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Was John Walker a Competent Seaman?


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Posted by Peter Hyland on March 08, 2019 at 09:45:46 user Peter_H.

UK sailors may be familiar with the magazine 'The Mariner's Mirror', which is the journal of the Society for Nautical Research. In the current issue (Feb 2019) there is an article entitled 'Was Arthur Ransome's John Walker a Competent Seaman?'. The author is Mike Bender of Exeter University.

In the article, Mr Bender lists a number of faults in John's seamanship, mainly in WDMTGTS. He begins with a rather startling point about the Goblin drifting out to sea at the beginning of the book, which he thinks is "authorial sleight of hand" on AR's part:

"The anchor breaks out and the boat starts drifting. However, the strongest pull on the anchor chain would have occurred after half tide, but this would mean that, rather than drift with the new ebb out to sea, the Goblin would drift up the Stour on the flood, but 'We Didn't Mean to Go to Ipswich' doesn't have quite the same ring."

I am not a sailor, and I don't really understand Mike Bender's argument, but others might. The article is available online, possibly behind a pay wall, although it may be possible to access it as a guest. The first page is on open access anyway. Go to the 'Mirror' home page at the link below and then click on the article in the list of contents.

Mariner's Mirror



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