Rereading: THE BOAT WHO WOULDN’T FLOAT by Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat (1921-2014) was a Canadian writer and environmentalist probably best known for his book “Never Cry Wolf,” made into a 1983 film. My favorite book of his is “The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be,” humorous autobiography about his family and pets in rural Canada. This book is along those lines, though it takes place in the 1960s when Mowat was a successful adult author.

Mowat and his publisher and friend Jack McClelland have decided to search out and buy an old sea-going ship large enough for long pleasure voyages, but small enough to be handled by two. Such boats are scarce, and they finally find one at the eastern end of Newfoundland, a place which can only be reached by a very poor excuse for a road, and also a place usually and famously engulfed in thick fog. The sailor selling the boat is enthusiastic, but Farley can barely make out the shape of the vessel in its cod-fishing harbor, complete with the awful stench of the cod-processing plant and the equally awful output of the factory. The owner, Paddy Hallohan, agrees to fix it up, add a cabin, and make it seaworthy by the time Farley and Jack return to sail it that summer. Needless to say, when Farley gets back, almost nothing is done, the boat is a wreck, and disaster looms, while Jack is due in a few weeks. Plying any able hands he can find with rum, Farley and Paddy and company do their best, which is not enough, but eventually the boat they christen Passion Flower launches and begins one of the most harrowing, dangerous, and hilarious voyages through the Canadian maritime provinces that has ever been put to paper, let alone survived, in a boat that continually tries to sink itself.

Great fun if you can find it, the best kind of armchair adventuring.

The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat

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