Monday, October 24, 2022

____________________ THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS _____________________

Well shipmates, if you are familiar with the writings of Francis B Cooke, Albert Strange, George Holmes, Maurice Griffiths and his 'LoneGulls', Charles Stock and his  boat 'Shoal Waters' and that whole pantheon of small boat sailors who sail in thin water then you will be familiar with Erskine Childers and his classic book 'The Riddle of the Sands' published in 1900. My first reading of Childers book must have been 50 years ago, yikes!!

I pulled this book down from my shelf a few days ago and began reading it again for the third time. It's attraction is not simply that it is a very well written, riveting, ripping yarn, it is also because it captures the ambience and flavour of small boat sailing in shoal waters in a compelling and believable way - a fact that is no surprise considering the author Erskine Childers was a small boat sailor of wide experience who had spent some time sailing around the channels and sand banks of the German (East) Frisian Islands which is the setting for the book. 

When I was well into my third reading I remembered that a film had been made based on the book which I had watched many decades ago. Happily I found the film on UTube here: 

In the film some liberties have been taken with the original plot which is often the case when books get dramatised in films. But when coupled with reading the book I found it informative and complementary. 

The yacht 'Dulcibella' is described in the book as a converted double ended life boat conversion with a round counter stern added. A very good authentic life boat conversion reconstruction of the yacht 'Dulcibella' was built for the film. Apparently the only thing inside this reconstruction was a large Mercedes diesel engine (the interior boat filming was done in an off boat studio set). Of course none of this is obvious in the film and I enjoyed the many sailing scenes which helped describe the mood of the sands and channels where the adventure unfolds.

I highly recommend the Book and the Movie - but if I had to choose only one - the book wins outright.