Sunday, 3 January 2010

Captain Ahab comes of age

Captian Ahab comes of age

3rd January 2010

If my calculations are accurate, Captain Ahab's Watery Tales will strike a  nautical milestone today, and lets hope it dosn't founder in the process.

I may not have covered Captain Nemo's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, but the sitemeter tells me that Captain Ahab should today receive it's 10,000th hit. To be honest, I don't pay a lot of attention to the running total of hits, but ten thousand seems a significant number and it has therefore caused me to stop and reflect on the place the blog has in my life.

Whilst the blog entries appear to date back to 1982 (long before the PC was developed and certainly before the internet exploded into being) these early entries are recollections of old boating trips, filling in the gaps so to speak. In reality, Belle suggested I use the format as an on line log book to record a 2008 trip to Boston in Lincolnshire, and she even created the initial layout never anticipating the monster she was unleashing.

Captain Ahab has always been an expression of my love affair with all things watery, and Wand'ring Bark naturally takes the lead role. However, looking back I can see that it's place in my life has grown from an on line boating diary with selected photos to something more. I write extensively for my living but it is mostly very dry corporate stuff which is so rigorously edited and adapted that it is sometimes unrecognisable as my own work. By contrast, Captain Ahab allows me to break free of these restraints and write more freely, which includes typos and grammatical oddities.

From the outset I decided that Captain Ahab's Watery Tales would be waterways based with a link to a watery theme within each post. This was a good discipline at the start but I am becoming less convinced about it as a hard and fast rule today. It all comes down to why one writes a Blog which is open for all to see. Am I writing for my own benefit, a bit like an on line diary for future reference?; Am I writing a travel log for friends and family to look at?; or am I writing to maximise hits from an unseen general public? The answer is probably a bit of all three!

It is amazing how the act of writing helps focus the mind and, in the case of writing up my Watery Tales, it is a discipline that positively reinforces the pleasure of my aquatic travels. Similarly, the scope to publish photo's means that I now actively seek out photo opportunities which provides another outlet for my creativity. I liken the pleasure derived from writing the Blog to Alfred Wainwrights delight in the creation of his magnificent Lakeland walking guides, which he wrote mainly as "something to refer back to when I get too old to walk the fells myself". I plan to be out and about on the water for many years to come, but even now my memory fails me and I derive a surprising amount of pleasure from reflecting back on past expeditions.

So where do I take Captain Ahab now?

Well, for 2009 I made a New Years resolution to allow myself the liberty of following my curiosity. This had led me, among other things, to "discover" a world of lost canals which have formed the basis of a great many posts over recent months. I plan to continue this journey as there are so many lost routes and so little time!

Whilst it is good to maintain a degree of subject matter discipline, I am finding my self imposed 'watery' requirement is getting in the way of writing about other things that interest me. So, for 2010 I am allowing myself the liberty of writing about a slightly broader range of issues which capture my imagination, probably including things like non waterway related books, films and activities - things which interest me and I would like to be able to reflect back on in years to come.

10,000 hits and twice that number of pages read represents a lot of time invested in one man's observations. I trust that you will all have a life enriching 2010 and I will be delighted if Captain Ahab's Watery Tales can offer you a small measure of the pleasure writing it brings to me.

1 comment:

Halfie said...

Congratulations Andy! Like you, I don't restrict myself to boating stuff for my blog. I've been enjoying your explorations of abandoned canals, and I look forward to more in that line. Here's to the next 10k!