Thursday, 20 February 2014

Small Boat Down the Years - book review

Small Boat Down the Years
by Roger Pilkington
February 2014

I am usually a stickler for reading books on strict chronological order but Roger Pilkington's Small Boat series has become more than a bit repetitive so I jumped to the last book in date order as it was thinner and seemed to have moved from the formula which has become something of a straight jacket.

When I say straight jacket I mean that the series started as mostly narrative about his inland waterways travels, where he went, who he met and the escapades they got up to - which was great. But as time progressed the travels became more convoluted and kept covering old ground so the focus shifted to the history of the surrounding areas. This was OK but the absence of maps to ground the description left it all a bit up in the air and unsatisfactory and my thirst to read on has waned.

So, faces with a "last book" written in 1987 (remembering that he started his cruising in the last 1940's) this had scope to be a neat retrospective summary. And so it turned out to be.

The book was written when Roger was over 70 and had decided to hang up his windlass, using the book to cameo some of the highlights of a long and varied boating history. In some ways this condensed version delivered all the best of the previous books - all the boating with none of the history.

Its a good sampler book with the short accounts whetting the appetite to delve deeper into his extensive back catalogue. Its more like a series of disconnected short stories shared on from of a roaring log fire than a travelogue but well worth a read, particularly of you have never read any of his previous works.

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