The late Richard ‘Dick’ Scott’s fascination with sailing ships, particularly those which still survived trading coastwise around the Bristol Channel and across the Western Seas between Britain and Ireland in the 1940s and ‘50s, extended far beyond simple study. Although having a ‘day job’, Dick spent much of his spare time especially during holidays on board a number of these ancient vessels, making numerous working trips across the Irish Sea, getting to know many of the crews and particularly the characters who owned and captained them. This was a hard and dangerous profession but through his interest, ability and willingness to share their often hazardous existence, Dick earned the undying respect of the men he sailed with. He also had the foresight to take a camera with him and was thus able to capture on film the very essence of sailing in the Western Seas on board a wooden hulled ship, when only a man’s experience, wits and ability kept him and his crew from disaster.
A perusal of the ships’ lists within these pages soon reveals just how dangerous the life of a seaman working in coastal sail was; we would be appalled today at the risks involved and the almost routine loss of life suffered – and tolerated – by the crews of these vessels. Nevertheless, the life had its rewards, in monetary terms for many of the owner/skippers, and the freedom granted by a life outdoors and on the move for many of those who worked on board. And then there was the camaraderie, of the sort perhaps only shared by miners and soldiers, other men used to working with death and danger as constant companions. Through some truly memorable photographs and an Irishman’s way with words, Dick Scott brings this forgotten age to life for those who can now never experience it. As such, not only is this an important addition to the literary annals on maritime coastal sail, it is almost certainly the last to be written by someone who could say ‘I was there’.
Hardcover, 184 pages.