Review: The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float

I can’t remember who recommended this book to me, but I am glad they did, because it’s funny, sweet and about a lot more than a boat who wouldn’t float.

Farley Mowat published this book in 1969, based on adventures that took place a few years earlier. His plan was to motor and sail a boat from Newfoundland to the Caribbean, but that didn’t happen.

On the down side, the boat was not cooperative, sometimes to the point of making Mowat question his sanity. On the up side, the care and support he received from the interesting people of Newfoundland helped him overcome (and sometimes forget about) those challenges. I’ve never visited Newfoundland, and it’s the butt of many Canadians’ “newfie” jokes. This book helped explain the very different culture there (Newfoundland only joined Canada in 1949), as well as appreciate how people got by before the collapse of the cod fisheries (dated to 1992) ended a way of life that had worked for around 500 years.

I’m not going to make any other notes, but I recommend this book to anyone who’s struggled with a boat, a motor, or fishing villages. It’s also an excellent “time capsule” of life in Newfoundland. FOUR STARS.

Addendum (Oct 2023): Read Mowat’s 1957 article on his father’s boat obsession.

Here are all my reviews.

Author: David Zetland

I'm a political-economist from California who now lives in Amsterdam.

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