on May 30, 2000
This is a tremendous sea yarn told by an old salt with many years of sailing under his belt. Farley Mowat is not well known as a sailor perhaps, but as someone who has skippered his way along the Newfoundland coast and survived, he must be reasonably authentic. Like many inland-born Canadians, Mowat had not sailed a small boat at sea before arriving in Newfoundland after the war. However, he had done a lot of sailing on Lake Superior in his boyhood and youth, on a yacht his father owned and sailed for many years. And sailing appears to have been in his blood.
The tale of how he acquires this particular boat, then sails along the coast for the summer and finally brings it up the St-Lawrence Seaway all the way to Montreal, will please any lover of maritime fare. Among his many books, Mowat wrote a number of autobiographical ones, some of which are lighter in tone. "The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" is delightfully easy to read and, along with "The Dog Who Wouldn't Be"(the story of Mowat's childhood), gives interesting insights into the life of one of Canada's foremost writers.
on May 2, 1997
Farley Mowat has been accused of sitting in a Toronto bar while concocting these wonderfully stirring tales of the island rock, Newfoundland. Put your mind at ease, mates, and enjoy the book as a true treasure. I lived in Newfoundland for three years before discovering this book. I can heartily recommend you read it with good appetite! It is a cake mixed with truth skillfully told, covered with a frosting of humor, and served with a piquant flourish.These saltwater tales, revolving around Mowats' titanic struggle to find, refurbish and actually sail a boat determined to sink herself and all hands, are chalk full of laughs, tension, tragedy, and still more laughs. Its truths are better than any fiction.Haul up your anchor and sail away with this master storyteller as he outsalts the famed Royal Canadian Mounted Police, falls into the rummish cluthes of Screech, narrowly escapes icy death, and finds the beautiful maiden."The Boat Who Wouldn't Float" is a worthy vessel in which to sail the seas of leisure time. So fill your cup and drink deeply while the captain spins his tales
on April 22, 2002
Warning: Mowat's love of the sea, the people of Newfoundland, and his defiant schooner is contagious. A few pages in, and you'll feel like following in his footsteps. Wry anecdotes are coupled with fond sketches of the people of Newfoundland's outport communities at a turning point, shortly before many of these ancient, remote towns were completely uprooted in the name of government cost-cutting. Happily, thirty years after this book came out, I made of a couple trips to Newfoundland harbour communities and report that these warm, resilient folk will never change. If you can't make the trip yourself, then "lard jesus, bye" read this book! The last pages of the book do rush through years rather quickly, but remember that it's really a biography of a boat, and she wasn't doing much in those years. But when she was busy, the tales she could generate...
on March 16, 2002
I first read this book in middle school, and have re-read several times over the years. What I really liked about it was that, though Happy Adventure ... and Farley are the reason for the book, the real story and focus is on the Newfoundlanders and their way of life. Far more than you hear about Farley, you hear about Muddy Hole, "the boys of Burin", Farillon and Ferryland, and various other places, as well as the people who inhabit them. It's a delightful peek at another place and time, that still endures to this day.
I was recently delighted that I had read it, since I discovered the band Great Big Sea, which comes out of Newfoundland. Thanks to this book, I can understand their idiom, and recognize places that they sing about. It gives the music a richer feeling for me.
Both are worth spending your time on.
on March 24, 2001
this was a beautiful book about a time and a place and a world about which i knew little, and as usual farley mowat does his brilliant job of bringing it to life in full radiance, and of personifying the non-human in a unique and gripping way.
weak points: this book, more than the others i previously read by him, showed more about the real character of farley mowat, and in this book he struck me as a very unhappy man, both depressed and even alcoholic. i'm glad to have read it however, as it not only gives me insight into him as the author of this book, but into the underlying character of the author who wrote his other wonderful, and less dark, books.
also, honestly, this wasn't a particularly deep book. it sort of "appears" to be deep, but like his boat, sorta skims across the surface.
on March 16, 2001
Farley Mowat is the kind of writer whose words flow across the page as easily as breathing - and what a delight those words are! I've never sailed, I'm not a boat lover and yet I could not put down this true tale of one man's adventures getting a primitive vessel into seaworthy shape. Several pages had me laughing out loud, especially Mowat's account of drinking Screech, an alcoholic beverage of near deadly strength.While this book is classified as a "children's" book, I think it is far more suitable for adults, who may appreciate some of the humor here with an adult's perspective. Then again, if you have a reluctant reader, I can't think of a better book to keep him or her reading. I guess this book is actually for the WHOLE family.
on December 12, 2000
One dark and stormy night we pulled up to the Harborview Bed and Breakfast at the mouth of the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia. The car headlights fell across the bow of "The Happy Adventure" of The Boat Who Wouldn't Float.The very vessel that was to transport Farley and his friend Jack to endless adventures in far away tropical islands but from the start refuses to leave Muddy Hole, Newfoundland(her birthing place).Farley Mowat is a master story teller and he is in top form as he yanks us aboard and sets sail. It's a mighty struggle to keep her afloat as she makes several attempts to commit nautical suicide but Farley is up to the task. He bullies,he cajoles and finally makes a deal she couldn't refuse.
on July 18, 2004
Farley Mowat is nothing if not persistent. After purchasing the Newfoundland schooner from Hell, badly misnamed as Happy Adventure, he finds he has a boat that leaks constantly, has a compass that doesn't know where magnetic north is, hates to head West, has an engine that works when it feels like it and that is just for starters. Much of the time sailing is in the fog, both real and self imposed. Most sane men would have turned this boat into kindling, but Mowat sailors on, one harrowing experience after another with an assortment of mates and in the process tells us a funny and true story of his adventures as only he can. Written over thirty years ago, the story has lost none of its charm and interest.
on July 12, 2002
I bought this book for my father, a maritime history enthusiast. I planned to save it for a holiday gift, but I decided to read it myself first. Not being as excited about maritime stories as my father, I didn't have high expectations, but after the first page, I was hooked. My husband could not be in the same room with me because my laughter disturbed his own reading. I was especially enthralled with Mowatt's anectdotes and descriptions of the people residing in the various villages he visited. I felt like I was there with him. This book was sheer delight from beginning to end. I don't think I will be able to wait until Christmas to give this book to my father, I must share this unexpected joy.
on January 16, 1999
The first time I read this book was on a passage aboard a thirty foot sloop. We were sailing from Baddeck on Cape Breaton Island on our way to the south coast of Newfoundland.This was in 1977. The book I believe had been relaesed not much before that time. It was as if I was reading an introduction to the Island and to the people of Newfoundland.I could not put it down. My sides ached from laughing from the beggining to the end.If you have never been to Newfoundland this book will give you inspiration to want to go there. It is a wonderful portrait of the Island and the People.