"O Eternal Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens, and rulest the raging of the sea; who hast compassed the waters with bounds until day and night come to an end..."

The Naval Prayer

The Sea & I

Like its tides, the sea creeps up on you. And if it is always there, it's easy to take it for granted. Do that, and it will prove fatal -- probably sooner rather than later. This harsh truth applies equally to both a dinghy and an aircraft carrier but most sailors are more concerned about seasickness than drowning.

The sea arrived at my doorstep when I was eight: we had moved to a clifftop villa in Dorset -- a remote spot where Allied troops rehearsed their D-Day crossing of the English Channel. I still remember the gale that blew a carrier pigeon onto my nursery window sill: the bird had a message banded to its leg, presumably from Ike. We nursed it overnight, then gave it to the army. Any interested viewer can see my perch by renting a video of The Longest Day: in the footage where the American Rangers apparently heave grapnels and climb the cliffs of Normandy, they are actually whistling past my head, just off camera. (You can also read about it in The Charlatan Variations )

Besides building and living in houses by the sea -- Queenswood and Ardmore -- I spent seventeen years in what used to be the Royal Canadian Navy. By a very rough estimate I was out of sight of land for five years, which is enough time looking at nothing but water to make you think about it. And remember it.

Deciding to write a first novel about a warship seemed fairly understandable: having it turn into a love triangle called Troika did surprise me at the time, but looking back, it does not. What else can one call the relationship between a sailor, his ship, and the sea?

I think of this section, which mixes self-indulgence and nostalgia, as a fond remembrance of those long ago loves. If you wish to see their names -- and perhaps share some memories from their Badges -- just click on The Ships.

P.S. Because searching distant memory is like steaming through a fogbank -- where things suddenly loom out of the mist -- to find HMCS Sioux, you will have to join her, as I did, by way of Crusader.

*Creative Endeavours Only