So, as I mentioned before, William Finch’s The Sea In My Blood is a story from his youth about his life among the smack-sailing fishermen of Lowesoft.
He went for his first fishing trip at age nine, having finally convinced his father to take him. He tells about that certain ‘something’ that made him do it, the same thing that binds lives to it. And I myself can attest that there is truth to it, being a daughter and grand-daughter to seamen.
It might seem strange to us that a child of nine would be taken along the fishing trip, but back then a boy as young as twelve would be ready to take on job on a smack. Starting from a position of a cook he would learn the trade from the adults. And he had to learn fast, avoiding the mistakes that might cost them their lives.
What I love about the book the most is the sea stories. The stories of ships and how they have whims and personalities of their own. Of storms and narrow escapes. Of good times and bad times for the fishing folk. There are stories of skeletons found in the fishing nets bad accidents and mysterious circumstances. And the best part is they are all true.
And I cannot omit the smack-men’s humour: ‘Cooky served corn beef, the first I have ever seen or tasted. ‘’Look out f’r bits a fur. They make it fr’m cats’’.:-)
The book is not only full of salty stories, but also of beautiful drawings he made himself. He illustrated the technical aspects of smack-sailing, such as equipment, sails, manoeuvring but also captured scenes from daily life, and what’s the most important, the likeness of people who lead this kind of life and the times when the sea was even more dangerous than it is today.