Old Wooden Boats
I steered my boat to the pier at Dingle
There I met an old man long home from the sea.
He caught my rope and with eyes sun-crinkled
he looked first at my boat and then at me.
And he told me “Son, I’ve fished these waters
for 80-years or more both man and boy.
And I was brave , but you’re much bolder
to dare to go to sea in that rich man’s toy.
Because that boat you stake your life on
it’s fibreglass and plastic stem to stern.
It bears the beaten soul of its’ factory builder
for it’s never known the love of a craftsman’s hand.
But old wooden boats scold like old mothers
when you drive them through a west of Ireland sea.
Old wooden boats are like no other
for they fight for the lives of fools like you and me.
He said oaken planks will groan and whimper
and will warn you when its time to feel afraid.
While a plastic hull will crack and splinter
and with no warning sweep you to an early grave.
And when the Northern Star leans on your shoulder
and it’s icy anger builds a troubled sea.
Then put your faith in God Almighty
and in the secrets that the winds once told the trees”.
I caught the tide in early morning
In the dawn I watched the Blaskets fall astern
and the wind recalled the old man’s warning
and it asked me “had I listened, had I learned”?