Saturday, September 16, 2017

First Paragraph

Before he went to sea, Bliven Putnam had wondered why men personify ships, name them, ascribe temperaments to them, refer to them in the feminine. It took only one day at sea in a stiff blow to understand it. When the sails of the Enterprise bellied out and the masts bent before the wind, when the ship buried itself in a trough and then vaulted to surmount a swell, she took on the life of the most spirited filly. A ship at sea - you ask things of her, sometimes difficult things, tricky things, and she responds, although not always in the affirmative. She becomes your home and your safety - your only safety - in the middle of an ocean, but does so with a grace and touch that is nothing if not feminine. To seamen this relationship with their vessel becomes embedded in their nature. Those who do not go to sea cannot understand it; they accept it readily enough, and they mimic the sailor's reference to a ship as "she," but they do not comprehend it, really. That is the seamen's bond alone.

- From The Shores of Tripoli: Lieutenant Putnam and the Barbary Pirates by James L. Haley

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