Boats in My Blood: A Life in Boat Building

Barrie Farrell. Harbour (Midpoint, U.S. dist.), $24.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-55017-755-8
Farrell, now in his 80s, was a pioneering designer and boat builder on the British Columbia coast as the fishing industry moved from wooden boats to fiberglass, but this entertaining memoir is much more than the story of his 40-year career. His tales of boats are intermingled with recollections of his family’s hardscrabble beginnings, his childhood on the West Coast, his two marriages, and his children. The narrative drifts conversationally between business and personal matters, often at random and quite unexpectedly. Accounts of Farrell’s youth are charming and reveal a free spirit that remained constant in adulthood. His descriptions of places, other builders, family events, memories, and adventures are written in short conversational bursts marked by a refreshing simplicity and innocence. He carefully describes family, friends, boat builders, and clients, often in relation to one another, reflecting the importance of belonging in isolated communities. This colloquial work provides a vivid account of the vagaries of boat building and the uncertainty for those whose livelihoods depend on it, and provides insight into life in coastal communities over the last 80 years. Black and white photos bring characters and boats to life, enhancing an already fascinating story. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 02/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
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