“Sea-Fever” [61]

By Dee Ratcliffe

The seed was set at Mike Snoad’s housewarming party. Rather a lot of fine wine was consumed. John Wilde’s rousing rendition of some classic songs was inspiring. Then Peter Osman and I discovered we have a shared love of poetry. We had even memorised the same poem (of eight lines). Peters recitation was more measured, melodic and accurate than mine.

A morning spent scouring the bookshops of Newtown produced a treasure – One Hundred Favourite Poems. No matter what other gear got jettisoned, this book would be made to fit into my hatch for our Whitsundays trip.

Close quarters within our campsite on the second night started the reading that became a nightly routine. With us all settled and snuggled in our tents, the holder of the book selected and read aloud a couple of poems. Andrew Eddy was the first to select this particular poem; it was then requested twice more. It seemed to match the mood of our trip and the life we lead for that brief period. I believe that all us sea kayakers must be romantics at heart, to go where we go and see what we see, to be so privileged, to encounter some of the fine places of this earth. The call to return is constant.


I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

By John Masefield (1878-1967).
(English Poet Laureate, 1930-1967.)