It might be my first but probably will not be the last attempt to post here in English. There are some older Lithuanian posts that got good view statistics and are still interesting and now proofed by the time so they could be translated, too. Going global?
Perhaps. Who knows, really. But please find my latest post translated below (and feel free to correct my grammar).
For Lithuanian original post go here.
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At the recent yachtsmen’s Thursday meeting (and if you are not aware, we have them here in Vilnius organized already third year in a row by Darius ‘The Beatle’ Germanavicius, Vice-Commodore of so-called sailing anarchists Minge yacht-club and current Vice-President for Communications of Lithuanian Sailing Union) that is held in Vilnius under the White Bridge in the G-Luck bar, I have bought a freshly printed book ‘A Recipe for the Mannish Cake’ (Vyriško Torto Receptas in Lithuanian, that I would rather translate as ‘The Doughty Doughnut’) by Rimtautas Rimsas, our fellow yachtsman, skipper, and sailing writer.
Of course, I got a dedication along author’s signature. A grumpily one (yes, it says: ‘for the wordy (and I mean it angrily!) Egidijus’), which made me smile and kicked me up to write these reviews of his books – first two and the latter one.
The good reviews, despite what you might guess. And if you don’t like the way they are, I’d say: go fork your sail, grumpy!
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The first book written by Rimtautas Rimsas is ‘Wandering at the Sea and in Yourself’ (Klajonės Po Jūrą Ir Save).
I may even suspect it is the first one published but not the first actually written. Because usually, as in cooking, first pancake is screwed. But it is not the case this time!
You will be surprised, if you haven’t read this book yet, that the book might be the first for the debuting author but it is definitely like written by already mature writer. It is too good for the beginner I should say: all the narrative, a multi-layered story, and anecdotes from the real life sailing experience.
Like this one to mention: How to get precisely to Klaipeda port, sailing across the Baltic Sea, when a helmsman (actually, she – the helmswoman) is steering 15 degrees off the directed course (by compass as no GPS at that time)?
You are reading and in your mind you immediately start to calculate by the Rule of 1/60 that 1 degree off the course will give you 1 nautical mile deviation away from the arrival point per 60 nautical miles sailed. So these 15 degrees mean that you will be off the target about 50 kilometers after a little bit of a day and night sailing (it takes more time to see a sign of the coast even coming from the nearest Gotland island) and when Lithuanian coast is only 90.66 km long and Klaipeda is almost in the center of it, all this means you are getting to the neighbor country.
But no, smartly navigated yacht comes out of the fog and surrounding blindness straight to the port entrance! And she, the helmsman, asks the skipper later on, how don’t they ever get lost at sea, and before he starts bragging about an art of navigation trying to impress her with his knowledge and skills, she admits steering off the course because it was more convenient for her to steer…
Of course, the book is not only about sailing, even the author put a subtitle: Common Story of the Common Sailor about the Commonness of a Small Boat. I would say it is even more about wanderings in the inner self that are happening to the author (and to his character in narrative) while wandering at the sea rather than a book of sailing anecdotes.
And it’s about love. Love not only to the sea but to women (eternal subject!) and to the boat (definitely – she). That’s why I say it is more than a book for sailors or yachtsmen. It is fully a book of fiction literature even based on a real life’s experiences where all the stories are interchangeably connected with each other to an integral novel.
I am happy that it is written by a yachtsman. This fact prompted fellow yachtsmen to rush for the book and eagerly read it… and then go silently in confusion to paint their boat bottoms with anti-fouling, contemplating on the matter that it is a ‘real’ book.
And if you need to compare this book to some dish, I would rather say it is not a pancake or even an aperitif but a glass (or a bottle if your liver is strong enough) of solid and ripe wine.
I have read it and then much later I had to check for some quote but I got lost in reading the whole book once again. And while I write here my hand is involuntary stretching to grab it again like a sober drunkard is lured by the temptation of wine…
Author admits writing books at the end of the winter when abstinence from sailing is in its peak. So does the need to read such books hit the yachtsmen, too.
Some book lovers (or the critics as a matter of fact) joke that if a writer ran out of steam, he or she will be soon writing dramas or books for children. But honestly, how many Lithuanian marine books you know that are written by Lithuanian author, not English, American, French, or even Russian?
So a second book by Rimtautas Rimas is actually the very first, as far as I am aware, children book of a maritime genre in Lithuanian by Lithuanian author. It is called ‘Not a Caribbean Cruise‘ (Ne Karibų Kruizas).
Somehow I suspect that the title is not only a friendly poke to Arturas Dovydenas, who himself wrote a book “Green Isles of Caribbean”, but rather a prevailing expression among Lithuanian yachtsmen that the Baltic Sea, one should be aware, is not a mildly Caribbean (you cannot call it ‘like Mediterranean’ neither, because the Baltic Sea is inland sea likewise, which let us to avoid worrying about tides and just in this aspect makes learning to cruise under the sail easier, even for the apparent sailing instructors of infamous charter company named like Go[ForkYour]Sail who claims teaching IYT course while having no accreditations and licenses from IYT World, but I digress).
This book is written for teens – at least it was the original idea, I guess. But when you start to read (and the boys never grow up, just their toys get more expensive), you realize that the book is for a much wider audience, and not because it tells a story about a boat trip in the Curonian Lagoon and across the Baltic sea by grandfather, who is a yachtsman, and his grandson, whose parents threw the boy to the old pal for a summer holidays because they have their own “more important“ affairs.
The story is told to any reader who might be of that boy’s age; or of his retired grandfather’s; and of these adults who might missed such adventures in their childhood but maybe still are dreaming to set sail at sea because their childhood wasn’t spoiled with present days’ virtual entertainments and they have read books about incredible adventures on high seas.
Read it and give it to your children. So far, there is no any other Lithuanian author’s book of maritime genre for children and I must remind you that 2013 is declared by Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament) a Year of Children and Youth Book. But Lithuanian books for this group of readers are very scarce and constantly diminishing now, as recent Vilnius Book Fair has disclosed. And although this book is freshly printed out, but for the small maritime nation that we strive to be, it is still relevant and is recommended to read.
Again, what dish is it to compare to, you ask me?
Maybe it is like a salad with cheese and olives or like a Greek vegetable salad – light and healthy food, made from fresh vegetables and seasoned with spices, rich in vitamins, suitable not only for vegetarians from a ‘small agricultural country’ (as one local vegetarian pop-singer, who sings ‘I am a lonely sailor’ put it ridiculously when in fact agricultural sector makes a little more than 3 per cent of Lithuanian GDP and in the whole economy is almost equally competed by a single port of Klaipeda).
The third book skips the main course as the author calls it straightly: a cake – ‘A Recipe for the Mannish Cake’ (Vyriško Torto Receptas).
Apparently, Rimtautas Rimsas thinks that the main course is the sea and sailing itself so he had no intention to talk too much about it (see his dedication mentioned above) but rather suggests just to do it and simply set sail (likewise, when sailing at sea, I usually fall into happily meditating state of mind therefore you would be surprised not seeing me wordy). But I guess that in the future he also will write other books that I would call “a soup“, “a roast“ or “a fish fillet with white wine sauce, served with the boiled and then fried potatoes for the garnish”.
So what is it about this dessert, you ask?
It is exotic (yes, there is such a meaty cake recipe in the book!) while being classic at the same time – because inspired by Jerome K. Jerome’s (till now, I haven’t thought about Jerome’s middle name and Rimtautas Rimsas provides: Klapka) storyline ‘Three Men in a Boat (to Say Nothing of the Dog)’.
Just do not be fooled – there is not yet another variation on this theme, as you may suspect. A trio of old friends (I need to admit having some déjà vu feeling that there is my own trio of my friends – just Plumber, Doctor, and Bachelor replaced me and friends of mine: Doctor and Professor), who meet annually to camp in the forest but this year they discuss the idea of Jerome’s book because one of them, although have read it so lately on the plane, got inspired to cruise on the boat that may be not only rowed but sailed as well and that they will need any special license or training to operate such boat.
Last year, yachtsmen and sailor Romualdas ‘The Uncle Romas’ Janusauskas and I were looking for such kind of boat for me, in despair, for unsuccessful search, turning our heads to racing dinghies (because in Lithuania all sailors are racers and athletes but not cruisers and tourists?) and in the midsummer I had to shift funds to my business enterprise from the leisure affair. But how have the characters found their dream boat I will not tell you as this story is about dinning (you will see it for yourselves what I mean here when you read).
But again, I think, the very subject of the book (or more accurately – themes in it) is neatly related to not only me alone. And some may sail a boat without acquiring one (here you may put an ad of bareboat charter). And a dog, as a matter of fact, is not required to be present (in a story, there was a wandering cat in need, though). And you don’t need the Caribbean or the Mediterranean seas to sail – the storyline brings us to the Stockholm archipelago in the Baltic.
What has really surprised me, I must confess, it’s not an author’s bibliographical and biographical knowledge of Jerome K. Jerome you may guess, but rather of Johan August Strindberg, Swedish writer, poet, playwright, and painter (raise your hands those who have read his books?), because the latter has spent a part of his life in this archipelago (I have no info if he was also sailing there) and wrote about it.
Therefore, the course in the storyline often goes along this writer and his characters. And Rimtautas Rimsas incorporates not only some geographical details of the area but historical as well – even when in the island there was just a cholera quarantine station or it was pillaged by Russians during the Northern War, as Russian tzar Peter, who declared himself an emperor later, came back from his voyage across Europe to home-country Russia and told local kerns how it is so cool in the Europe, and so encouraged not only them to dream (or come and take, as a matter of fact) about Sweden social-welfare state that you may only wish in Russian, Soviet or not.
Sometimes I was in real need at hand for a chart or a map to the story told. It is obvious that Rimtautas Rimsas has sailed, not on a couch or on google maps, over there but unfortunately to me, as a reader, all these stories and provided details were not connecting with my poor local geographical knowledge (but just out of my head I can write you five books on Dodecanese!). However, the book is refreshingly supplemented with illustrations by Ieva Nakrevičiūtė, who drew them like sketches, somehow reminding those of old style books; and that might come back into fashion once again.
Moreover, at the end of each chapter the author provides some explanations of the concepts of sailing for the reader’s common knowledge. Sometimes he interprets the terms funny, not academically (e.g. ‘love’ – page 242.). Even for me, I must confess, some turned to be unknown (e.g. ‘tifonas’ which is device like a fog horn – page 177, ‘bridelis’ which is actually a mooring buy – page 227; these are completely non-Lithuanian and comes from some Martian sailors, perhaps, but are kind of funny to find as some old-skool Lithuanian yachtsmen still uses them, why they…?).
Is there anything about love and women, as author has been asked? Yes, there is. An eternal subject, as I said earlier. Although, not the main one for the book. But what we would do without women while a marriage between same sex individuals is not judicially legal yet?
According to the author, there is a ‘story told by its participants; written by one boatman; illustrated in Klaipeda; put in order by the publisher and printed out in Kaunas’ in 2013. Story told often in a mocking and sometimes neglected style.
I wonder why it is so. It seems to me that…
That the answer is in the book. Or at sea. Or in your own approach to life and understanding of your place in it. And if you are not for four seasons here (winter, spring, summer, and autumn) but only for two (to sail or not to sail), then surely there is no such question because you are only interested in the story of this adventure told.
And then even the Axe may sail.