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The Boat Who Wouldn't Float

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  1,770 ratings  ·  147 reviews
It seemed like a good idea. Tired of everyday life ashore, Farley Mowat would find a sturdy boat in Newfoundland and roam the salt sea over, free as a bird. What he found was the worst boat in the world, and she nearly drove him mad. The Happy Adventure, despite all that Farley and his Newfoundland helpers could do, leaked like a sieve. Her engine only worked when she felt ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published April 1st 1984 by Starfire (first published 1969)
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David Dickason there is quite a lot of drinking and a few bad scrapes - I would say it depends a lot on the nature of the boy
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Average rating 4.07  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,770 ratings  ·  147 reviews

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Debbie Zapata
Dec 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: saturdaymx
Auctions are thrilling and dangerous places. On the spur of the moment you can buy all sorts of things you did not know you needed until the bidding starts. This is part of the reason Farley Mowat became the proud owner of most of the nautical equipment being auctioned off at a defunct Canadian chandler's shop back in the early 1960's.

And what do you do with tons of nifty equipment and supplies? Find a boat to match it, of course. Then you dream of sailing off to Bermuda or some other southern
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of the few books that had me laughing out loud while I was reading it. My grandfather suggested in to me and told me it made him laugh. I was sceptical but found myself looking foolish while reading it on a bus trying to keep myself from cracking up.
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Funny and satisfying. Mowat chronicles his misadventures sailing around the Canadian Maritimes in the 1960s. The lack of GPS and anything more modern than a compass make his time at sea sound like the ancients'. He recounts a drive across Newfoundland destroying his car's muffler and tailpipe, blowing 7 tires, and lasting 5 days! Google Maps says it now takes 9 hours. The 50-year-old world of this book is as distant as the Vikings.

For a chapter or two Mowat anchors in Saint Pierre and Miquelon,
Heather Pearson
Nov 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: canadian
I can't recall the last time I so thoroughly enjoyed a book. This one held me in rapt attention. From the opening lines through to the final word. I've read that Farley Mowat is a 'natural story teller' and I totally agree. I burst out in laughter so many times while reading this book, and often in public places. Thankfully most everyone on the plane was sleeping while I was trying unsuccessfully to contain my chuckles.

What did I find so amusing you might ask. Well, just about everything Mr.
Sep 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biog, canada, 1960s
One of the Mowat books I enjoyed, the adventures of his librarian dad. Canada in the old days.
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As I sat in the companionway of our Alacrity eyeing a leak, a fellow sailor suggested I read The Boat Who Wouldnt Float. After reading the book, I feel we may have sold the Alacrity too soon. Farley proves that with some work and determination, a leaky boat is still able to provide plenty of adventure. He tells an endearing story of finding his boat, dreaming of a cross Atlantic sailing to Bermuda, and the many adventures that are realized with Happy Adventure at sail.

The book has amusing
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book. I don't know if there are still books like this being read out there - well written, eloquent without being stuffy or pretentious and moments of beautiful writing that capture you in the story. I wonder if we have the patience for them if they aren't big and full of long, dull paragraphs, or short with little story to tell. But, if one is looking for a fun, self effacing, humorous look at life - with some truly magical passages of writing stuffed in between the exploits of a ...more
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor
A most enjoyable story. It aims for light humor (and not much more), and usually succeeds. The humor is never cruel, but always tolerant and humane. The people, the boat, the dog, are all wonderful characters (yes, even the boat). There is some real adventure, but Mowat's endurable cheer is relentless.

> She immediately proceeded to give evidence of what was to be her most salient characteristic. She leaked as no boat I have ever known, before or since, could leak.

> A hundred arms began to
Aug 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What a book. My brother gave this to me a few years ago, and it blew me away. This is for the kid in all of us "grown" men that still wants to go out and see if we can turn our ideas into adventures. A highly entertaining tale.

By the way, my brothers boats all float, and they are stylish to boot.

Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the classic sailing novels of all time.
Anyone who's an inexperienced sailor that's spent time sailing a boat that needs a lot of repair will appreciate this book.
Farley Mowatt's sense of humor in seemingly impossible circumstances makes this book a joy to read.
Matthew Parsons
Jan 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Holy crap I loved this book. It works even if you don't know anything about sailing and is FUNNY. Mowat is a natural story-teller and I would have loved to have had a few beers with him
Adelaide Mcginnity
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The local Newfoundland color in this book is simply delicious, and many of the anecdotes it contains are quite humorous. However, I felt that Mowat's use of a fatuous, James Thurber-esque writing style was somewhat incongruous with the subject matter. If this book is factual, then Mowat came very close to dying on a whole number of occasions; by adopting a lighthearted, humorous approach even while describing the danger, Mowat removes the sense of realism that his otherwise exemplary study of ...more
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Boat Who Wouldn't Float is one of renowned and prolific Canadian author Farley Mowat's more lighthearted and romantic works. It recounts his rash purchase of an unseaworthy Newfoundland schooner, his efforts to make her fit to sail, and the 5 years he spent among the outports of Canada's youngest province.

Ironically christened Happy Adventure before her untrustworthiness and penchant for catastrophic mechanical and hull failure were fully realized, the boat consumed Mowat's life during this
Gail Amendt
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Farley Mowat was an amazing storyteller, and when he wanted to be funny, he was very, very funny, so I knew this book would be a fun read. In the late 1950's, Farley and his friend and publisher, Jack, bought a boat in Newfoundland, with the intention of having many adventures sailing around the world. What they got instead was a long series of misadventures, as the boat was really not seaworthy, and spent more time being repaired than sailing. Most of these misadventures occurred in and around ...more
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
Another great bedtime book from Margaret's book sale.

I read this story of Farley Mowat's boat many years ago. It was definitely worth reading again. This true tale of his and friends' attempts to get the boat resurrected and afloat is hilarious. It's just good, clean fun....okay it's quite cheeky in a! lot of places.
Aside from the story of the getting the boat out, the characters that you meet in the telling are so funny!

All in all, this is a great book. It's not a long read and I had to pace
Eva Tipps
May 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm a fan of Farley Mowat's writing in general so thought I would enjoy this book. Since I know nothing about boats or sailing the sea, on one hand, it was hard to relate to the story but on the other, it was fascinating to even glimpse the type of life that mariners live. I did appreciate Mowat's dry humor such as naming his untrustworthy vessel the Happy Adventure. I lent the book to a friend who had been in the Navy in that I thought he'd really enjoy the subject matter. (I think I read it ...more
Jun 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I would have given this book one start but after going to book club, everyone in the meeting convinced me I was wrong. LOL

They made me like the book solely on their opinions. This is the 1st time this has happened to me and it was enjoyable. My book club is full of boat owners and being an rv'er I missed most of the jargon and couldn't quite grasp why would some of the things happened that was mentioned in the book.
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This memoir probably belongs in a category called semi-fiction or something like that, given Moeat's reputation for looseneds with the facts. It is a (mostly) humorous tale of Mowat's years in southeast Newfoundland in the 1960s, and his frustrations with a small schooner was less than seaeorthy most of the time. The humor probably does not work for all, but it works better for me than that of Bill Bryson, Mowat being a little mre upbeat.
Jason Leathem
Mar 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
My father handed me his old copy, I tried and reading this book about 4 times, and kept getting busy with life, on the 5th time I went all in and was very happy to finish the book. I learned more about Eastern Canada and this book resulted in me seeing Eastern Canada for the first time. Plan to go again and see the ports that Farley went to on a Newfoundland trip one day too.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
3.5 stars. What a fun little, uplifting book. Farley Mowat's eternal optimism is sometimes a bit insane, but it was this optimistic view that made this whole experience an adventure for him instead of an ordeal. His prose and style of writing is really unique. It was nice to be able to laugh out loud while reading, for once.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book was ok. The subject matter isnt something usually I gravitate towards (boats, sea stories, etc.) and Im assuming its in the humor genre which is not my most liked genre. While its easy to read I found myself struggling to stay on track. Its not a bad book, just not my cup of tea. ...more
Marcia Kreutzmann
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Mowat'a writing brings you aboard his boat and you travel with him, suffering all his travails. Excellent storytelling with with humor and good natured fun. You meet lively characters as he sails around Newfoundland's coastline, including some four-legged ones. And I thought I was the only person terrified of sailing ...

Mar 21, 2020 rated it liked it
It took me quite some time to finish this relatively short book. I really enjoyed the style and humor of the author, in a story where the boat is the main character. The plot starts to go in circles when everytime the narrator tries to go somewhere with the boat, something goes wrong. Still an underrated book in maritime litterature.
David Dickason
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book with a great deal of humor in it about a boat, purchased in a town on the south coast of Newfoundland, made seaworthy (sort of) and over the course of several adventures, finally makes it to Expo 67 in Montreal.
Kimberly Lojewski
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-books
One of my favorite books of all time!! I read it at least once a year. And it's a great precursor to any trip to the Rock.
Rebecca Schwarz
Mar 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: to-sylvia
A long yarn about a man and his ill fated boat. A bit rambling, but that's part of the charm.
Sherri Anderson
Jan 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful story full of adventure. Be prepared to laugh, gasp, and cheer, especially laugh.
Sarah Emtage
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Dad just read this aloud to us on our road trip. We frequently laughed so hard we could barely breathe.
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a very entertaining story about a man and his boat. all the trials, adventures and misadventures of the author and his friends and a boat with a seemingly mind of its own.
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very funny and a nice depiction of NFLD.
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Farley McGill Mowat was a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.

Many of his most popular works have been memoirs of his childhood, his war service, and his work as a naturalist. His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books.

Mowat studied biology at the University of Toronto. During a field trip to the Arctic, Mowat became

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“...the three cardinal tenets of rum drinking in Newfoundland. The first of these is that as soon as a bottle is placed on a table it must be opened. This is done to "let the air get at it and carry off the black vapors." The second tenet is that a bottle, once opened, must never be restoppered, because of the belief that it will then go bad. No bottle of rum has ever gone bad in Newfoundland, but none has ever been restoppered, so there is no way of knowing whether this belief is reasonable. The final tenet is that an open bottle must be drunk as rapidly as possible "before all to-good goes out of it.” 8 likes
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