Robert C. Leslie (1826-1901) was an artist and writer who, at an early age fell in love with the sea, the sea of Sail, not of Steam. He describes the progression of this love from wave to wave and boat to boat. Leslie sailed during the Great Age of Sail before Industrialism had taken possession of Britain.Leslie comments on the early days of singlehanded small boat sailing: “When I first began boating in the early forties[1840s], what is now called single-handed cruising was almost unknown among amateurs….people had a vague dread of it. Much of this has passed away, and hundreds of amateur boatmen, and even ladies, are now as much at home and really safer in a sailing-boat than they would be on the back of a hunter or bicycle.”Leslie writes of one of his favorite cruising grounds about 1850: “No railway in my time came within fifteen miles of Sidmouth, and the few enterprising visitors who reached there by coach from Exeter called it dull. It was certainly not a gay place, but most of those who resided there in that happy valley did so rather with a view to quiet, and among them it was rare to find any one disposed to tamper with the grave routine of country life there.” A Waterbiography captures a Lost Age.
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