Other PicoMicroYacht

Sunday, 13 November 2016

No Man is an Island

PicoMicroYacht is most useful in estuaries and venturing out to sea carefully, but the UK rivers also beckon. So the other day PicoMicroYacht set off down the river Wey from the navigable source at Godalming, going to where it joins the Thames at Weybridge.

Whilst the Thames has grandeur the Wey can be described as a pretty river, peaceful and tranquil in parts.

In times gone past the Wey connected the Thames to the South Coast via a canal system called the Wey and Arun Canal, now defunct, but romanticised as a 'London's lost route to the sea.'


As I was about to start, a professional photographer had just come up river and was setting up his camera for a shoot. He waited for just the right light and we chatted a little.

I had to get the hang of the locks again but soon I was away and rowing down towards Guildford. The river was slow and still, like a mirror, and the trees a beautiful mixture of yellows, greens, browns and oranges.

Very soon I was at the St Catherine's footbridge and hearing on the radio that there was about to be two minutes silence to remember the war dead.  It was 11 am on the 11th of November, as we know, the time the First World War ended.

Just as I heard the announcement there was large bang and some local person had marked the start by shooting a gun, doing so again two minutes later. I halted PicoMicroYacht by the bridge during the 'silence.'

St Catherine's footbridge, technically called 'The Ferry Bridge' and replacing a ferry.

On reaching Guildford, I stopped at the Dapdune Wharf, now used a barge museum. The kind receptionist completed my permit form and allowed me to use their facilities, although they were really closed for the season.

One of the Barges at Dapdune Wharf, Guildford

As the day continued I was eventually at Newark lock and PicoMicoYacht was pulled into the rushes to hide for the night, the next day finishing the voyage.

The River Wey was used by barges for transport to Guildford as far back as the 17th Century. At the time, the English Poet, John Donne lived by the river, his most famous poem 'No Man is an Island' written in 1624.

'No Man is an Island'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

The philosophy in this poem still stands in these Brexit times.

In a clip below it is sung by a choir, but using different a version with similar sentiments, written by Joan Witney and Alex Kramer. It accompanies a short portion of my trip along the beautiful river Wey.

No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me
Each man’s grief is my own
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend

No man is an island far out in the blue
We all look to One above
Who our strength doth renew
When I help my brother, then I know that I
Plant the seeds of friendship
That will never die

I saw the people gather
I heard the music start
The song that they were singing
Is ringing in my heart

No man is an island, no man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me
Each man’s grief is my own
We need one another, so I will defend
Each man as my brother
Each man as my friend