The Song of the Waterlily

Martin Newell’s now-famous quartet, The Song of the Waterlily – the building of a boat, describes the building and proving of a traditional Essex deep-sea fishing smack, “from tree to sea.”


We follow the story through the eyes of a young shipwright, who helps a master shipwright to construct the boat. We then follow the progress of the Waterlily, from her launch, her naming and her first regatta race, until the day of her proving, when she must face a storm in the perilous North Sea…

“I am The Keel, therefore the king,
For me, the adze and whetstone sing…
And hewn from woodland oak so tall,
Take precedence above you all.”

The story of the Waterlily is based closely on the restoration of The Pioneer – a similar boat which was rebuilt at Brightlingsea by The Pioneer Sailing Trust, an organisation which takes on apprentices and trains them in boat-building skills.

The book of The Song of the Waterlily is illustrated by artist James Dodds and published by Jardine Press.