Wind, Tide and Oar

A film, exploring the art of ‘engineless sailing,’ premieres at Royal Museums Greenwich before embarking on a three-month sailing tour on Thames sailing barge crewed by youngsters.

Wind, Tide & Oar is an exploration of engineless sailing and the lives of those who navigate the seas without relying on auxiliary power. Shot on 16mm analogue film over three years, it follows a diverse array of traditional boats, delving into the rhythms and motivations of sailing engineless, taking viewers on a mesmerising journey across rivers, coasts and open seas, spanning the UK, the Netherlands and France.

The film serves as a contemplative space, addressing themes such as ecology, mental health, heritage, traditional skills and maritime history. Using a 1960s hand-wound camera, filmmaker Huw Wahl offers a poetic and intimate perspective on the ancient craft of harnessing the wind for travel, inviting deep reflection on our relationship with the natural world, where sailing becomes a place to explore our interaction with and responsibility to the environment, and the world around us.

Huw Wahl said, “Making this film has taught me so much about what it means to sail engineless, but also a huge amount about filmmaking. Both are deeply rooted – during their best moments – in feeling. Whether that’s intuiting the right time to tack, or the right time to press the shutter, each requires the practitioner to enter a trance like state of concentration, deeply connected to their surroundings, almost instinctive in their reactions. If we can learn something from the sailor, it’s that response is the key to our navigation in the broadest sense.”

The premiere screening on 23 April at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich will be introduced by National Historic Ships Director Hannah Cunliffe. Filmmaker Huw Wahl and sailor Rose Ravetz will engage in a Q&A session.

Premiere tickets include same-day entrance to the Cutty Sark and a tour around the Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid.

From 26 April – 20 July Wind, Tide & Oar will embark on a  journey along the south-east coast aboard the Thames sailing barge Blue Mermaid. Crewed by Skippers of the Future, young trainees, the tour offers free film screenings, Q&A sessions and school workshops showcasing traditional maritime trades in 10 ports.

The New Menard Press is releasing an accompanying book, delving deep into the conversation between sailor, boat and elements, exploring the essence of engineless sailing. It will be launched at the film premiere.

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