Classic Boat

The witch that crossed the water

In his article on Cutty Sark (last month), Eric Kentley notes that witches were unable to cross water and ponders why the figurehead represents Nannie, the witch in Burns’ poem.

In 1830, James Fenimore Cooper published his The Water-Witch; or The Skimmer of the Sea. As a result of that story, Water Witch became a popular name for sailing ships and yachts.

The book describes the Water-Witch’s figurehead as having “a female form … the figure rested lightly on the ball of one foot, while the other was suspended in an easy attitude… The drapery was fluttering, scanty, and of a light sea-green tint… The face [portrayed] a superhuman expression. The locks were dishevelled, wild, and rich…. while a smile so strangely

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