Writing Down Water

I've been reading Jonathan Raban's Passage to Juneau: A Sea and Its Meanings – part of my resolve to read at least one complete book a month, instead of jumping from book to article to website. He's sailing up the Northwest coast from Seattle to Juneau, and talking about earlier visitors, Native American art, among other things, along the way. It's amazing, how he can write in so many ways about water. Here are two paragraphs which occur within a page of each other:
... Off Big Bay, great curds of yeasty scum marked the sites of rips and whirlpools that were now nearly extinct. A few logs and uprooted kelp stems continued to revolve in patches of broken water. But the surviving eddies were flaccid, and there was no real heart in their attempts to wrench the steering from my hands. The boat sauntered, at eight knots going on nine, through Gillard Passage and Dent Rapids – a scene of spent turmoil, like the tumbled sheets of an empty bed, with an appropriately salty, post-coital smell of bladderwrack drying on the rocks..

... The only motion was that of the incoming tide, stealing smoothly through the forest at one knot. Where fallen branches obstructed the current near the shore, they sprouted whiskers of turbulence that were steadily maturing into braided beards. The water was moving just fast enough to feel the abrasion of the air against it, and its surface was altering from glassy to stippled with the strengthening flood. Soon the false wind, brushing against the tide, created a trellis-like pattern of interlocked wavelets, their raised edges only a millimetre or two high; just deep enough to catch, and shape, a scoop of light.

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