The Wind Waker inspired me to build a boat

Playing The Wind Waker inspired me to build a boat. There, I’ve said it. It still sounds a little silly – to me at least – and I’ll get to that. But can we at least acknowledge that the game made a convincing case for the joys of sailing?

In it, the sea-breeze blew in curlicue swirls and the ocean was a rippling, rolling blanket of azure blue. Seagulls clustered, waves crested, and distant islands sat perched on the horizon like mist-wrapped, unexplored gifts.

So I spent two days one summer sawing and nailing, refashioning old garden panels and abandoned flat-pack furniture into a vessel. One fit for seafaring and sea creatures (read: the nearby lake and the ducks). I made the boatiest thing I could.

Now, I’ve since actually bought a book on making boats, and it mentions all sorts of things like ‘gunwhale’ and ‘stringer’. Nowhere does it mention ‘just build a sort-of table with sides on it’, or ‘leave lots of holes between the planks’. And I never did sail it or – given that it didn’t actually have a sail – slowly float it into any adventures. I certainly didn’t slay any monstrous duck with mystical bread crusts from a local wizard, or whatever. But on the whole I felt satisfied with my effort; hand-crafted and tangible. But it felt a bit awkward, that a project so Enid Blyton-y, so apparently wholesome could be inspired by a video game.

It’s the same with the two Ocarinas I bought years ago – Clay ovals smooth as pebbles and pocked with flute holes. I found them in a market in China, replacing the ‘ethnic’-looking, Aztec-striped one I’d previously bought from a shop (the kind that sells wind-chimes and candles). One of the ocarinas has a mysterious – to non-Chinese readers, anyway – symbol on it, but my favourite is the other one – unadorned, dark grey and vaguely amphibian, like the abandoned shell of a sea crustacean. It feels somehow historic; primal and authentic. Importantly, it’s also unbranded, without any tell-tale clues – a bright blue glaze or embossed triforce logo – that might give it away as an Ocarina of Time-inspired purchase.