Saturday, 13 August 2011

At sea

I just got back from sailing from Oban to Falmouth via Waterford on the south coast of Ireland. I hadn't been on a sizeable yacht or sailing boat since the family boat Tiercel was sold in the 1960's but once on board it seemed like yesterday. Everything you brought aboard to wear immediately becomes damp. The bunk is cramped and uncomfortable. The rocking of the boat makes you sleep well. I was seasick. An enormous pod of dolphins played alongside us, diving under the hull and using the slipstream of our wake like teenagers on skateboards. Ropes are called 'sheets' and you need to remember four sorts of knots to use for 'making fast' in various circumstances. I forgot to take sun cream so my face was badly burned - the sun did shine some of the time. It took us three hours to motor up the estuary to Waterford in southern Ireland from the sea - an astonishing distance inland. Among our number were the stage manager of the Globe theatre, a man rendered temporarily homeless by the NZ earthquake, the father of a well known standup comedian and a senior executive from freight forwarders DHL. We were divided into watches of four hours (for example I did: 8am to 12 noon; 8pm to midnight). The owner of the boat and one of her crew made the most delicious meals for the 15 of us aboard,morning noon and night in a tiny galley - some of the best cooking I have ever enjoyed. I staggered ashore with a chest infection and got to London just in time for the riots on Monday night. Worried texts began to arrive from north of the border: get out of there while you can. I hastily brought my travel plans forward and jumped on a train to Lockerbie, got a prescription for penicillin and for once found myself relishing the pitter patter of rain in Moffat's peaceful streets. It's good to be back.

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