For whatever we lose
(like a you or a me).
Its always our self we find
In the sea.
E. E. Cummings
We sail south, moods high, plenty banter, passing well known spots that we have visited over the years. It feels strange moving past Kerrera reminiscing of Duke of Edinburgh practise expedition days, then Gylen Castle visited the previous week with my American clients, I remember standing on the promontory looking out at the sea and a wee white boat scooting by, thinking that’ll be me next week, although I won’t be turning around, I’ll be off.
At anchor near Balvicar the team start the norming/forming process, much chat and drinks with snacks. Music is on and we spot a Minke whale gently cruising around us, she stays overnight, maybe she is listening to our craic? The crew are settled in their cabins and dinner is made, enjoyed then cleared away before we retire to our bunks. I lay awake for a while my mind crammed with silent shouting, what are you doing, this is not for you, you are not a sailor, why are you leaving all that you love behind, you are soft, not like the real people that do these things?
I go up on deck in the moonlight and sit with a cup of tea, my version of a fag to ease the stress. I rationalise with myself and quiet my mind. Jeez woman you are going on holiday, its meant to be happy and fun, something you’ve planned for so long. Get a grip and sort yourself out.
After giving myself a good talking to I climb into bed and sleep peacefully. However every morning I awake with a pang of fear I can not ignore.
Next day we set off early to catch the tide and have a great sail on down to Islay and take a berth in Port Ellen. We’d been here earlier in the year on our way to Ballycastle and it was nice to feel familiar. Stuart lived at Bruichladdich as a boy and told us tales of his job barrowing the barley from the puffers to the distillery, I smile, my dad would have loved him and I think of my treasured model puffer Vital Spark sitting proudly in my living room. Stuart’s sister pays him a visit, a rare meeting as he cruises the world on deliveries or racing, she brings us homemade flapjacks too!
Off out for dinner to the Islay Hotel for a great meal of soft shelled crab, a first for me and Stewart W and we giggle as it is presented in a burger bun with its wee legs hanging out the side looking a bit like marine road kill- oh well here goes! It was delicious. Wandering back to the boat I pass our neighbours, a nice young family with two wee kids and a hound dog. Why is it live aboards always look so cool? Even the dog had a “get me” look about him.
Leaving Islay felt serious, next port would be Ireland and my home country would be behind us. I tried not to think about it. “Caledonia” playing over the waves did not help.
The leg from Islay to Dublin was lovely, nice winds, calm seas, good chat, Karl on his Ukulele and much snacking. We settled into our watch routine and our first night sail commenced. It was great, really foggy which made it quite a strain keeping a look out but the seas were so smooth with phosphorescence as our wake broke the surface like a trail of stars behind us, it was mesmerising. We have a good routine of making up food and hot water urn for underway so we could keep our energies and moods up.
John woke me around 8am to say we were coming into port, Dun Laoghaire near Dublin. I was so excited – our first foreign port of call! We raised the courtesy flag and congratulated ourselves. Even Stuart T was excited even though he has seen it all before which was nice to see. I think if you love the sea, it never fails to impress you.
A wee nap to recover from disturbed sleep, a good breakfast then on the train to Dublin’s fair city. We meet up with Sean MacGowan, John’s pal from Grantown school, such a great lad, I remembered him for early days up at Grantown-on-Spey. Always smiling with teasing eyes, happy outlook and warm hearted. Lovely conversations of those early days and the gang, parties, malarkey at school then our narratives of growing up, wives, children, careers. He shows us proudly around his city and told us of Irish politics, then his wife Triona meets us and we enjoy Korean veggie Bibimbap, well it’s different from Irish stew! Hugs and fare well greetings, we leave and I feel happy to be back on my boat which is fast becoming my world.