BULLETIN THREE - Er, that's it, then
Most of you will be relieved to hear that the intrepid adventures of the brave craft 'Deneys Reitz' and her assorted crew of (almost) humans and dogs are done for 2008, so here is the official Bulletin on yet another truly successful season. (This report is in the tradition of the Great Michael Roy, a Lincoln eccentric, who would report in the Lincolnshire Echo: "Michael Roy has just returned to Lincoln after another successful season at Butlin's holiday camp, Skegness". Those in the know tended to snigger unkindly because they knew that he was a lavatory cleaner).
So, following the hallowed Roy tradition: "Deneys Reitz has just completed a successful season of adventure and exploration in the Hebridean Islands"
Or alternatively, if you follow the analyses of Professor Marcus Alexander, alias Professor (The Prof) Alexandrov, you will hear a totally different story. Alexandrov, using the latest CIA/MI5 techniques of intelligence gathering and analysis has deduced that this year saw:
- Several weeks drinking Grolsch and smoking ganja in "The Hesperides", an infamous bar and bordello in Amsterdam; hallucinating ridiculous narratives about cruising in Scotland
- A flying visit to Copenhagen, the boat being taken there by the faithful delivery crew, as there is no chance that the cowardly Broontroosers would ever take to the open water
- And onwards to Russia, there to cruise the picturesque canals around Chernobyl.
So, believe it or not, here is the Official Bulletin:
- Investigated Skye, including anchorages amongst the dreaded Coolin mountains, home of ferocious Katabatic winds (no winds evident, Charlotte). No, that terror came later in Ulva - Don.
- Swooned our way along the Knoydart peninsula, opposite Skye, with topography to match Norway and a pub only connected by ferry from Skye that was patronised, incongruously, if not alarmingly, by a predominance of Glyndbourne-habituating investment bankers and City lawyers. (true, for once he's not romancing - Charlotte)
- Passed by for future reference, Eigg, Muck, Rum and Canna, known as the Small Isles because they're not very big
- Spent much time about the Isle of Mull, including several visits to the Dark Side, on one of which we could see more than 250 metres. Meandered round the isles to the west of Mull: Ulva (now featured in a brand-new Limerick composed by the crew and that great rhymester, Henning Sieferts, of which more later), Gometra, Staffa, the Treshnish Isles and Iona.
- Patronised the marina on the Isle of Kerrera, opposite Oban, practised boat-jumping and ladder-scrambling for the sake of 30 pence off the price of diesel on Oban North Pier.
- During all of this, discovered two great restaurants, Cafe Fish in Tobermory and another, The Plockton Shores, in Plockton; saw 2 Minke whales, many basking sharks, giant squid (No!!!, Totty), innumerable porpoises, a dolphin, countless birds - Manx Shearwaters, Razorbills, Guillimots, Gannets, Puffins, Skuas, Ravens, Golden Eagles, Buzzards etc
- Rescued a drifting American fender (the bounty of nature) that had made its way all the way across the Atlantic to join our motley collection of car tyres and assorted windfalls
- Encountered the inimitable Mountain Cows of Mull, who were touting for starring roles in a documentary. "Cast including busty Momma, Big Bull (needs no socks down his pants, geddit) and nubile, if a little hairy Karen Kow (whoar, what a set!).
So, the scene is set for next season, when, having done our preliminary recce's, we will set about Besting the West. Just think, St Kilda, 60 miles out into the open Atlantic, Barra, North Uist, the Summer Isles (so called because nobody dares go there in winter), Cape Wrath, jutting into the wild northern seas, the Shetlands and who knows, a dash across the tempestuous North Sea to Norway..... (Stop that now, that's the sort of moonshine that got us into the s...t in the west of Ireland - Charlotte).
The Art of Impeccable Cruising - another master-class
Those of you who have followed the Broontroosers Master-classes on the Art of Impeccable Cruising will be delighted to see the next instalment.
This is on the vital topic of:
The use of Irony, Sarcasm, Shouting and Apoplectic Profane Bawling in Controlling the Crew (to no effect at all, Totty) and its supplement, Grovelling Apologies. (That doesn't work either).
Hrrmph. To continue...... ...
The skilful skipper will normally murmur suggestions to the crew, which of course, will be accepted with alacrity, such is his standing in their eyes. But, at times, signs of disagreement or reluctance may emerge, or it may become apparent that the crew has no bloody idea what they are at. This calls for an ironic comment, for example, "Some would say that it is better in most circumstances to steer between those rocks".
In the event of simple incompetence, a touch of sarcasm may be used to good effect. For example, "In the old days, we used to tie knots so that they could be undone again when casting off". (It must be emphasised that remarks such as this are not to be even muttered in the direction of the co-skipper, lest frightful consequences ensue, such as refusal to navigate).
Shouting can be a very good way of releasing stress and the inevitable tensions that will always arise on boats. Here is a good example of Best Practice: "Look at the size of those bloody waves. Christ Almighty, we are all doomed! There is no way this boat will stand up to such a pounding, its The End!!! Whose bloody idea was it to go out when it is obvious that any sane person would be safely ensconced in a pub!!!"
Totty: " Be quiet immediately. Its an ex-lifeboat and you insisted that the wind would shortly abate"). Skipper: "Hrrmph, bugger, grrr... sorry".
Report on the fitness of the crew, by Ship's Medical Officer, Dr. Harold Shipmate
Old readers will remember Dr Shipmate for his ground-breaking action research into the effects of alcohol on the crews of cruising yachts. Forsaking traditional methods, Dr Shipmate participated fully in the research, subjecting his body to the same rigours as the rest of the crew. The results were spectacular, resulting in an epic paper for the German Journal of Medical Health, entitled "Alcohoolkopfsmertz und Weinkrankenheit auf Britische Spoortsboote, hic". (Enough, this is your son you are denigrating, and anyhow, you drank just as much - Charlotte).
Hrumph.... To the report:
" Unfortunately, I find that I am unable to give the crew a completely clean bill of health, owing to a number of factors:
- First, The physical condition of the core crew is marginal. Members demonstrate a wide variety of frailties, which, if they further deteriorate, may make the boat under their command a hazard to shipping. I refer of course to the condition of backs, knees, ankles and general incapacity to move freely due to overall stiffness. Assessment - Marginal Pass, recommend if possible that crew includes one physically competent person
- Second, The drinking habits of one of the crew, sometimes referred to by himself as "The Skipper", severely limits the effectiveness of the boat after the hours of darkness. This syndrome is also to be noticed amongst most members of the temporary crew. Assessment - this boat should not go to sea after closing time.
- Third, and most serious: The psychological condition of "The Skipper" leads to serious worries. This person seems to demonstrate a strong tendency towards paranoid delusions (for example, small waves are about to "get him"), sometimes swinging into dangerous exhilaration ("let's go all the way round Ireland, to hell with the weather") and demonstrates a probable state of unstable inner turmoil by whistling tunelessly most of the time. Also, the boat appears to be over-aggressive, being inclined to viciously attack the nearest wave ("Bring 'em on, the bigger the better"). However, balancing this, the rest of the crew seem to be relatively sane, apart from a tendency to hum under their breath. Assessment - Marginal pass, as long as the eccentric tendencies of "The Skipper" are balanced by at least one competent and sane person aboard."
H. Shipmate; BMed, MRCP, BSc
So, that's it for another year. We can look forward to a great season next year, bolstered by the enthusiastic endorsement of our medical officer.
Before we go, many thanks to The Great Bartlett, whose weather forecasts invariably put the official versions to shame, and to Jen, Jane, Curt and Margaretta, dogs Bob and Alf and the numerous correspondents who kept us sane - and , of course, the old boat, which this year was seriously disappointed by the lack of turbulence on the water.
We finish with an epic Limerick, jointly composed by the crew and Henning Sieferts. Below is the exchange of correspondence that led to this masterpiece:
- Sieferts, "There must be a Limerick to make use of the Sound of Ulva?"
- Deneys Reitz, "OK, we'll start - There was a young lady from Ulva"
- Sieferts, "Who had an intimate problem to solva"
- Deneys Reitz, "We lodge a protest about the rhyming of Ulva and solva. But, we'll let it pass, being good sports. So, she bought a large cork"
- Sieferts, "And a long-handled fork"
- Deneys Reitz, "To hell with PC: To give virginal shape to her v....a"
- Sieferts, "Gosh, that hadn't occurred to me..."