Bulletin Four

Meteorological terms: “Better” and “Soon”?

Guid friends, relatives and associated dogs (Bob and Alfie),

Any inaccuracies in the typoaing are due to the fact that the boat is rolling 30 degrees - and it's tied up in Tobermory Harbour, a haven of safety and comfort after the rigours and dangers of anchoring in exposed lochs in the West. Dreams of peace have been rudely interrupted by the sudden appearance of a vigorous swell from the north, just one of the many little surprises that assail the brave seafarer. Consequences include spilling of wine and beer, scalding by hot tea, assault by flying kettles and sticking forks in self by missing the plate.

A football manager once described one of his players as "Dogshit" because he "got all over" the field. We too have been all over. But thoughts of renaming the old boat after canine ordure have been driven out by coming on a yacht anchored in the harbour on the Isle of Canna. This boat's name, blazoned on each side, is "Now You Are Living In Us, JESUS". It is known to some that the crew of Deneys Reitz are not religious, but Broontroosers has developed a full range of completely neurotic superstitions such as only wearing dark blue nether undergarments when going to sea, frequent finger crossing and never changing his socks, blue of course. His suggestion of following the example of the Jesus people and renaming the boat, "Now I'm living in Blue Underpants. OH JESUS!!", was listened to patiently by the Navigator and curtly rejected.

However, once again, we get ahead of ourselves. Last communication was from an invisible Tobermory harbour or somesuch place. But, heartened by Met Ace Bartlett's foretelling of Good Weather To Come (but hold on, don't wet yourself, not quite yet), we set sail with good heart in the direction of the thrice dreaded Ardnamurchan Point, gateway to the North and Far West and procreator of terrifying swells. At first, all was relatively calm, but gradually it dawned on the quailing Broontroosers that All Was Not Well at the point. This was signalled by the creeping development of ever larger waves coming from at least three directions at once, causing bucking and rolling that pleasured only the boat, which as usual shoulder-charged and head-butted every frothing monster, throwing salt water in all directions like an elephant having a bath. Frequent changes of course to avoid rolling were instantly defeated by another steep-sided horror looming out of the bloody murk from a direction totally unconnected with that of its predecessor ( the visibility had decreased to about 50 metres by this time). Broontrooser's ironic remarks to the effect that having the juxtaposition of his heart and liver changed violently in a cross between a roller coaster, wind tunnel and cloud chamber was just what he had come to sea for were coolly dismissed by the Navigator, who averred that things would "get better soon". This led to an acrimonious debate about the exact definitions of "better" and "soon" which so occupied the crew that they didn't notice for some time that things were getting better. So we continued whilst rejoicing about the potency of blue underpants (Well, that's what he rejoiced about, Nav.) in a decreasing sea with improving visibility to Loch Nevis, home of a pub unconnected by road to anywhere, but which is constantly packed with hardy walkers and yachties. At this time of year, they seem to be mainly hearty types from Yorkshire, clad in stout boots, parkas and greeting each other with "Eh Oop, nice drop o' reain". But later on there is an invasion of investment bankers, lawyers, property developers and the like from London, discussing the coming season at Glyndbourne loudly. They are all there ostensibly to participate in yomping, but are probably in reality hatching nefarious deals and sharing information on bonuses. We pointed this out to one of our fellow drinkers in the pub who offered to lead a commando raid from the sea to 'take a few of them out', now that he knew where they were hiding. Another suggested that banker stalking would be quite a successful business proposition. So the evening passed enjoyably to the accompaniment of good conversation, food and wine.

The next day was not one of Bartlett's best, the visibility being two feet, but we left the loch by radar and were greeted by more leaden rollers bounding out of the full Atlantic to the west until we were able to turn and run into the well-named Sound Of Sleat ( its a sort of hissing noise) and progressed towards Kylerhea, the sound between the Isle of Skye and mainland of the 100 knot tide which we hit at the right time thanks to the Navigator's skills with a tide chart. Thus to Plockton, a beautiful village with spectacular gardens and a totally unexpected gale in the harbour. From where the bloody hell did the Clyde Cruising Club get the idea of describing it as "secure and well-sheltered" in their Cruising Directions??.

DR in Plockton Harbour

But next morning, all was calm and sunny, so off to the Isle of Rona (pop. 2) and Big harbour, a truly beautiful anchorage untroubled by crowds as Bill Cowie and his partner (the pop.) were friendly if approached but busy with many things, like taking care of a large island.

Readers will rejoice that we approach the end of "Deneys Reitz's" early summer cruise. This year's Hebridean adventures have been particularly character-building and have included:

So that's the end of the first half, as Met genius Bartlett said. He reckons we're one-nil up at half time because we survived and we'll drink to that. The trip was a success because of the wonderful quality of Bartlett's forecasts of winds and sea states, the accuracy of the Navigators's pilotage and of course the character of the old boat. Raise a glass to all.

Now ashore in the cottage. A familiar experience - the bloody bath and toilet drains are blocked! Imports from the boat have been put to work, a bloody great plunger and some stuff from our boating times in Germany, "Drano Power Gel; Gegen hartnackigste Verstopfungen". "Lost Haare und sinkt durch stehendes Wasser". That will sort it!!

More much later...