Bill Mills' room

Bill Mills

False hopes

by  Bill Mills


Sailing as 2nd Mate on board the 73ft OYC ketch Taikoo on a weekend cruise, on the Saturday night we ended up at the old pier at Kilmun , at the north end of the Holy Loch.

          With all the main chores completed and the vessel being neat and tidy, the skipper and crew abandoned ship for the meagre night life of Kilmun.  That left myself to have a look at the appropriate charts and tide tables, ready for places that we might sail to the next day.  And the bosun, who had some stitching on a sail to finish off.

          After about an hour the bosun called to me from the cockpit, where she had had been working –“ I’m just finishing now.”. From the chart table in the dog-house, I called back that I was ready to go ashore and getting my oily jacket from the after cabin.  A couple of minutes later our blonde and very presentable bosun was standing beside me at the cabin door.  “All set?” – I asked, pulling my oily anorak over my head.  “Yes – let’s go and catch up on the others.” –she said.

          As I switched the lights out and turned to go through the door into the doghouse – the bosun turned and said – “ By the way -  I’ve got something interesting to tell you.”

 She came closer and inclined her head towards me.  The huge ears of the un-nautical Mickey Mouse woollen hat she insisted wearing at all times – tickled my face.  She smelled very pleasant.  Kind of – fresh air, salt water and a gentle bottled fragrance.

          She spoke very slowly.  Even her breath was acceptable.  Putting her hands near the collar of my anorak she spoke very quietly.– “ The thing is – not many people know about this – but I think you should know- but – perhaps I really shouldn’t tell you. –“.  With that she gave me a friendly peck on the cheek and said quickly –“See you at the pub.” –and darted up onto the deck.

          I went to follow her but couldn’t.  I could hardly move my head.  While talking to me, our bosun had deftly tied the lacing of my oily hood to the brass ring handle of the door and left me there.

Try it.  It is extremely difficult in those circumstances and feeling like a right nanny, to untie the thin, tight, multi-knotted lacing without tearing your jacket, pulling your ears off or choking yourself.  The thought of what was being said in the pub didn’t help.

          After a long time struggling in the dark I managed to get all the taut little ligatures undone and stormed up the road to find the pub.

          As I barged through the door a mighty cheer went up from the rear of the lounge.  The skipper, the crew of twelve and that bloody bosun.


The skipper called over to me –“Over here Bill – we all said you could get out of that tangle- well done.  Come on, you have a lot of catching up to do.”  He waved his hand towards the bar – where a small group of drams and pints awaited me. 

          The dreadful bosun came up to me with a glass in her hand –“ And that triple malt is from me.”  She gave me a rather nice kiss.”

          Between the kiss and the malt my anger quickly subsided and I turned to the serious matter of catching up on the others.

         Bill Mills