Bill Mills' room

Bill Mills

Moonlight boarders

by  Bill Mills

          Loch Gair was welcome and although there were several moorings we anchored carefully, not wanting to depend on unknown moorings.  We put the cockpit tent up, ran a line under the boom, pulled the oillies off and hung them on coat hangers onto our drying line.  Then we had a dram before preparing a meal and every wee while told each “it’s not getting any better, is it?”

          After we had eaten and washed the dishes it was after 2000.  it was a very dark night and the wind was blowing gale force with frequent stronger gusts coming through the driving stair-rods of rain.  Even in the shelter of the loch the boat was surging quite a bit.  We went forward and sent an ‘angel away to give some more weight to the chain.  An hour later we put the fisherman anchor over the side just at the forefoot and left its warp flaked on deck.  The boat was a lot quieter then.

          We turned in just before the midnight forecast and glass in hand, tucked tightly into sleeping bags heard the weatherman admit that there was a deep depression about with Storm Force 10 imminent.  It was certainly blowing force 9 outside.  The cockpit tent allowed us to keep the washboards out of the cabin hatchway and yet separate us from the wind and the lashing rain.  If there wasn’t any let up in the morning we would have to get the bus home.

          We put the light out and tried to get some sleep.  In the darkness a few words were muttered about bad weather in general.  Joshua Slocum was mentioned and there were a couple of facetious remarks about his encounter with the ghostly Portuguese Pilot who sailed SPRAY while Slocum was ill. 

          Neither of us really slept, just dozed.  Each of us got up a couple of times to check that everything was all right.  It really was a hell of a night.  About 0300 the movement of the boat changed.  She started to plunge more to her chain.  Moonlight was coming through the cabin windows.  We both made to get out of our sleeping bags but stopped dead when we saw two very aggressive figures rushing at us from the cockpit into the hatchway.

          Not boarders.  But our oilskins sliding along the drying line under the influence of wind and movement.  I wouldn’t say we had been frightened.  Speechless yes.  A little nonplussed.  Perhaps even a little apprehensive - but not really frightened!.

          The 0600 forecast was encouraging and we left Loch Gair with our harnesses on and let the reliable SAAB diesel thump us through a still nasty head sea, all the way back to Kip Marina.

         Bill Mills