1 EAGLETON NOTES: A Life on the Rolling Sea

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Life on the Rolling Sea

Well here I am on board MV Isle of Lewis. Actually our new ferry sitting idly in Greenock should have been doing this run 5 months ago but it’s now thought it will be another four or five months before she starts because of delays to the harbour works. I’ve had my mandatory bacon roll and coffee and done the Times2 crossword in the time it took to finish the coffee. To me that’s a good start to a day. Well at 0745 it wasn’t quite the start of the day which actually started over 3 hours, 7 road miles and half a Minch crossing ago.

I shouldn’t say this of course but I’ve been very lucky so far in judging the right moment to make my journeys. This weather window is a short one and more severe storms are expected this evening. By then, hopefully and road conditions permitting (heavy snow is forecast for the Highlands and down as far as Glasgow), I shall be in Glasgow.

All things considered the sea is not too bad and we are running with the wind but I suspect that the return journey may be slightly less pleasant. I shall not be on it!

Sitting here I have been contemplating 40 years of Minch crossings and some of the horrendous seas I’ve sailed on.  The old (and much hated by many) ferry MV Suilvan (which went to be a cattle boat plying between New Zealand’s North and South Islands before going to Fiji where she eventually died) used to sail regardless of the conditions. The mariners said she was a fine sea-boat but to passengers she was a corkscrewing tub. David (of Mollie fame) and I were on board crossing from Stornoway to Ullapool (as I am doing now) when the sea was very rough one pitch black winter morning about 35 years ago. We were up abaft the bridge contemplating what it must have been like in a sailing boat in days of yore. I went into the upper deck passenger accommodation and when I emerged to look for David a little later he had gone. An hour later and after much searching he was still missing. He eventually turned up having walked round to try and get dry. A wave had gone right over the top of the bow and the bridge and soaked him from head to foot. He was less than impressed by my anger at his disappearance. It was the anger of relief. I (and to a lesser extent our more sanguine friend and colleague with whom we were travelling) had been getting to the point of severe anxiety.


And that was one of the less ‘exciting’ crossings!

Update: I'm now at a friend's near Glasgow: wined, dined and wined, and cheese and wined. The journey was amazingly uneventful apart from a 90 minute holdup because of snow and traffic accidents near Drumochter (the highest point of the journey). 

26 comments:

  1. Your transportation to the mainland can be very precarious.

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    1. Red it's certainly 'interesting' and, at this time of year, one has to pick one's moments.

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  2. I should say that your luck is holding up very well, sounds like you timed everything just right! The photos from the BBC looked a bit scary regarding the weather.

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    1. Kay the weather was rather more than a bit scary at times!

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  3. Glad you're safe in Glasgow and that you had such a nice dinner. xoxo DeeDee

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  4. You certainly are leading an adventurous life, Graham. By comparison, life here must seem so dull. Hope you return home without drama. Take care.

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    1. Hmmm Pauline. I'm all for the quiet life. I can do without this sort of 'adventure' ta.

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  5. Anger that comes with relief... don't we all know this! Glad to hear the journey went so well, considering the circumstances. And here's me, feeling "exposed to the elements" during my 10 minute walk from the station back home last night, battling against high wind and rain, and feeling totally exhausted after that! I really would have a hard time surviving winter where you live, Graham. I probably would hardly ever leave the house.

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    1. Meike the people I really feel for in the sort of weather we've been having are the men (and women if there are any) who do things like climb the electricity and telephone polls in hurricanes and blizzards to reconnect us all.

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  6. I'm glad to know you arrived safely! And in spite of all your talk of a quiet life I suspect you must have quite a thirst for adventure or you wouldn't have chosen such remote corners of the world to live!! ;)

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    1. Monica I wouldn't call that adventure. To many the places I live are the centre of the universe. To me travelling to the centre of London is an adventure brought with dangers of the unknown.

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  7. At least the ferry can't blow off the runway. Glad to hear you made it.

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  8. You'd make a great sea captain for you seem to have a knack for choosing wonderful windows of opportunity for sea crossings in bad weather.
    Glad you arrived safely in Glasgow....have fun.

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    1. Perhaps, Virginia, I just know good captains! Thanks.

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  9. You have introduced me to a useful new word Graham - "abaft". I had never heard that word before, Now I will be slipping it regularly into landlubber conversations.

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    1. YP, you also have abeam,astern but not abow. Fine on the port/starboard quarter is also very nice.

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    2. It's odd, YP, how sometimes we use words that to us are everyday words but, when one thinks about it, are unlikely to be used by many.

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  10. I agree with those who say you must have a thirst for adventure to live where you do and travel to the places you do. Have a nice visit.

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    1. PTGaWS in that an adventure is defined as an exciting or unusual experience I suppose that at one time I might have considered what I do an adventure. To me, though, I simply live in two places. I do travel quite a lot but very little of it involves excitement. Or perhaps that's just my age!

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  11. It's been way too long since I lasted visited Lewis - I know this because it was the old MV Suilvan that carried me there... It was an awful journey that I spent either in the toilet or outside in the bitter wind - because as soon as I tried to sit somewhere even semi-warm I started to feel sick again...
    As for that pal of yours! I think your's was the reaction of a sane person... :-)
    I should have a business visit to the island soon-ish - I was happy about flying until I saw the recent landing... so I might just be taking my car on the ferry. Yx

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    1. MV Suilvan went out of service 20 years ago so it was a while ago Sansserif. I'll be in touch.

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