Friday, 12 September 2008

Midnight encounter

12.35am. What a beautiful night – clear sky, (nearly) full moon, not a breath..

I have just crossed from the mainland and had an unexpected encounter on the sound. As I was starting the outboard I saw what I thought was a boat’s navigation light passing between two of the moored yachts on the Islandmore side of the sound. That’s quite unusual at this time of night and this late in the season, so I motored through the anchorage with more care than usual, and sure enough found myself in someone else’s wake.

When I got closer I could see the silhouette of a fishing boat against the moon. Someone was standing outside the wheelhouse, on top of which, sure enough, there was a dim light. So I drew alongside (probably frightened the life out of him, when I think about it) and shouted ‘Nice night!’, to which he replied ‘Going to be cold!’ and then, ‘You off to shoot one?’ (don’t ask - he wasn't talking about guns though). I told him I was on my way to the cabin and he said he had just salvaged a yacht from the rocks at Whiterock – which figured, as it was half an hour after high water, the best time to pull a boat off. He said the yacht was somewhere behind him, coming without navigation lights.

By this time we were level with the cabin so I said Goodnight and peeled off, and he shouted after me: ‘You’ll need a fire in there tonight!’

For some reason it felt a little surreal. I thought of The Shepherd, Frederick Forsyth’s short novel about a pilot’s ghostly postwar encounter in the air. I never saw more than the man’s outline, and I didn’t get his name; but I can’t truthfully write it up as a ghostly encounter because as I was tying up at the jetty, the yacht he had so recently rescued passed ever so quietly by..
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