Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Benbecula or Bust




The yacht has been booked for my annual trip round the Hebrides with my mates. A 38 ft sailing ketch with a diesel engine, it should be able to cope with anything the Atlantic throws at it bar a force 9 gale.

Yachtsmen are a strange breed. On the whole they are annoying tossers that have more interest in the mechanics of sailing than of the seascapes that they pass through. There is no bar bore more likely to have you heading for the exit than a self proclaimed master mariner wittering on about navigation charts and types of knot.

My lot aren’t anything like that (of course). Most yachties are public school types from the south of England that arrive in these parts clad from head to toe in brand new sailing gear. They bray on the waves, and bore everyone senseless in every saloon bar from the Mull of Kintyre to Cape Wrath.

My crew are local highlanders (actually I’m part of the crew, not Captain Ahab). We can afford a yacht for a week as we all chip in to the charter cost. This amounts to about £350 a head, which should, on the face of it, make for a reasonably cheap trip. Unfortunately this figure does not include ship stores: a weeks worth of food, and twenty bottles of rum and whisky. Then there is the cost of nightly sojourns ashore for a spot of carousing.

It all gets rather expensive, and I’m sure that I could head off for a fortnight in the Med for less. I never regret it though. The seascapes around the islands and west coast of Scotland are some of the most hauntingly beautiful on earth.

Sitting on a yacht watching the porpoises crisscrossing the prow as the Atlantic swell rolls beneath you is an otherworldly experience. It kind of puts things in perspective.

16 comments:

funny thing said...

I'm a born land-lubber (although I did once canoe up a canal in Wolverhampton).

Oh, and I also worked as a boat-builder back in the dim and distant past.

Watch out for sharks and Russian U-boats. Say hello to the Northern Lights for me.

garfer said...

I once knew a girl who lived on a houseboat. Fuckin' weirdo.

Russian U-boats aren't a worry. They sink without trace.

funny thing said...

Funny you should say that... Imp and I went looking at narrowboats on Sunday. It's my latest project.
Imp doesn't want me to do it.

Mind you, I also want to live in the antarctic and have a pet penguin. Hasn't happened yet.

Enjoy your trip. When you goin'?

J.a.G. said...

There is nothing like being on a sailboat. I love it. I grew up wandering the Gulf and San Juan's (Canada/US- west coast) with my family and it was always about the journey and beauty and being agendaless.

I'm jealous. My experience in the Hebrides was only by ferry.

Kyahgirl said...

Hope you have a great time. You will post pictures won't you?

We'll have to send ft over to break your legs if you don't. She's just tough enough to do it too. :-)

garfer said...

Do you still have the penguin? I've always fancied having a penguin to go on pub crawls with. Its wobbling gait would make me look sober.

That's a damn Yankee bark just a girl. I trust you sank it.

Rest assured, there will be no photos of my landlubber legs naked below the knee.

suburban wonder said...

Oooooh, Dramamine.

Sounds like some rough seas. Have fun, but be safe.

garfer said...

It's three months away you daft bint, but thanks for the thought.

suburban wonder said...

Daft bint?! Them's fightin' words, Garfy. Can't a girl wish you a safe trip in advance?

Daft bint. That's gratitude for the well-wishes.

Bint. That's a great word.

pissoff said...

Blah blah blah blah blah. If anything should happen to you garfer... fancy leaving me as the sole beneficiary of chez garfer and the amazing holiday homes?

frobisher said...

"Rum, sodomy & the lash" - have a great holiday!

Wyndham said...

You seem to have a lot of holidays, Garfer. Sadly, I've got a lot of interviews to do about my Greatest Hits collection so I won't be able to come. But enjoy it anyway.

Faltanus said...

garf, i want your life!

S.I.D. said...

I do a spot of sailing too garfey, and its hard to beat the lonely sea and the sky.


Prize posession is a letter from Sir Francis Chichester.

Whiskey and rum good too.

garfer said...

Not so good mixed Sid, the hangover is vile.

MHN for short said...

yep. We are but specks.