Friday, 6 July 2007

Snapshots of a Holiday: Isley

One of the Western Isles of Scotland is a small island called Isley. It is, I think, 10 miles across (but I've a pretty definite feeling that I'm making that up) and it's got some beautiful scenery. It's famous for it's distillery I believe. And if you were part of the voyage crew on my trip it was famous for another reason.

It's the home of Denis, one of the voyage crew who was in my watch. Denis is a wonderful laugh who comes out with brilliant one liners every so often, usually totally unexpectedly. He's done some amazing and incredible things in his life and several people commented that they would have liked to have met him "before parkinsons" or when he was younger so they could have done those amazing things with him. I would have liked more time to talk with him because his stories were so interesting.

So, back to the story.

Denis lives on Isley in a little house right on the coast of the island. And we sailed through a small channel between Isley and it's next door neighbour, Jura. Literally a very narrow channel and not something I'd have wanted to sail through in the dark.

Denis had said we would see his house as we sailed past Isley but I had assumed we would just see the island and the rough area of his house.

Well, there is a reason they say that when you assume you make an ass of you and me.

I was wrong. Totally wrong.

Let me set the scene... we were on watch on the bridge but Denis had been told he could just watch the scenery and didn't need to join us as it was a special occasion. I was doing look out on the side of the ship that Isley was on and Paul was steering.

We were told that it would be 20 minutes or half an hour till we sailed near Denis' house and Paul and I both shouted down to the others hanging around having coffee to go get Denis and when he turned up insisted he remain with his watch as our personal Isley tour guide.

The appointed minute came and Steve, the second mate called over the PA for "all hands on deck and over to the port side to wave to Mary, Denis' wife".

Literally the entire voyage crew were over on the port side of the ship waving. They blew the horn and gave Denis a flag to wave to them.

We could see his house. In detail. We saw his shed and a boat parked nearby. We could see his wife and two other relatives in the garden. We could see that they were waving.

Denis was sooo touched at that, he almost couldn't believe it. And I don't suppose that I was the only one to get a little choked up at how fun and how touching such a simple thing could be. He thanked everyone including the permanent crew several times. The captain was somewhat embarrassed by his thanks but it was well earned.

I think it's safe to say that was one of the best moment of Denis' holiday. And one of the most memorable of mine.

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