I am at a loss to explain my emotional attachment to the old fishing boat Shemaron. It is a complicated thing to try to analyze and perhaps, it is better not to try too hard. To analyze too much would take away from an amazing experience. On a simple level, ten years ago Shemaron showed me life from a different perspective. She opened my eyes and the world came flooding in. When we found ourselves literally about to abandon ship emotions ran high.
Shemaron had not been out on the water for some weeks. Preparations for the summer season were keeping us all busy. However, a favorable weather forecast on Sunday, May 7th, made a routine excursion from Tarbert out onto Loch Fyne seem like a good idea. A short trip would provide the opportunity to flush out the bilges, remove weed from the hull and give the engine a run. We anticipated a fairly relaxed day and thought we might anchor for a few hours before returning to Tarbert.
We plotted a course to our destination on the opposite side of the Loch. I enjoyed the exhilaration of being on the deck while we cruised along in the sunshine. We reached our destination but found it more exposed than we had expected. Simultaneously we cut the speed, checked the plotter and altered course. There was a moment of confusion as to our exact situation in relation to the small islands nearby. We seemed to be in the wrong location in relation to the green island marked on our plotter. While we were expanding the screen to clarify our position there was a loud knock. My first thought was that we had hit a floating log. Chris had realized our problem a few seconds earlier but there had been no time to take evasive action. Shemaron had grounded gently but was stuck hard and fast on Robbers rock.
The conditions were warm and sunny with light winds. When I looked over the bow I could clearly see rocks extending three or four feet ahead then a blue drop off towards the seabed. It was pleasant to be out. I remember noticing how still the boat was. It felt strange to walk on the decks when there was no movement. I didn’t appreciate how dangerous our situation had become straight away, everything was so calm. I went into the fo’c’sle and pulled up the floor boards half expecting to see water gushing in the bilges but they were only normally damp. Water wasn’t coming in anywhere else. It was only after the initial assessment of no very immediate danger that I began to think ahead.
The tide was falling. Chris made an emergency call to the coastguard on the mobile phone. He was already preparing to abandon ship and thinking the onboard radio would be no use. I was beginning to realize that there was a very likely possibility that Shemaron might slip off the rocks and sink. We gathered our belongings in two bags. As I placed them at the stern I noticed that decks were listing to starboard. Chris was on the phone with the coastguard keeping them updated with our proceedings. We decided we had to abandon ship. I got into the dingy first followed by the bags then Chris. We rowed for the shore.
Would this close the Shemaron chapter in our lives?
I couldn’t take it all in everything was so calm, no panic and no fright just a dawning realization that something extraordinary was taking place. Something that might close the Shemaron chapter of our lives once and for all. I had a strong feeling of togetherness and aloneness all at the same time. Chris and I were together in the dingy but I truly believed that Shemaron was about to sink. The thought of the three of us Shemaron, Chris and myself being parted in this manner was overwhelming.
As ramifications started to present themselves of what our immediate future might hold with no boat I began to feel disoriented. We were safely together but I truly didn’t know what would happen next. It was like freefalling in ultra slow motion. We imagined the pattern of events about to unfold but the exact events and their consequences were a huge unknown quantity.
to be continued…