Sunday, 9 September 2007


I have spent this weekend afloat off the West Coast of Scotland. Last night we moored in Brodick Bay on the Isle of Arran and bobbing gently on the water settled down for the evening. At approximately 8pm, however, Outdoor Man who was in the process of serving up one of his wholesome bolognaise dishes suddenly exclaimed “ What’s that?”

We all looked out and what appeared to be a yacht going up in flames was clearly visible out at sea between Arran and the mainland. A Relay Mayday call had been made to the coastguard and some 5 yachts in the adjacent bay were lifting anchor to go to the rescue of anyone who might have escaped the fire into the water. We heard a passing submarine radio with a bearing and we discussed whether to stay put or offer assistance also. It was a horrific sight and the blaze which appeared to be some 3-5 miles distance was awesome. We decided to stay but continued to remain tuned into Channel 16 in case further help was required. One of the boats that had set off radioed in to say that they were within 2 miles of the blazing yacht and that it was burning “from stem to stern.” The next call however was from a boat that had just left Troon 10 minutes before, saying that as it had emerged from the harbour there had been a large explosion on shore further north and that this was the site of the fire, some 15 miles away from us. Confusion reigned as the lifeboat was being scrambled but then the coastguard confirmed that the fire was indeed onshore; there was no blazing yacht and everyone presumably returned to their anchorages.

Tucked up in my cabin later that night, I lay on my side in a semi recovery position listening to the water trickling by, being rocked gently and therapeutically to sleep. Whilst at ante natal classes years ago, I remember being told that rocking was a good way to encourage the release of endomorphins and so trigger the body’s natural pain relief mechanisms. I wondered whether or not it would be possible to replicate the experience at home; sitting sideways on a rocking chair in the bathroom maybe. An experiment for another day I yawned, as sleep took over.

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