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Island life

The evening clouds boil over distant Mull, all of which augers rain and wind for the days ahead. Well it is August, statistically the wettest month, and I guess the rain has to fall somewhere.

Oban marina is, as everyone should know, not in Oban itself but is attached to the island one looks out at from the Oban shore, across the bay – the Isle of Kerrera. Few marinas have such beautiful surroundings (unless of course they are also located in the Western Isles) but island life brings its complications. There was a time, for instance, when Kerrera was a transit station between the Island of Mull and the mainland and cattle made the final leg of their journey to the mainland from Rhu Cruidh (Cow Point) at Ardantrive – the place of the swimming. Oh for a good boat then! Many a cow would have been surprised to discover for the first time in its life that it had an innate ability to swim, something it shares with most other animals, although sadly not with humans.

Goods delivered to the marina today are placed in the blue box on the north pier in Oban. (I felt a picture was rather wasted but imagine a roadside sandbox in navy blue and you have it.) The ferryman picks up any package placed in or near the box then acts as postman, a system that relies on honesty and local knowledge and now having put it to the test, I can confirm that it does actually work. Since pulling on ropes of any sort is now forbidden to me, something I have in common, incidentally, with one seventh of the seamen in Nelson’s navy who would have been found wearing support trusses to provide comfort from their own hernias, I am engaged in some refurbishment work inside Cirrus, removing moribund plastic headlining and replacing with cork tiles. It was the tiles that found their way here via the blue box.

Marina life is endlessly fascinating, watching boats come and go – berthing attempts are always entertaining, newcomers staggering about on sea legs after many days on board, chatting with our new neighbours across the pontoon or else on the ferry to the shops on the mainland. We slowly come to be regarded as fixtures in a world of transients, something permanent, always there when you come by.

Just three boats along on our pontoon lies Shafa, Dave’s modest craft. Dave lives aboard with his cat, Sukie, and uses his cameras to take dramatic pictures of some of the boats sailing around these waters. This is one of his. He has a good eye for a shot as can be seen from the gallery of pictures on his own ScotA website.

When he insisted on pointing his lens my way, then suggested that a bucket of cold water thrown my way would add to the drama I felt things might have gone too far. Fortunately I managed to dissuade him.

Like our fellow marina dwellers, tonight we batten the hatches securely as there is a gale coming our way. The weather whisks in rapidly from the Atlantic, touches us briefly then moves on. When there is rain, which is often, it never seems to linger and no matter how heavy it falls it always runs away safely. The sea we float on never seems to overflow, which is nice.

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