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From my diary 1999

Eye of the wind - main mast from the helm

Anchor watch Canna, Hebrides, in thirty Knots of wind:

Standing here alongside the windlass on the sloping deck, in the blackness of the night, is an awesome experience. The foc'sal head shields me from most of the wind, but from none of the sound. It's like a movie- set up here! The ship's head is to wind, the deck is rolling back and forth, and with it so are the masts and rigging. All this is gently illuminated by the scattered white light from the ship's riding light, fixed just below the fore top.

The white fore-mast, the black shrouds,masses of rigging and ropes are now lit, now dark. Whilst high above in silhouette, both fore and main top-masts and yards rapidly roll back and forth through thirty degrees, scribing an arc across the glittering array of March stars. The heavens are putting on a wonderful show in the Hebridean blackness.

Dominating this visual display is the wind; howling through the rigging like some angry beast - awesome!

To starboard, in the corner of my eye, something white moves in the darkness as the ship rolls towards it. Alone, I flinch, feeling momentary fear: a sea monster reaching out to take me? Relax - it's just a white capped wave breaking close by: phew! The anchor dragged in the graveyard watch, and the 'real crew' moved her round the headland in search of better holding ground.


Alan Heywood


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