Calm days and cliches….across the Moray Firth

Fresh coffee and an early tide
lift boat and crew, to the kind of morning
where breath and clichés hang.
The bonds to land and pontoons are loosened once more
And Heydays slips out into a calm
Sun-dappled Firth.
The last of the kelp glistens before sliding once more
beneath these cold northern waters.
And the magic of the moment is strong enough
or unfortunate enough
to suggest that a scientist can be lyrical…

A great day for dolphins we are told
And we scan the glassy sea
But the log tells its own tale
“Still no ***ing dolphins”.
Have Attenborough and Cousteau been lying all along
Fake dolphins…even in the mist!
The birds are real enough
but we’d make a twitcher cry
Iceland Gulls, Common Gulls and Kittiwakes?
Certainly a Fulmar grazing the waves and
bossing the Guillemots who dive away
from us as well.

The peaks of the Northern Highlands rise and beckon
from an indistinct and distant shore.
But the wind remains even more fickle
than a fast data link in Dorset.
It taunts us with a bit of easting
but scarcely creates ripples
while Lossiemouth fades into the morning haze.

More coffee…
brings the morning alive.
With a sudden burst of energy
we fill the sails and loose the engine.

It truly does feel alive.
And we are intrepid sailors gazing steely-eyed
into the cold bright north.

We ponder unkindly on past colleagues
Sat at desks
Daydreaming on a Monday morning.
As we close the shore we scan in vain
for buoys, or markers….

Or anything to reassure that our blinking technology
Is not just more
Fake information.
The river opens up against a rocky foreshore…
Fenders out, ropes ready, sails down and peace
Shattered again by the Thorneycroft.
But tranquillity soon returns to us
…and Helmsdale.

Footnote: We phoned the harbourmaster at Lossie to apologise for leaving without paying for the final night, but we get a quick call back to apologise for us having taken the bottom at low tide…and to have the last night on the house. They promise to dredge and hope we’ll come back!

Helmsdale is approaching only its 200th birthday as a town. It was created by the Duke of Sutherland as a place to bring those who he had cleared to make way for sheep and to provide a labour force for the emerging herring industry.


His come-uppance arrived in the form of a murder plot gone wrong resulting in the death of his own family and the final delicious irony of a memorial sculpture to the clearances built on the ruins of his own castle. Ha!

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