Ship to Shore

What I do want to look at is the luck and the word lucky. When I worked on the Heather Isle SY47, I classed this time as my year sabbatical. To be honest the job was fantastic but the money not great, but at that time for me it didn’t matter as job satisfaction was greater. I remember the first time we headed out to sea. I joined the boat at 4am. As we sailed out from Stornoway harbour on a fishing boat,I waited out on deck for the sunrise. For the first time seeing the town and island from another angle was strange. If I am honest as I am writing this I have the D-Day commemorations on the telly with the trumpets playing and bagpipes to remember the fallen, and so if the phrase lucky to be here has to ring true in a moment like this. As nice as it was for me to be waiting for a sunrise, there were many folks, who fought for our country and gave there lives for us to be free, who sailed onto the beaches of Normandy and many of them, would never capture the sun again.

I only cooked on a Thursday tea time for the boys. A small domestic gas oven and a four ring burner was plenty. It was only a mean task if we were rolling heavy. When we hauled for the first time the first thing I did for appreciation and respect was cracking a raw prawn open there and then a ate it. It was lovely, tender sweet and salty. For most of our meals Murdo Murray prepared some mean scoffs and was good on the pans. Of course there were the basics, the likes of mince but his monkfish curry or prawn curry the likes of which you would be hard pushed to get in a restaurant, loaded with chunky pieces of monkfish or an abundance of prawns, there was no skimping on his ingredients. Another simple meal was crab claws which were simply boiled which we just cracked open with the back of a table spoon.

Murdo also taught me a neat little way of cooking squid which I still use to this day when he made his crab and squid soup which was mind blowingly delicious and hope to share this cooking method in an up and coming recipe. One of the strangest luxury meals that was eaten was a lobster that we hauled, cooked then ate on the way home one Friday. For me it was a fun year, bloody hard work and hat off to all fishermen who try and make a living out of this way of life.

My year sabbatical was coming to an end and I had to go back to what I enjoyed most, cooking. This is where I would spend the next nine and a half years, the longest I have ever spent in a job when my average was always three years, after which I got bored and needed another challenge and this was clearly visible in the latter part of Borve. In that time I did my sea survival just as the North Sea was going through troubles and after sending my C.V to companies… nothing, did I try hard enough, I think so… could I have tried harder, perhaps, did I long for it, very much so.

It would take another two years before I get the chance to go offshore, but this time I would have to spend more money on another survival course, which is different from the North Sea survival, the S.T.C.W. This can take you onto ships rather than platforms. Eventually, and I mean eventually, this would take me to working for Marine Scotland. I work on M.P.V Minna, on a three week rotation and I love it. Kirsty knew I was wanting this kind of work for a long time and when the job opportunity came up I didn’t know what to do. I kept it to myself for a few days to think about it. The what ifs, how would it work and could I leave my wife for that length of time as we were not long newly married, we hadn’t moved into our house for that long at that point and Stramash had just started to churn out my products but more importantly, I wanted out of restaurant work. We eventually we spoke about this big change and I wish we had spoken sooner, it made more sense and where that time old phrase of a problem shared really kicked in. This is what it’s all about, as a couple working together, sharing, and encouraging each other for a better life at least, so it works as best for both of us as best we can, even though most photos etc that are put up on Facebook are mostly smiley pictures, I have no qualms in saying that it I sometimes want to put an average day, picture of general day to day living with me is like, real things, that can test a couple and on a good day having to be put in my place, yes, a photo of that would be perfect. Anyway, We were excited and nervous about my new career change and now ,I look forward to going to work, a feeling that I hadn’t had for a long time.

So this is where we are. This is the time we have, how long we get, nobody knows. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just stop the clock for a few moments because because of how fast the time is passing and for me there was that one day that my time was almost up. In the year I spent on the Heather Isle, one Monday the plan was just to be along side, load the stores and and some small jobs to do. It was the end of October and I picked up one of the boys just after 10am and headed over to Stornoway. It was a nice day and the roads were clear just up to Barvas with some slush on the road and the kind of morning where the glare of the sun was beaming onto the road, as we got onto the Barvas moor all was well and then just before the s-bends we hit slush and the van started to veer to the left of the road, I couldn’t believe it and thought that there was no way that this van was going to go off the road. Now, to me all this happened in slow motion, so I some how tweaked the wheel and got it back on to the road. It then started to slide over the the right hand side, before I knew it I was facing a transit van and it was to late to do anything.

It must have been no more than a few seconds, I think, I can’t recall if I blanked out but all I remember was looking at my passenger and trying with all my strength and mite to get my words out to see if he was ok, It felt like I a been winded like I had never before, he was startled, yes, very. The van was hit with enough force for it now to be back on the correct side of the road, but facing the wrong direction. I know that I hadn’t had my licence for to long and can only put this accident down to lack of experience. We were lucky and I mean lucky. I was sore, gutted, and embarrassed, I kept a low profile for a week but to walk away with a small fracture on my wrist, which was not just lucky but lucky to walk away with my life and the others involved who walked away.

I can’t remember what I ate that day or even that week, where as I could list the most meals I have had either on special occasions or other memorable times, events and places, that’s why I believe we should savour every meal we have and appreciate the moment as we really don’t know what’s around the corner and that tomorrow is definitely not promised.

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