Dol­phins, mu­sic, pon­toons and fine peo­ple – chap­ter one

The Oban Times - - Leisure -

Mu­sic fes­ti­vals are a sta­ple in the gig diet of most bands these days and last week­end we were lucky to ex­pe­ri­ence two of the best. It is un­for­tu­nate that the tim­ing of Heb Celt and Tiree Mu­sic Fes­ti­val (TMF) mean these two ma­jor He­bridean events hap­pen on the same week­end. The dou­ble dose of fest-fever, how­ever, gave Skip­in­nish three of the most en­joy­able gigs we have ever had and a week­end to re­mem­ber.

We left The Oban Times slip on the Cor­ran Es­planade on Thurs­day af­ter­noon and had a lovely steam up the Sound of Mull, north-west­ward across the Sea of the He­brides and into Lochbois­dale on South Uist where we were leav­ing the boat till Sun­day.

A few miles south-west of Hysker light­house, a pod of well over 50 har­bour dol­phins joined us like an Uib his teach wel­come party. The feel­ing of joy that see­ing these beau­ti­ful crea­tures at close quar­ters gave was a sign of the amaz­ing week­end we were all go­ing to have.

Mak­ing new ac­quain­tances is one of the most en­joy­able aspects of life and our night on the pon­toons at Loschbois­dale gave two such ex­pe­ri­ences.

First, when just af­ter moor­ing up a re­laxed look­ing chap strolled down the walk­way and af­ter a quick hello, im­me­di­ately of­fered us a lift to the Bor­ro­dale Ho­tel to get din­ner.

This un­ques­tioned wel­come of strangers is a rich gift to ex­pe­ri­ence and it also al­lowed us to get to food just in time. ( We reck­oned this was the guy who sent the dol­phins out un­til he told us he was a sur­geon in Aberdeen and just home on hol­i­day).

New ac­quain­tance num­ber two was sim­i­larly en­joy­able, but it be­gan with what I thought was go­ing to be a hum­ble apol­ogy and a pos­si­ble con­fronta­tion.

We had ar­rived back aboard the boat around 11.30pm af­ter be­ing well fed at the Bor­ro­dale, and just to re­lax af­ter a long day we de­cided the very thing to do was to have a glass of wine and a quiet tune – on the bag­pipes.

This didn’t be­gin well. As young Kyle led us in a fine ren­di­tion of Chi Mi’n Tir, with ac­cor­dion and mass choir ac­com­pa­ni­ment, the ac­com­mo­da­tion light of the neigh­bour­ing yacht came on, the cur­tains were ag­gres­sively opened and a face like an an­gry bag­pipe stared across the pon­toon at us.

We im­me­di­ately cut the mu­sic (af­ter another seven verses). We then dis­cov­ered that the marine tool-kit that An­drew had in­stalled didn’t in­clude a corkscrew.

So across to the freshly dis­turbed el­derly cou­ple I bravely went, partly to apol­o­gise and, if that went as planned, then to ask for a corkscrew.

As I ap­proached the stern I was ex­pect­ing a shrill com­plain­ing voice telling me that the po­lice had been called, a com­plaint had gone to Stornoway Coast­guard and the MCA had been sent a re­port of dis­tur­bance on the high seas.

No sooner could I ut­ter my po­lite and sheep­ish: ‘ Ahoy there’ than the grumpy-look­ing skip­per loudly and force­fully said in a strong Dan­ish ac­cent: ‘ Why the hell you stop? I just got beer from the fridge so I seet and leesten to bag­pipe.”

So Karl­son and his wife were im­me­di­ately in­vited aboard and a night of very good fun en­sued. To be con­tin­ued.

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