Dolphins, music, pontoons and fine people – chapter one
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.