Watching the World go by with ‘ Wayfarer’ .
Ispent a bright weekend doing a little island- hopping. As much fun as being at sea is, leaving port and arriving back in harbour are always the most exciting bits for me. At one docking in particular my excitement seemed to be shared.
A little lad — maybe four years old — had arrived on the harbourside with his granddad, presumably to see the big boat come in. ( It was a small ferry, but to a four- year- old…)
Leaning on the railing I watched him point, jump excitedly, ask his granddad a hundred questions. And he happily returned my wave.
When the crew need to tie the boat up to the harbour, they don’t just throw those big hawsers over the side. They start by tossing a light rope to the harbour- workers — this one had a knot the size of a tennis ball on the end. They use that to pull the much heavier hawser over to the bollard.
This time the rope landed between the harbour- worker and the little lad. The man got the nod he looked for from granddad and he, in turn, gave the nod to the boy. The boy ran over, grabbed the knotted end of the rope and put it straight into the harbour- worker’s hands. The hawser ( along with its companion from the stern of the vessel) was pulled across and tied off. Winches on board the ferry tightened the hawsers and the ferry was pulled securely against the rubber pads on the side of the harbour.
As the passengers disembarked I heard the harbour- worker tell the boy, “Look what we did!” The resultant smile was wonderful and I can only imagine that the self- belief inspired would take a little boy a long way in life.
Team- work! It is often at its best when it includes someone the team doesn’t really need — when it thinks as much of building the future as it does about being strong in the present.
Near the back of the harbour a man had some fancy camera equipment set up. It was aimed along the coast at some rocks. I squinted to see what could possibly be of interest out there. He saw my interest and motioned me over.
“Looks completely black, doesn’t it?” On the digital screen of his camera was a cormorant, basking in the spring- time sun. It did, indeed, look completely black.
“But, look closer.” He pressed a button repeatedly for a much closer shot. There was a white speckle at the back of its head, an orange section on the side of the beak, blue on its breast, brown wing- feathers tipped with blue or black, and its eyes were like emeralds.
“Like people,” he said. “One thing from a distance, usually very different when you get a closer look.”
I thought again of the rough, burly dock- worker. Someone I might have crossed the road to avoid if I had seen him approach from a distance, but who must have seemed like a real hero to a little boy who got to see him close up.
Cormorants — more interesting the closer you get.
A ferry packed with sightseers leaves the harbour at Torquay in Devon.