A FAMILY AFFAIR
A relaxing day out on the boat with his sons leads to a heartwarming moment for Guy Grieve
Guy Grieve is proud that his sons are a chip off the old block
Handling teenage kids is an art and any attempt to suggest an activity generally results in an opposite reaction. Obviously I’ve long wanted my boys to come out and work on the boat and maybe even learn to scallop dive. However, if I had pressured them into any of this the result would have been, at best, forced labour. At worst, it could have been a total switch off from all things working boats and sea related.
So I’ve always left it to them to come to me, and for a while I thought it was a lost cause, so caught up seemed they in the tsunami of distracting frills and nonsense that has swamped their entire generation.
But then recently the holidays struck, and the boys came to Mull to see friends. Casually I suggested they come out to sea for the day. I wasn’t fishing due to it being a crew rest period so it could just be a little potter about.
As is now becoming expected the day dawned in its usual Californian style; clear and bright and warm. The sea sparkled and the gentlest of breezes played across the water enough to cool us all to perfection.
We steamed out of the loch and headed out across gentle blue silver waters towards the mainland. Halfway out I glanced at the sonar and saw an interesting reef show itself briefly as the boat passed over. I couldn’t resist. I swung Helena around and steamed back over it slowly. It looked very interesting indeed. There could be scallops down there. I thought I’d just have a little check as the sea was like a millpond and quiet as a library.
I made a mark on my Olex computerised sea chart over the reef and then asked my youngest boy Luke to come into the wheelhouse. ‘Luke, I have a mission for you.’ He looked at me calmly. Bright eyed and all attention
‘You’re going to drop me on that mark and as you’re nearing it gradually zoom in. At the point you drop me the boat must be in neutral and turning gently to starboard.’ He looked about. ‘How am I going to do that?’ ‘Let’s practice on a few old marks,’ I suggested, and he readily took the wheel.
Now a lot of old timers find it quite hard guiding a boat onto a computerised waypoint. They’re the analogue generation; it’s not instinctive. And so it was fascinating to see just how quickly Luke was able to guide our 10.4 tonne old boat accurately onto one practice mark after another. The little boat on the screen and the waypoint became just another one of his infernal computer games and the old ship’s gear and throttle transformed into rustic playstation controls.
I got into my gear and stood ready as Luke headed for the real waypoint. I heard the gear flip into neutral and the rpm drop away as the boat glided towards the mark whilst turning to starboard. ‘Standby,’ he called, then: ‘Go!’ I dropped in and sank down, half expecting an aborted dive due to a miss-drop. Instead I landed plum on top of the reef. The boy had done well. It was worth it too. The whole area was carpeted with good chubby scallops contentedly sucking at the current. I swam around, filling my bag in a leisurely fashion; then, when it was full, I swam slowly up and surfaced. The boat was a proper distance away – not too far and not too close.
I saw the dive ladder lowered and the boat approaching me slowly, coming to an expert halt and drifting to exactly the right spot. I glanced towards the wheelhouse and saw Oscar, my eldest boy, at the helm. As I hauled myself up the ladder and took my gear off on the sunny deck I tried to hide my satisfaction. Being teenagers, it doesn’t do to show too much approval. But for me it was a major coup. One boy had skillfully dropped me and the other picked me up. It seemed that not all those watery lessons had been in vain.
Later as the boys took turns at the helm steaming home Juliet told me quietly: ‘When you jumped in Luke said he wanted to learn to dive.’ Hearing her words a feeling of happiness suffused my heart and soul and warmed me more profoundly than any sunshine on earth.
“It seemed that not all of those watery lessons had been in vain