Ahoy! There Royal!
Pony and I set off this morning to “somewhere on the Clyde”. We cannot be any more specific as we were under the dominion of Operation Kraken. A well rounded lady informed us on arrival that our camera would be confiscated for “security reasons” if we made any attempt to record an image of this ageing hull. Therefore not wanting to contravene any anti terrorist legislation put in place for our national security we left our camera in the car. (We downloaded the above image straight from the net by Googling “Ocean Gem trawler” and took our pick from the wealth of photo’s online).
We had already anticipated a strong security presence when John Apps (skipper for the day!) had consistently refused to answer his phone. After we made it past the scrutiny of the sumo on reception we made our way over to the Ocean Gem which flies a large set of Royal Marine Corp Colours from it’s mast. We met John on the way and helped him on board with a large barrel of tar which he assured us was for caulking the wooden decks although with the ominous threat of Operation Kraken still fresh in our minds it instantly dispelled any notion we may still have had about telling tales or “touting”. Suddenly I am reminded of pale coloured images of stone throwing youths wearing flares (Rioters had much more of a sense of fashion in the seventies!) and shaven headed women bedecked in feathers. John generously offered us a hot wet to counter the dreich damage of a dull Glasgow day. He griped about having to dole out sugar which appeared to be scarce. Those A.E. lectures came flooding back, Operation Kraken, accelerant, I get it. He then proffered us both a small cigar,(short delay fuse? I couldn’t help myself the receptionist was scary. If the USMC came across her in a nightclub half a dozen of them would try and raise a flag on her.) John puffed his way through his cheroot and gave us the lowdown…………he lost me somewhere around “I love the smell of red diesel in the morning”. He reckons that six months from now the refit will be all but complete. He seemed to be suggesting that all works would be finished although I think myself that if he started using one of those tubs of tar as an ashtray for his cigars it would maybe look more promising that with some decent insurance money he may just end up sailing down the Clyde in the spring.
But somewhere on the oil soaked surface of the Clyde there is a solitary figure who has a dream, there is a man who has dispelled all thoughts of reason and common sense to pursue his goal of a sailing sanctuary that would wet the lips of Scheherazade. Safety is of no concern to him, he sailed on the Bulwark, the old one, HMS Maskers that defied the laws of physics to show that, Yes! Shit does indeed float! The two canoes strapped to the roof of the wheelhouse as an afterthought in lieu of lifeboats, shows a level of maritime contempt that has not been seen since Galtieri ordered new carpets for the Belgrano at the beginning of April ’82. And why should we be so ready to attack these harmless musings? We would just like to wish him all the best, if he pulls it off he will be declared an eccentric, if it sinks, well we all knew he was a nutter!
We will keep you updated on works as they progress. However the dictates of Operation Kraken are not the only obstacle he has to overcome. No work can be done in the rain, much the same as the Army Air Corp and their refusal to fly in inclement weather. Now if this was the Scilly Isles or a hidden Cypriot cove, easy-peasy. But it’s not it’s Glasgow by the sea. The West Coast of Scotland and a boat that doesn’t like the rain. Watch this space! ..WW.