A great grey roll of cloud lies over the mainland. Over the island, the noon sun is salmon-red, sidling eyewards in quick glimpses between snowballing white clouds. The boats are rolling about, lurching in their berths, jerking as the lines tug taut, as the wind stiffens and rises.
It’s hard to take a wind with a human name seriously. Yet Ophelia excites me, fraying my nerves to a quiet frenzy as her wheeching whine conducts itself through sixty-odd riggings. The noise builds in a strange sheer crescendo. The motion builds too, the boat becoming increasingly restless in her cramped quarters, straining at her moorings, sending my heart shuddering in its hull with each jarring heave. She wants to be released, wants to ride herself free on this great gusting abandon. And I do too, though instead I keep holding on, obsessing over our lines, loosening and re-looping them repeatedly as I try to find the perfect balance – enough slack to have room to move yet enough tension not to stray.
Oh, but it’s tempting – although in this wind we’d be on the shore before we had time to raise even the head of the sail. Patience, I tell myself. It’s not time to cast off yet. It’s not time to let go.
Port Bannatyne marina, Isle of Bute, Argyll, Scotland
17th October 2017