It was a dark and stormy night when we arrived, dropping anchor finally at midnight. Ara’ Deg, our ship, had borne us through it, her yard snapped and her mainsail useless, but ploughing on with her foresail and newly-fixed engine. It was rough sailing but we tied ourselves on, and up and down the waves through hammering rain she carried us, two bodies in one.

We rode it out together – the skipper kept us sailing and I kept my nerve – and we’re glad for that. But when the morning comes and the sky clears, we take separate tenders to row ashore to the sunny Irish harbour we find ourselves beside.

We tie them up at a set of stone steps on one of the piers. Each is tethered with its own painter and each has its own shape and buoyancy – one a rigid fibreglass shell, the other a plump inflatable. As such, they have divergent trajectories of drift, as we do once we climb up onto land. Yet while we are gone the tide – washing in, washing out – nudges them together. And when we return, there they are, sitting on the exposed sand, gunnel to gunnel, as if despite their different tendencies they belong together after all.

small scruffy fibreglass tender and inflatable grey tender beached side by side

Kilronan, Inishmore, Aran Islands, Ireland / Cill Rónáin, Inis Mór, Oileáin Árann, Éire
15th September 2015