The Minch

A grey afternoon and a blue evening slowly turning to gold. Out on the Minch, the sun has set behind the highest hill on Harris and, with its heat withdrawing, I climb inside to escape the twilight chill.

The wind is fair but the waters are choppy. Outside, I sat on the sunlit sidedeck and rolled with the boat as it lolled and leapt in the waves. Below deck, the motion feels less kind and I keep a low profile to keep my nausea down, lying out flat on the port-side berth.

I feel the loss of the sun, our companion star, sunk to starboard as we sail south. It’s when the sun goes down that I feel lonely on the sea. However, as the darkness thickens, my eye is caught by a streak of light out of one of the starboard portlites. A shooting star? A satellite? No, it’s Venus diving down the night, or seeming to, as we lurch up and down the waves.

All stars are shooting stars when seen through the portlites – veering down, and shooting back up as the boat rises and falls; pinpointed lasers tracking the brief windows of sky before the waves rear up to engulf the view. We’re rolling in wet hills of water but the stars fly up and stream around the peaks.

The Minch, North-west Scotland
13th May 2015