The cavernous Bowling Sea Lock drops slowly, sinking down into the Clyde as the blether of onlookers, farewell well wishers and BW boys gradually gives way to the dark echoing drip of the bottom of the lock. No going back now. Trepidation evaporates at last with the commitment to the voyage and Jimmy on the Wee Spark alongside us shouts a toast. Amy and I toss back a bracing half, our cheers swirling in the dregs of the lock. Suddenly the gates are opening. A pillar of blue sky appears and then widens and we’re blinking into the blinding light, shrinking back for just a second then Peccadillo roars out and we’re off, dodging the wrecks and veering out onto the silence of the Clyde.
The water. It’s all about the water. Bodies of water that push the boat up or carry her on or pull her back. Teasing the rudder like a shoal of slippery fish or growling under the hull in gutted confusion… standing a wave at our stern that simply follows but doesn’t break about us. Chopping angrily at the turn of the tide or the roar of a passing rib. Ebbing from river and lochs…
This Firth of Clyde is an ocean of intricate tides to be underestimated at your peril or harnessed for the sail of your life.
Water, here dripping from the wall of the darkening Bolwing lock, now stretching a mile to either bank in a vastness that sucks the air from a canal woman’s breath, where are my banks! Claustrophobia gives way to agoraphobia as the vastness of water sucks at our hearts till we have to scream really loud just to get our breaths back.