|English: The Ayrshire coastline A telephoto shot from the summit of Grey Hill showing the entrance to the harbour at Girvan on the right and Turnberry lighthouse on the far left, with Turnberry Village to the right of the lighthouse. Girvan is in NX while Turnberry is in NS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
One day when I went to the boat (still Chasca at the time) old George, an old guy with a small boat of his own asked me if I was going out.
"Aye, once I get the fuel and other odds and ends on board I am heading down to the light, (Turnberry Lighthouse) to see if the mackerel are still about." I replied.
"Want a passenger" He asked.
"I don't see why not." I replied, not knowing what I had let myself in for.
I was ready to let the ropes go when old George hobbled down the marina walkway carrying his fishing rod and life jacket, threw them aboard then attempted to board himself.
Easier said than done.
As I stood forward to assist him he shakily placed his foot over the rail of the boat to step on the deck, and not realising how far down the deck was, promptly fell aboard knocking my sunglasses off and landing unceremoniously in a heap on top of the fuel tank at the stern of the boat.
"Well that's me aboard he grunted" laughing as he struggled to his feet.
Off we set, and 15 minutes later we were in 60 feet of water off Turnberry Lighthouse.
The mackerel started to bite as soon as our lines began to sink, and with one haul George's fish came up with a seal nibbling at the fish dangling at the end of his line. On seeing the large dark shape emerging he got such a fright, he thought he had caught a shark, and panicked until he realised what it was.
"That's never happened before." He said. "Well that's because you never venture far." I said having a good laugh.
Before long we had a good feed each, so bored with fish that were easily caught I told old George that we would head north a bit to see if we could get some white fish like cod or lithe or pollock to give it an other name.
Old George, as you will have gathered by now was not the fittest of men, hence the fact that when he put to sea in his own boat he always had someone with him and only ventured yards from the harbour, catching enough mackerel to give him and his wife a feed now and then as they holidayed in their static caravan situated in the local caravan park.
His eyes lit up at the thought of venturing out to waters he had never fished but soon dimmed when the engine slowed down on its own, thirty seconds after I had set course and given her full throttle.
"Don't worry" I reassured him." It does that frequently but always picks up and then runs fine, its the carb. that's at fault, but the engine is too old to get parts. A bit like you." I added giving us both a laugh as the engine picked up, much to my relief.
George rolled a cigarette and enjoyed a smoke as I headed north to the top end of Culzean Bay where the water shallows on a small reef and lithe are known to gather there.
The water was nice and clear and the reef was visible under us which made George ask if it was safe enough.
"Get your line over and see, but don't let it touch the bottom or you might lose your hooks." I told him.
The boat was drifting into shallower water so, with George panicking and no fish to be had I moved off a bit to where the bottom disappeared from view and George's hand stopped shaking.
George was the first to get a bite not long after our lines were sunk and before he got his catch aboard I had one hooked to.
"We are in among them." Old George shouted as he excitedly hauled his line up as fast as he could.
Sure enough we both landed nice lithe onto the deck. threw them into our boxes and cast again, but I had forgot to let George know that we were still on the reef and to keep his line clear of the bottom.
No sooner was his line cast and he was shouting again. "Its a big one this time." He grunted as he struggled to wind in his line.
When I looked round I realised that his hooks were stuck on the bottom, and try as we might it would not shift so, nothing else for it I had to tie his line and break it away by moving the boat forward.
This freed it but his hooks were lost, and as he had not brought any more with him I decided to call it a day.
We had a good catch on board, and old George having had enough excitement for one day was only too happy to head back to the harbour.
George stood back out of harms way as I moored up at the berth in the marina, but he was so stiff in the legs that it took him an age to finally set foot on the pier. Fearing that he would fall back on me I kept well out of his way instead of helping him but he made it and walked back to his own boat to clean his fish.
NEVER AGAIN! I thought to myself, and only later found out that some others had be caught out as I was and they too had vowed not to take him out again.
He was fun to have as company but a danger to himself and all who sailed with him.
Pity because he loved going out, then again he always had his own boat to fall back on (Hope you don't mind the pun.) as long as someone was brave enough to go with him.
Some weeks later he was telling a group of fellow boat owners who had gathered to hear his always, exaggerated stories for our amusement about his day on Chasca.
He always managed to laugh at himself, and as he ended his tale, he added.
"I had never been as far north before, and it was when I spotted the icebergs that I started to worry, otherwise everything was fine."
We all had a good laugh listening to him describe how he thought he had caught a shark, and even though I was there I almost believed the added parts like the icebergs, such was the sincerity on his face as he spun his yarn.
Aye that's what you call an old sea dog I thought, even though he only fished yards from the shore, and I can only imagine the yarns he would have spun if he had actually been on old sea dog.