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The wind is inconsolable.


Crouching to vent my drysuit,

I hear gravel scatter, greeting calls

as my fellow crew rush to change

for the Shout. What’s out there? 


they ask. I tell them what I know. 

‘It’s seven and gusting’, our Launching 

Authority says, ‘’it’ll be rough by Parker’s.’ 

This we already know.


One, two, whacks on my back tell me

crew are seated, feet in stirrups.

With an all clear port and starboard, 

I open the throttle, launch into the maelstrom.


The water is bruised purple and black.  

Our ballast tank full equals the weight

of three men in the bow, keeps our

nose down as we face the turmoil


of this inland sea. On our port side,

a conspiracy of Cormorants

huddle on Salmon Island’s 

rocky crop, keeping watch.


In open water the waves

heap up, retching, dumping turf

stained lake across our bow. I power

up the face then throttle off 


so we don’t take flight at the crest, 

pendulum to a bow over 

stern capsize. By Hare Island

a turn to port and a beam sea


makes us wary of rogue waves

quarter side on. I hold a reserve 

on the helm - to power us away 

from harm if needed, and for safety,


steer in at forty-five degrees.

At Parkers Point with a boxing sea

and pyramid waves, we read all

movement, call it as I steer behind, 


in front and away from breakers.

In my earpiece our Radio 

Operator, seated behind me, transmits 

our location every fifteen to Valentia.


We see them ahead below the Middle 

Ground, side on to weather and sliding

down the shoulder of a breaking wave.

But with nothing beneath them, 


their anchor drags before their makeshift 

drogue snaps them to, bow to weather. 

I ease us in from windward.

A crew climbs across, carrying 


a radio, a smile, First Aid. 

Eight on board, all below

except the skipper, luminescent 

in his orange lifejacket.


My crew shouts to those below, 

reassures them. After a quick survey 

of frightened faces he gets to, 

sets up a bridle before he 


and the skipper haul in anchor

and drogue. I helm into wind to 

cross the T and pass the tow, count

sets as crew pays out line until I call,


‘secure the tow’. As we make way, 

we radio back to centre their rudder.

With an eye to the swell, the wind

and boat astern, we plough a trough, 


ease back as the line groans, then into 

weather we point west through Scarriff Bay, 

steering clear of the Middle Ground. In the lee of Bushy 

Island we shorten the tow, safe harbour in sight at last.

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