Old Hand’s voyage to Ireland Part 1

While A is away, the blog still gets to play. Please welcome a swab on the Old Hand, from A View from the Wheelhouse.

Blinded by spray, I grabbed the weather rail as the north wind collided with the ebb and turned  Saint George’s Channel into a churning mass of breaking seas. We beat westward until the conical shapes of the Skelligs rose out of the Irish Sea like the Tall, Shining Ones of ancient Celtic lore.

McWhirr peered through the wheelhouse windows.

“Looks like there’s some dirty weather knocking about.”

A wall of black cloud bore down on us from the northwest.

“Aye Captain, it looks forbidding enough. Should we shorten sail?”

“Shorten nothing lad, this is just the fair wind we need to make our offing. Better get some shut-eye, we wont fetch the Blaskett’s before noon.”

Though hard pressed, Old Hand was holding steady, and for an old salt like McWhirr, it was but a pleasant Sunday sail. The crew had, perhaps too hastily, volunteered to guest blog on D&A Dialogues. So here we were sailing through some of the most treacherous waters in the world; where Atlantic gales hammered the coastline into fantastic stone megaliths, in search of some Druid prince with a name you could hang your oilskins on.

I lay on the pilot berth below as the rush of water along the hull eased me into fitful sleep. I seemed to float in a a gray haze that hung low over the water. A hooded figure in an ox-hide boat came out of the fog and hailed across the waters:

“C’d M’ile Failte.”

C: Are you D?

D: Yeah. Are you McWhirr?

C: No I’m only a swab on Old Hand. Katie said I might find you here.

D: Why have you come?

C: Well, on a rash impulse I signed on for the voyage. What’s all this about time travel anyway?

D: It all comes down to awareness of intent.

C: Come again?

D: A warrior from the Sidh must have respect, awareness of fear, wakefulness at all times and total confidence.

C: Is it true King Arthur is asleep below some hillside waiting to return and right wrongs?

D: More to the point: are you awake?

C: Of course I’m awake.

D: Do you know that all directions-each way-point along the course you sailed to arrive at this particular point on the globe-extend into eternity?

C: What does that have to do with anything? I thought this was about dialogue.

D: You only want answers that conform to your conception of the world-to your mental habits. The Druid warrior must give up all these up as so much flotsam on the sea of infinity. He must give up everything-even his death.

C: We almost sank off the Horn getting here and you go all esoteric on me. Can’t you just give me a straight answer?

D: What do you want to know?

C: Is it true that Parnell never died, but awaits the hour of return?

D: More to the point: who are you? The way your always going about McWhirr. We know he’s a stiff-ya don’t have to go on and on about it. In fact, McWhirr doesn’t even exist outside your mind.

C: Of course he exists. He’s at the helm now.

D: Are you sure?

With a loud smash the ship made a sharp lurch to starboard.  I jumped from the pilot berth and, on mounting the deck, beheld a dismal scene-the wind had risen to gale force and the steering station was abandoned!  Old Hand was being relentlessly driven by the foul tide toward the jagged rocks to leeward…


To be continued – A View from the Wheelhouse will be back on July 18 to continue his story!


Published by Dogfish Bay

I am an artist, writer and sailor in the Pacific Northwest.

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