Ah. It has just occurred to me that some of you might have clicked on here expecting a discourse on erotic literature … Sorry; I’m on about the sea again, specifically, the North Sea in late November.
‘Just how many shades of grey can you get?’ I asked my colleague as I handed over the watch to him. He peered out of the bridge windows with newly woken ‘I wish I was still in my bunk’ eyes.
‘Ummm. Two,’ was his reply. ‘There’s dark grey and then there’s light grey.’ He shrugged and made himself busy with the kettle. He clearly wasn’t in a communicative mood and needed coffee. I left him to it and retreated to a lower deck.
He is wrong, of course, there are tons of different greys and I think I’ve seen most of them in the last couple of days. I won’t describe them all to you because, let’s face it, it’s grey and grey is grey is grey. I will show you instead.
But never mind all this, I know the only reason you’re reading is to discover how the buoys are doing, isn’t it?
Well, the morning after making my last post, a loud clunking and banging out on deck woke me. My bunk is narrow, uncomfortable and rather high off the deck. I didn’t want to leave it because, on a rolling ship, it’s a hazardous procedure but I needed to know what the noise was.
I lifted my deadlight. (Big steel cover over a porthole). North Yorkshire was gone.
I couldn’t be certain because it’s hidden beneath the waves but I was fairly sure that we’d made it out to Dogger Bank while I was asleep. The big clue was the activity going on just outside my porthole.
Yes, our wave rider was finally being released into the wild. In common with other small, yellow smart buoys he will read wave heights and send back all sorts of interesting data to his handlers back on dry land. Even if he decides to abscond, like his predecessor, he will, very helpfully, send back his GPS coordinates and the significant wave height he’s experiencing. Isn’t that kind?
That’s how we came to spend several days steaming up and down a stretch of Danish coast – much like we did at Whitby. Yes, you know the drill by now, six miles away on our starboard beam is Thyboron. Now, six miles away on our port beam is Thyboron etc. Meanwhile our free and unfettered wave rider who had kicked free of his anchor chain and bobbed away to the continent, sent us reports of wave heights that were too much for us to go and pick him up in. We needed patience.
‘I’ve got a date on Friday,’ said Mr Boffin.
‘I’ve got another job to go to,’ said Jim.
‘Significant wave height is now 4.2m,’ said the latest report from awol wave rider.
No one is going anywhere (except north past Thyboron, then south past Thyboron).
Then, the wave rider took pity on us. Or maybe he didn’t fancy the Baltic after all because he turned around and drifted back towards us. We couldn’t go and pick him up until the waves got smaller so he came to find us.
Then he told us when the waves were low enough to go and get him.
So we did. It was nearly midnight, it was cold but it was calm and both Boffins were ready for a reunion with their pal.
Easy Rider the Rebel Without an Anchor came aboard quietly. He sat down on an old tyre to protect him from bouncing around on the steel deck and lashed securely into place. Thirty hours of steaming at full tilt back towards UK followed. The weather was pretty fine and we made good time. Mr Boffin didn’t make his date and Jim didn’t get to his next job in time but when they woke up at seven this morning, we’d just moored up and they were free to take their charge and go.
By now, Easy Rider is probably back at the depot or lab or wherever it is that he lives when he’s ashore and I like to think he’s regaling the younger more impressionable buoys with stories of wild adventures from his time of running free on the old North Sea. Meanwhile, out on the Dogger Bank, his successor is wriggling and struggling and maybe, just maybe, he’s slipping loose from the chains that bind him. Perhaps he’s heard that the English Channel is nice this time of year. Or the Bay of Biscay. Or …