High summer sailing and exploring in the Orkney Islands
By Paul Farmer
Sailing is not just about the ocean, but also about departures and arrivals.
When you lie alongside a quay in some small town far away from your own life, almost immediately faces will present themselves, looking down from the quay.
Fifteen miles up some unheard-of river live those who, unknown to their neighbours, cling to this thin channel as their link to the world.
The faces start off by offering casual conversational questions, but soon knowledge and care burst through and you, who thought your role was to be the authority, find yourself struggling to inject a word into their retelling of life and loves.
Others ask simpler questions then leave quietly to return with their children, for whom you become an early memory that plays a part in forming their lives. They may do you the great service of remembering you when no one else does
Other faces are drawn by the name of the home port, perhaps once their home port too. Your voyage here has been an adventure, theirs have been their lives.
A ship’s arrival is an event, and some places don’t have too many of those. Events focus feelings that cause people to tell their stories. Perhaps our stories are all we are.
When you talk to the faces on the quay, that’s when your travelling begins.