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What better way to banish the Monday blues than to introduce a total change of routine. Last Monday I accompanied my husband to Ayr on another boaty mission. If you follow this blog you will have been introduced to our boat Shemaron whose original home was Ayrshire. Shemaron is a purpose built ring netter who partnered the Watchful during the course of her career at the herring.

The Watchful coming into land at Ayr 
Fate has dictated that the Watchful ends her days as an exhibit, sitting in a dry dock in Ayr harbor. She seems a rather sad spectacle sitting in this lonely spot trapped within site of the sea, but she is at home here and she provides a thread of heritage, which stretches back to the more vibrant days of Ayr harbour. In an effort to breathe some historical life back into this lovely old boat the Community Payback unpaid work team have taken her under their wing. My husband has been happy to offer support for this project believing that the current situation of the Watchful can be much improved upon. He was even happier I might add to become a recognised consultant on the project.

The journey up the road was a tedious monotony of slow miles and grisly weather stuck behind “artic’s” and Asda vans. Once we had arrived however the day took off on a current of positive enthusiasm and we were able to view the wheelhouse that has been built according to the provided spec and stands awaiting connection to Watchfuls' deck. 

From then on our day moved swiftly through genial and engaging conversations with ex crew and skippers whose pool of knowledge we continue to enjoy dipping into as they share with us stories and memories of their experiences at the fishing. We were especially excited to see some rare photographs showing Wistaria in the early 60’s fishing around the Minch and at various points of call on her way home through the Crinnan Canal.

We arrived at the Dunure Inn still buoyed up by the positive stream of energy that always surrounds historical interest in the particular area of the herring fishery. We joined the harbour master, sitting on the rocks and brought him up to date with the progress of the Watchful. Looking into the wind across the sea the Kintyre coast was lost in the grey but I was reminded of the lovely view I had enjoyed a couple of weeks ago looking from Kildonan Dunn over the sea towards Ayr.

 We enjoyed a superb meal at the Dunure Inn, after which we stepped into the remains of the day and made our way up to the castle. The track took us above the harsh rocky seascape, from the ruined castle windows we spied the labyrinth and of course we had to walk its pathways as it nestled into the grey stony shore.
We left the window open as we slept the sea never far from our dreams.

Under the quiet solitude of overlooked harbours run streams of knowledge and remembrance that connect the past to the present. These streams are not only running through recent generations they carry the historical record of fishing to ancient times when the world was a very different place. In the very beginning even before farming there was fishing.

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Somewhere in the world of latitudes and longitudes fifty five degrees north and five degrees west, north but not so far north as Lapland and on the western fringes where the light defilement is minimal we find ourselves on the deck of our boat, it is night, it is dark, and there is a sharpening in the breeze.

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