Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Past Meets Present

August 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

past present title

Fiona Malkin Shemaron a beautiful endeavour book coverThere are people to whom the past is just a memory, and others who dwell in the past to avoid the here and now. Then there are people like Fiona Malkin and her husband, Christopher, who saw a vessel firmly rooted in the past but refused to let her stay there. The loving (and frustrating) details of the voyage from 1949’s Wistaria to today’s Shemaron are detailed in Fiona Malkin’s book, Shemaron, A Beautiful Encounter.

Wisteria was a fishing boat — more specifically, a working boat called a ring netter. It cast a circular net in pursuit of herring, and employed a mechanism to haul up its cumbersome and heavy haul. Built to fulfill a need, it did so for decades before the industry moved on and left its boats behind.

Fiona + Chris aboard ShemaronChristopher Malkin’s childhood memories included the ring netters and his wife was looking to include new experiences into their family lore. She was in love with the sea and slowly succumbed to Shemaron’s clumsy flirtations with her. Eventually tight on money but abundantly rich with expectations, the couple gave the boat a model-worthy makeover while mostly preserving her working class stance.

WISTARIA 1950sAs Shemaron tosses out her net and draws Fiona in, she inspires her new owner to pen both prose and poetry. The resulting book moves seamlessly between these two means of expressing admiration and affection; the author is a talented writer who spins her tale of refurbishing a boat in Scotland into an account of accomplishment that will catch every reader.

For more information, visit www.shemaron.co.uk  and www.facebook.com/ringnetter/.

By Lita Smith-Mines

webPlus_web_green1   Read an excerpt from Shemaron

At some point, I put on my life jacket, an instinctive response to the surroundings. We checked and re-checked our calculations; we were satisfied they were all correct but we couldn’t be sure. There was no comfort zone. How much is knowledge, how much is experience, and how much is chance?

We drew closer, so small on the waves under the sheer cliffs of Kintyre, an inconsequential trifle on the watery waste. The sea around us changed; it lost the faithful roll of waves. Instead, it had patterns; we saw them forming on the surface and pushed over them.

This was the Mull of Kintyre, magnet for shipwrecks and plane wrecks alike. We had both heard the joke – be careful to dodge the masts of shipwrecks on your way round. The surrounding rocks and reefs have intimidating names; there are long lists of boats that have met their doom by Arranman’s Barrels. The Fleetwood trawlers called this part of the ocean the Gates of Hell. The rocks are said to have magnetic qualities that upset compass readings, and for a fair way round there is no reliable mobile signal. It is not unusual for long conversational silences whilst traversing this Neptunian deep, all eyes ever watchful for the unexpected and unpredictable. This was our route to Campbeltown, round these towering rocks that promote disturbance to the natural order and unease in the elements.

I started to feel queasy so Chris suggested that I take the wheel, thinking it might help me to have something to concentrate on. Great rings and watery circles swirled around our bows, unfurling and vanishing. I was tense. Being at the wheel kept my nerves in order and my sickness at bay, but my brain had gone into overdrive. My eyes darted between the charts, horizon, control panels, and cliffs as I tried to keep an eye on the oil pressure and temperature gauges. The unpredictable movements of our boat were disconcerting; I could feel the wood of the deck and frames twist and strain. There was a ridge ahead, a step in the ocean; the approaching sea was all white water. The oak frames juddered. In my hands, the wheel went slack as our rudder pushed into empty eddies, confused momentarily by the lack of speed in the current. The noise from the engine went up an octave and our hearts jolted in panic. Worried that some unnatural power of the Mull had taken hold of our boat, we looked around us for an explanation. To our relief, we saw that the binoculars had fallen from the shelf and the strap had caught on the accelerator lever.



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