Missing boat

Somewhere out there is a boat called the Och Aye. She’s a rare beauty, she is, and she’s missing. She has been missing for close to 1/2 century. 

Of all the things from the past that leaves a kind of hole in my heart, that boat is near the top of the list. 

Video by  my uncle, S. Roy Morrison

I didn’t start looking for her until recently, having lived under the mistaken assumption that she had been broken up for scrap when sold, because that is what my father told us at the time.

However, a gut feeling that she was still around finally made us do the obvious thing - search the license number. Boat license numbers are never recycled, they belong with the boat, so nothing should have come up. But . . . there it was. The license number showed activity in 2009.

There are a couple of possible reasons why my father told us what he told us. Maybe the boat had been hard to sell, as boats often are, and he ended up selling to someone who offered a ridiculously low price, claiming that it was only good to be scrapped. Can’t picture my dad being that gullible, though.

He loved that boat as much as he loved us, I think, so maybe he was feeling sad because we teenagers were no longer interested in boat trips (a temporary teen affliction), so he said it to make us feel the pain of loss he himself must have been feeling. It didn’t work at the time because we were teens. We just didn’t care. 

Of greater importance to my brother at that time was borrowing Dad’s Austin Healey Sprite to impress a girl. As for me, I was hanging out with friends, usually at Ambleside Beach in a little hidden spot we called the Garden of Eden. It seemed more important at the time, and in a way it was.

God, we were fickle, though. If I could relay just one message to my father, long dead, it would be, “We loved the Och Aye. We just forgot for awhile.”

I miss that boat. I miss the grace of her, her salty wood smell, the way she rode the waves, the safe feeling even in a storm, the gently rocking sleeps she gave each night, and swimming in the deep, knowing she was anchored nearby to grab if needed. 

I loved the sound of her. Once, not so very long ago on a windy day, I heard a sound from somewhere that was like an echo of her. I sat, eyes shut and window open, and listened until it faded away. 

Funny, looking back. I can see my dad smiling at me, and there I am, a kid, smiling back. My mum’s there too, and my brother, cursing the queen of spades he always got when we played Hearts aboard. We were so young then, without a thought to what comes next. They're dead now, and I don’t know if I can make things right or not. 

Once we learned that the Och Aye still exists, we put the word out, with pictures, to marinas. There has been one response so far, a possible sighting on Galiano Island. The guy said it sure looked like her, and that she had a ‘weird Scottish town name’ which could be Och Aye, to the non-Scots among us (it’s not a Scottish town, it means ‘ahh yes’, a most apt name).

It’s a funny thing, though. I can be brave - there are those would say brazen - about some things, but am actually feeling shaky about checking out this lead. I’ve let my hopes get too high, and what if it’s not her? 

We will check, of course, and if it is the Och Aye, and by some miracle we can buy her back, I’ll be going off the grid for awhile. And who knows, if the reality is as sweet as the memories, I may never come back.

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About the Author

This bio was written by Jo Slade. As you can see she has written about herself in the third person. What normal person would do that? They just wouldn't. Who knows how many other persons might be involved in this thing, a second person? Another third? I worry about it. I - she - we - can't even keep it straight, this paragraph is a damn mess, there are persons all over the place. Round 'em up and shoot 'em. That's what I'd do, and by golly I think that's what Jo Slade would do as well.

Biographic nutshell: Jo has been messing around with words for a long time. Sometimes she'll just say words instead of writing them, it saves on paper.

The columns that appear here are of a highly serious and scholarly nature, therefore it is advised that you keep a dictionary and ponderous thoughts nearby.

If, after reading so many thought-provoking words, you find yourself tossing and turning at night, burning with the need to email me, just do it. I answer to [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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