Shiny Baubles

The joy of shiny baubles soon wears off. A brand new car soon becomes the thing that takes you to work. It has a scratch down the side. I have heard that it hath been said that a beautiful woman soon becomes someone who does not wash up.  Herrick’s Julia went to the toilet.

Aha! My Scaffie and I still thrill in the excitement of adventure. It is is Sunday. The weather is everything a poor Scottish boy wrapped in a damp plaid dreamt of as the August rain lashed the heather. ” Neil, there’s nae more porridge.”

The wind is onshore but very light. The lagoon is turquoise as a we gently glide over the shallow water towards the Zampa cliffs


Notice the new traveller.

I anchor on the coral and look around for a while to anchor the beauty Wordsworthlianish. I have a new second hand BCD that I bought in anticipation of Jeremy and James’s arrival next week. I throw it with tank over the side of the boat. I follow and having worked my arms through the straps of the BCD and having stuffed the breathing thing into my gob, off I go into the most amazing dive stuff. No shiny baubles here, just everlasting quality.

The coast line is cut with a series of ravines. Each ravine is covered with a remarkable variety of coral. Where there is coral, there are fish. My scuba ambitions are very precise. I want to look at pretty things. Depth, difficulty, nitro, dive computers and that sort of thing I empty my nose on.

Here is a short movie that does absolutely no justice to the incredible colors.

Holy cow! I emerge from the wonder world and am faced with the ultimate test. Can I get back in the boat? This manoeuvre has gained an enormous significance for me. It is not easy. It is about height.  I have to propel myself high over the bulwark to flop down into the boat. This height is generated by my arms pushing upwards and my legs, with fins attached, generating drive. I am an old man.  Today I succeed but I sometimes see myself like the old grey wolf who soon will not pin his buck.

We sail elegantly off the anchor but the tide is going down, the lagoon is shallower.  The wind is pleasantly stronger. Will I be able to cross the reef into the lagoon? Or will the water be too shallow and the Scaffie crunches into coral?


We head to the bar.

Tennyson worried about crossing the bar or reef.

Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,
   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.
   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;
   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.

The big sail drives us towards the bar


We cross the bar with inches to spare.

What a great sail!   I pick up the mooring and go to say hi to the clown fish family that lives just meters from my house.


I mean what has happened to your home? It is blanched like Blanche de Castille



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1 Response to Shiny Baubles

  1. Lew Davidson says:

    Neil, A most enjoyable post. The new traveler looks like it adds to the pleasure and efficiency of your sailing. How great that you continue to have adventures in your Scaffie and that you share them with others. If your video failed to capture the beauty of the reef and fish, then actually being there must have been quite stunning. The video alone was pretty grand. Glad you made it back into the boat. (Thanks for the description of how you use the fins to propel you upwards; I have wondered how I would manage getting high enough to get back in.) I’m also glad you made it back across the bar, and I hope you have many years of doing so ahead. Your philosophical observations are enjoyable reminders of things we often lose sight of (“shiny baubles” bring brief, limited pleasure). All of that and Eric Clapton too-Wow!

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