Remembering a close encounter with sharks on a childhood holiday in Scotland.
This story was made on a five-day community based digital storytelling workshop for people in the Community at Heart Barton Hill area, led by Dani Landau, Liz Milner and Beth Trimmer.
The course took place at Watershed, and the Wellspring Centre, Barton Hill, during July 2005
At the age of nine I often longed to have a holiday adventure. It always happened to children in the books I read but I wanted it to happen to me.
[A violin plays “When the boat comes in”]
Summer holidays seemed long and idyllic. My favourite destination the Scottish highlands with its winding road, sloping flower-filled meadows, craggy mountains, fast-flowing rivers and ice cold lochs.
One such holiday was spent by Loch Fyne, a large sea loch. My dad hired a small boat from a neighbouring village which we took out to fish for mackerel in the deep cold water, just for fun. Mum filleted our catch and we had delicious grilled mackerel for breakfast.
One beautiful tranquil day my brother Alasdair was standing at the end of the jetty. Without any warning a huge creature rocketed out of the motionless water, soared above his head and then plunged back into the water with an enormous splash [splashing sound]. We were shocked and dumfounded.
We told our parents. They had heard rumours of basking sharks that would [????] into the loch from surrounding oceans. Sometimes even whales would come inside and become marooned in the loch.
On the last day of the holiday I went with my dad and brother to return our boat to the little village. We set off [sound of boat engine].
“Can I fish for mackerel with my line and spinner?”. “Yes.”, dad said. We headed out towards the middle of the loch. It was twilight; the sun was beginning to fade. Suddenly the engine started to splutter [engine sound stops, sound of lapping water]. “Oh no!” My fishing line had caught up in the engine. My dad panicked. “We need to take the engine off and unravel the line”, he said angrily. I felt responsible, guilty, but above all, frozen with terror.
As my dad tried to wrest the engine from the boat he suddenly groaned and placed his hands on his lower back. “Ooh my lumbago, my back! Peter, quick, get the oars and start rowing for the shore.”
[Sound of rowing] By this time it was dark and we were in the middle of the cold, deep loch with no engine, no lifebelts and no means of communication.
As I looked around us I noticed several triangular shapes moving in the water all around. Horrified, it dawned on me that these were sharks’ fins and there must have been five or six very near our boat. Suddenly, two of these enromous creatures catapulted out of the water only yards away from our stranded boat. With an almighty explosion of water they dived back into the depths creating large waves which rocked the boat alarmingly.
[Boat engine sound] As if from nowhere, I heard the familiar noise of the little outboard motor spluttering back to life. Thank God the engine was working again. we returned on our way in the almost-pitch dark save for the twinkling lights sprinkled round the bay which guided and beckoned to us.
When we landed I jumped out of the boat and rushed to where my mum and aunty were anxiously waiting for us. “What kept you so long? We were worried”
“We were surrounded by sharks, but we managed to escape.”. The boatman told us that there were at least twenty basking sharks in the bay that night. [A violin plays “When the boat comes in”] I knew nothing about these creatures, only that some sharks had big teeth and would attack people. Only later I learnt that they are the second largest sharks in the world, growing up to forty feet in length but are completely harmless. I’ve had many adventures since, but none that I will remember so vividly as my close encounter with sharks.
All media not otherwise credited created by the story author, or permission obtained, used under copyright licence.