9) Hope wins a prize
The penultimate chapter, in which our Hopeists accidentally get entered into a Classic Boat Rally and discover the existence of females.
We drop by Elie for a night. Elie is like the ultimate young children place. It has a beach that dries out for miles and inflatable Achilles caterpillars to sit on while you’re dragged by speedboats, screaming child screams. There are a thousand kids tombstoning off the harbour wall (this being The Big Thing with preteens in Scotland) and they spectacularly fail to notice a fucking sailing boat swathing through them. We gently navigate kid porridge (me on bowsprit screaming MOOVE and waving frantically) and moor against a wall. Hope doesnt really belong in Elie but we do our bit when we meet Jim Ireland (hi Jim! ahoy there lads!) and give his two sons permission to come aboard and explore our fiendish pirate ship.
But everyone for the past week or so has told us that the Anstruther Muster is a…must and we must head back there. So…
In Anstruther, we get meeted and greeted – literally – we’ve only just tied up the boat and didnt inform anyone we was goin there – by a charming chap who’s all like :
“Ah! The guys from Hope, good, good, well, if you’d like to tie up against the wall underneath the funfair, there’s a free meal on Saturday in the Boathouse, write out an A4 sheet with some details about Hope would you? I’ll print it out and put it on the lamp post. See you!”
That was Bill. He runs the Classic Boat Rally.
He had me at “free meal” to be honest. At this point in the journey, I’d eat Camilla Parker-Bowles if I didn’t have to wash up afterwards.
So we’re…entered into the Anstruther Classic Boat Rally. We do our bit by dressing up in our best sailor togs n poncing about for three days on the boat answering alot of questions about Hope from the throngs of mustermakers who pack Anstruther for the weekend.
Pretty much everyone we’ve met on our travels turns up there. There are RNLI guys from Dunbar and our friends with the bong and the mandolin, and people we’ve met in St. Monans, and people from Aberdour and it feels all climaxy and symbolic and Wizard of Oz and just really…nice. It just is nice.
We get the free meal. And at the free meal are women! I’m not lyin man.
To be fair, there have been women before. There were at least two in Aberdour and there was the Female and there were the “dykes who run a pub” (quote from Limekilns sailor) and there are women in the shops. Paul goes to a bakers and the girl there says to him
“You’ve come off a boat, haven’t you. I can smell it off you.”
Good chat up line, I thought.
Anyway this lot are The Wives. The Wives are fuckin tough cookies and spend most of their time belittling their husband’s career/hobby/personality (keeping a boat is a war of attrition, it seems) and flirting with me. Which is nice too.
We go to the Anstruther Classic Boat awards ceremony. It’s in the town hall. There is security on the door and a live band but no vol au vents. By now The Wives are polluted. To be fair, their husbands are too, but they’re a more reserved lot, except the Dunbar boys who are on a three day binge and have now reached the jiving stage (nowt better in life than seein fat straight blokes dance with each other). The band swings into a cover of Katrina and the Waves’ summer smash Walking on Sunshine, and Anstruther is a frenzied saturnalia.
We’ve inside information – not that inside actually, everyone we met today told us – that Hope is to win a cup of some sort. Bill reads out various awards (in my ear is a running ironic and just too loud commentary on how useless all this is, from one of The Wives) and Paul’s name is announced to win the cup for best classic boat wot travelled the furthest. Given that every other boat came from two miles down the road, it wasn’t much of a competition.
But its a big cup, and I’ve never won a cup before. It feels good, if only so we can tell John Hesp, who built Hope and who has been following this blog. It’s an honour to have learnt to sail in your boat, Sir. People love her.
We dance with The Wives and it all gets very touchy feely. We talk smut with security about the ladies of Anstruther. The Dunbar guys are still more interested in dancing with each other than girls. It feels like a real night out.
Hungover the next day, we are invited onboard for a biscuit – I really needed that biscuit, thanks Bee – by a lovely couple, Bee and Sandy, who own and run a huuuuge boat called Britannia. It’s quite a thing. Then it’s Anstruther Fishing Museum, a huge 3 hour trek through the reasons this trip was started. The museum is fantastic, exemplary. They even have a library and a prayer room. I spot the painting – or a version of it – that Christopher Rush was talking about in chapter 4 of this blog :
And then in the cafe, we spot Kenny.
Kenny is another reason we started this trip. Me and Paul kinda bonded over Kenny. Throughout this trip Paul’s been all : “Where do you think Kenny is now?” “What do you think Kenny’s doing now” “I bet Kenny lives in that house. No, that one. I bet he lives in that one”. Kenny has been travelling alongside us.
Kenny is the guy behind a band called King Creosote, and he made an album called Diamond Mine, with John Hopkins. It’s such a beautiful record. You can find examples of it on youtube, but really, just buy it. Buy it now. You need a good cry.
So we see Kenny in the coffee shop, and course don’t speak to him. We pap him! :
Incidentally, if this isn’t Kenny and is just some guy who you know, don’t tell me, alright? It’s essential to this story that this memory is true.
There isn’t much more to say. Winning a prize – even if we do have to give it back – and seeing Kenny feels like an ending. Or if not, a good place to tie it off.
So we unravel our mooring ropes, put down the bowsprit, take in the fenders, attach the staysail, Paul puts up the mainsail. We click our seaboots three times.
Sometimes it’s very hard to turn around.
Especially when you have to sail home.