The night was so calm. The sea just sat there and shivered. The old trawler I was alone in was thumping its way west. The trawl was working rather efficiently tonight and producing a lovely lot of fish. Now with the decks cleared I had thirty minutes before I hauled the net once more to empty on the deck.
The horizon studded in stars was miles away. No lights, told me I was alone, a rare thing for this part of the English Channel. I dozed at the wheel, daring not to go to sleep. My mind was far away. Only the glow of my navigation lights filtered through the salt encrusted glass of the wheelhouse windows. I was miles away up in the hills of my homeland. Suddenly, and without any warning, night turned to brilliant day. Startled, I jumped to stare into a dazzling light and became aware of a whine of an engine. There alongside me was one of Her Majesty’s fishing patrol vessels casting its searchlight onto my little house. As I gathered my wits together, a couple of law enforcers landed on deck armed with machine guns. They introduced themselves and set to work checking the catch, and then demanded I haul the trawl to measure the mesh size. The reason, they explained, for boarding me was that it was Saturday night and I was far from my homeport on my own. The fishing fleet, they said, did not work on Saturday because of no Sunday market. They thanked me and sailed away.
I was still shaking from their sudden appearance when I got home with the fish for father’s shop, which always did a roaring trade on Sundays with all the holidaymakers and day-trippers from inland.
Rye’s Own 22 December 2015
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