- Gordon Gray
15th March 2015
On a blustery, West Highland summer’s day in the early 1950s, a black-hulled mail steamer ploughed its way northwards from Mallaig up through the Sound of Sleat between the mainland of Scotland and the Isle of Skye.
The spray from its bow wave flew high up her sides and dark smoke was tugged from her bright red funnel by the wind. A small boy, aged about two or three, wearing a green knitted top and blue dungarees, sat on the warm deck peering through the rails, his face smiling widely with excitement.
The gentle roll of the wooden deck, the smoke blowing from the funnel, the sea splashing past in the wake, the seagulls wheeling overhead squawking furiously and the mixture of strange smells all filled him with excitement and enthralled him. In one small boy a love of ships and the sea had been born.
This love grew to embrace the Polar regions when, as a young schoolboy, he first saw the gracefully tough deep-sea trawlers that sailed to the far-off Arctic seas. He knew instantly that one day he wanted to go there himself.