“Cruise of the Torsa”
Log edited by Mrs. T. Piggot
Transcribed by Malcolm Piggot August 2003
[ It might be interesting to put this narrative in the context of current events of the time. The Munich crisis was coming to the boil in July 1938.
Prime Minister Neville Chamberlin would return in September 1938 and declare that he had secured …”Peace in our Time.” In the meantime in July 1938 Jews in Germany were prohibited from using spas and holiday beaches frequented by non Jews. In the same month Jews of 15 and over were obliged by law to carry at all times identification that marked them as Jews.
Jim Piggot, one of the happy crew of Torsa, was to be enlisted in the Military Police on 8th May 1939 at the age of 26 and served in France – being evacuated from Cherburg – North Africa and Italy. He was appointed Seargent Major (CSM) in May 1943. Jim was awarded the British Empire Medal ( Military Division ) in September 1943 and mentioned in Dispatches ( Gazetted on 23/5/46) . Jim and Flo married during the war ( April 1941 )and Jim was finally demobilised in February 1946.]
We had looked forward to this cruise and had been torn between hope and fear as for some time prior to our starting date the weather was cold wet and stormy. However, we set off on Thursday evening from Fairlie at 8.15 in good spirits, well found in every particular, the prospect of good weather none too bright. We picked up a mooring in Port Bannatyne and after supper turned in about 1230 a.m. All four were awake bright and early on Friday morning. Jim and Flo went on shore returning with bacon and eggs and rolls to which we did ample justice and after clearing up we got our engines going and in glorious sunshine we set off on our cruise. We had never seen the Kyles of Bute looking better, the vivid green of fields and trees being reflected in the calm water. On we chugged through the narrows, past Tighnabruaich, around Ardlamont Point into Loch Fyne, setting a straight course for Ardrishaig. By this time hunger was making the crew desperate and desperations was making them eloquent but the Skipper said never a word in answer to our pleading and we took the law into our own hands. Flo made a delightful cup of tea. The Skipper although so scornful of our need for food did well, having two cups of tea with biscuits. Outside of the opening top the Crinan Canal we were accosted by a sailor in a motorboat who enquired if we were going through the Canal. On answering in the affirmative he said we would require a pilot to open the lock gates &c. s we were glad to have his services as going through the Canal being a new experience for the Skipper was causing him some uneasiness. It proved a good thing, in fact we could not have got along comfortably without his services. We went into and out of 15 locks. Jim managed the engine, Father manipulated ropes and talked to the paid hand, Flo caught and threw hawsers and tied them with clove hitches and I was given an easy job to keep the punt rope from being entangled in the propeller. I have a kind of feeling now looking back that it was just something to keep me employed and not at all necessary. Locks, locks and more locks, the worms crying out and no prospect of them being satisfied. While we were waiting in one lock Flo was fascinated by a lazy old duffer who was fishing, his rod was fastened on the side of the Canal, and on the line was a cork, the supposition was that if there was a nibble the cork would bob and all he would have to do would be to pull in the salmon. Flo dos not see the cork bob and the pangs of hunger attacked her anew. The stretches between the locks were very picturesque and really we enjoyed the passage through the Canal, especially for the novelty. Pa and the pilot by this time were blood brothers and on arriving at the Crinan Canal Basin he secured for us (at the expense of a Silverette Cruiser which came out of the lock alongside the Torsa ) the best place. After tying up securely, Flo dashed on the potatoes which she had prepared on the way and in no time we had a posh dinner, 3 course. Needles to say most of the polite conversations were dispensed with – we simply bogged in. After our meal did we feel good? I ask you!! There were other five cruisers I the basin. Crinan consists of a Hotel, Store and P.O. and a few scattered houses. An Official, very pleasant indeed, visited us, took great particulars who we were, where our boat was registered where we were going and where we had come from. Jim supplied him with the information. I had taken with me one pound of steak (which I had ordered from McGregor) with the laudable intention of wasting not. During our passage through the canal it was brought out and inspected as a potential dinner. We discussed its merits, stewed, fired or steamed, decided on fired but on further discussion found we had no fat to fry it. I suggested smelling it to Flo to see if it was fresh. Of course you can guess what happened (Mother was fresh). Flo looked at the steak with a mournful eye and turning to make another brilliant suggestion saw the “pun” of steak fleeing into the Canal with a splash – that of course settled the streak problem and when the ribald laughter had died down we were all glad to know that ham (boiled) was to be the entrée.
We took four hours to come through the Canal which is considered good going. Our pilot was so please with us that he gave his name and telephone number to Jim so that we might ‘phone for him on coming back. Accident No1 – the ship’s puddings burst in one of he locks and we left a trail of cork behind us. After dinner, the young members of the crew dressed and went for a walk. Father stayed with me to make the time pass like a dream. He did his best but on missing him (I only turned my back for a second). I saw he was deep in conversation with the crew of a sailing boat just come in from the Firth of Lorne. By the way they had no motor and would have to take their boat through the Canal by man power. No slops could be put into the Canal Basin, so we climbed the hills to see the lovely views. We retired to bed this night in silence (as far as possible).
Next morning – Saturday – we still had glorious sunshine and at 12 o’clock passed through the last lock into the Firth of Lorne, full of good spirits and hams and eggs. Such a day and such a sail – I will be careful after this in asserting that there is nothing to beat the Firth of Clyde. Hills and bays, islands and little lochs, skirting the shores of Jura we passed the island of Scarba and chugged on through straits and sounds too numerous to mention; the scenery beggars description – perhaps it was because of the glorious weather and good company but I never enjoyed a sail so well. We reached Oban between 4 and 5, [and] had a delightful meal in the cosy anchorage of Brandystone Bay. By the way, we on this stage of our cruise had afternoon tea en route (note my French). No complaints. We had the meeting of the Barrs as our bogey here, but had made up our minds we would not look too particularly for their boarding house and trusted they would not be looking for us. We had some shopping to do so we all put on our shore togs, quickied our dials and went on shore feeling good. Father had Mr Barr’s address in his hand – “Monzievaird”. On getting on to the road, the very first house staring us in the face was it, right in front of it was the Torsa at anchor – were we mortified. However they proved to be friendly, terribly in fact. Poor old J.B. looked frail, Mack was very jolly and Mrs M so nice, Robin quite sensible – in fact they were all real nice. We did our shopping. Flo and I looked at all the lovely things in Chalmer’s shop. Jim very nearly bought Flo an opal necklace – £180 but of course we would not allow him. Flo has really no ensemble to go with it. Instead we all had a big ice drink and with our bundles we took a taxi back to the jetty, getting on board tired and hungry. We had supper, sardines, oatcakes, cream cakes, nu-vita and cheese, got to bed in subdued merriment after a perfect day. Accident No 2 green cushion blew overboard in the Firth of Lorne.
Sunday were we surprised on waking to see the change in the weather. We thought something would happen as Jim spilled the salt last night. Notwithstanding the change in the weather, the spirits are still good, breakfast at 9 (German) the young bloods take a turn on shore to get milk and eggs. Nothing doing in Oban in that line on Sunday so we set off for Tobermory after lunch 1.30p.m. with tide and wind in our favour. The Barrs turned out in force to wave us off and we dipped our flag in return. A fine drizzle of rain was by this time falling and the mist was down almost to the water’s edge making visibility poor; most of the yachts which were moored at Brandystone bay beside us, were in the Crinan Canal Basin with us too, They left one by one and Father was in a fever to get going also. Now, we were in, to us, foreign water, the visibility being poor we had to sail by chart, however for novices we did very well indeed picking out the landmarks, lighthouses and buoys; we sailed up the Sound of Mull but could see nothing of the Morven shore for mist and drizzle – there is a strong tide here and we simply romped along getting into Tobermory at 6 o’clock, all ready for dinner, Flo as usual having the spuds prepared ready to dash on as soon as the anchor was dropped. We secured a great anchorage near the shore in Tobermory bay among a large number of craft of every description and size. On went the steamer, a most valuable utensil, on the first flat potatoes, on the next peas and soup. The entrée was boiled ham and tongue, the dessert custard and pears with biscuits and cheese and a cup of tea. When we got outside of that we would not have given a hoot if the snow had come on. The rain showed sign of going off and Jim and Flo went ashore for a stroll. The first of the cruising club boats came into the Bay about 8 o’clock, moored alongside of the Torsa and told us the Shamrock was a long way behind and would not be in for about 3 hours at least. Jim and Floe returned and after supper we retired with much hilarity.
Retiring was a big job as we had to blow up 4 pal o’mine and make a corresponding number of beds. However when one can see the funny side of a job it seems easy. I wished I had seen the Shamrock at anchor before I retired but there was not a breath of wind so I knew they would take some time yet. I wakened at 4.40 a.m. and looked out. I saw her at anchor and went back to bed satisfied. Jim and Flo, to make sure of having rolls to breakfast left a note under the baker’s shop door “ Please reserve 8 rolls for the crew of the motor boat Torsa”.
We were up early to-day, Monday, the sun was shining brightly, the rolls milk and ham and eggs were waiting for us. Jim had gone for them and had also got 1 dozen for the crew of Shamrock as they were so tired they could hardly give Jim their order. There were so may yachts and motor boats in the bay that one could almost walk ashore from boat to boat. Everyone was jolly and friendly and we enjoyed the yachtsmen’s company. We poshed ourselves up after breakfast and went ashore for supplies. We walked right along the front looked at the shops, did our shopping and seeing an advertisement in the hotel window of a bus drive we decided to go; we got on board with our stores, had a cup of tea, invited Arnie and Jimmy to dinner at seven and got back to the hotel promptly at 2.30 p.m. The proprietor of the bus came to us and said he could not get a party for the run but if we gave him 1/- per head more than the fare he would give us a private car. We were pleased and got into the car – a large Humber. I really cannot describe adequately this beautiful run, mountains and inland lochs, heather clad moorland, uphill roads and hairpin bends giving vistas of the sea. We saw the islands of Gometra, Staffa, Iona, Coll, the Freshnish islands and others too numerous to remember. Our driver, an extremely fine young man, was able to give us the names of all the islands &c. &c. and tell us lots of interesting things about all the places we passed. Lithgow, the shipbuilder, has a place here and owns a lot of ground in Mull. We were glad to know it was not owned by some Sassenach. Father found out that the drover had been at one time employed by Rose the Grocer again bringing the idea to our mind that the world is a small place after all. Flo and I wondered if Marjory had tramped the road we were motoring, we were really thrilled with the grand beauty of the scenery – the bus run was a success. We came off art Calgary sands, such gorgeous sands as white as snow, not a soul in sight, walked down to the water’s edge and almost went in for a bathe in the nude, the water was so inviting. We had our photos taken and tried o look our best. We got home to schedule time, got quickly on board and in no time Flo had a course dinner made and ready to serve when the crew of the Shamrock came over ready to eat string as Jimmy J. said. Soup, steak and onions, peas, pears and cream( y milk ) biscuits and cheese, bread and raspberry jam and tea disappeared miraculously, the boys all loosened their belts and went into the open air to smoke tell the tale. Flo and I washed the dishes and said four was an ideal company. We bid them goodnight at 9.30 p.m. as they meant to go to bed early; tomorrow we go south and they continue their journey north. I just must put the driver’s name in this log ( Ian Campbell ) as I promised him I would. I also must say here before I forget our electric lights are the brightest in Tobermory Bay and can be seen clearly above all others fro the shore. The gulls here are so cheeky they almost come into the cabin and take what they want. Jim and Flo have gone ashore for their stroll and the rain has begun again after a glorious day. If it rains all night I do not care but I hope we have it dry for our sail to Oban tomorrow. Accident No,3. Mother threw away the dental brush – such a beauty ( Kleenezie ) with the dirty washing water heave ho into the briny and got Oh such a dirty look from Popsie.
I had almost a heart attach just now, father sounded the horn violently to scare away the seagulls who had taken a fancy to roost on our deck. Flo’s fault for feeding them with digestive biscuits and ham fat; such a girl, such a girl – can cook a piece of steak to a turn, cheers from the boys. I must tell you of three hikers who crossed our path twice. The first time we saw them was on our passage through the Crinan Canal. They were a man and a woman and a boy about 12. The man and boy were in Highland costume and the woman was dressed also in kilt an blouse, all had large packs on their backs and were going a good steady pace. On our way home from our bus drive we again met them, this time in Mull near Salen, how they had got there was a puzzle to us – they certainly could not have walked across the sea.
It has rained all night and this morning nothing or no place could look more dismal than Tobermory Bay. Lots of craft that came in with us on Sunday evening left during Monday but their places were rapidly filled with new arrivals. Elizabeth Todrick is here with her boat. She had the company of her brother and a young boy to Tobermory, but they both left and she sail to-day alone for the Outer Hebrides – a queer fish she is. Father looked out this morning at a bleak outlook and said “ I am not leaving here to-day” at which remark Jim looked as if he had taken a bite out of a sour apple. Putting on his sea boots, oil skin and sou’wester however he went manfully for the rolls, 12 for us, 8 for Shamrock, arriving back in time to get his breakfast piping hot. It was only 8 o’clock and there was time yet for some improvement in the weather. Father paid a visit to the Shamrock and on coming back to the Torsa informed the crew that they were sailing; in no time our anchor was up and in much the same kind of weather we had on our arrival we chugged out of Tobermory Bay, waving a cheery farewell to the boys in the Shamrock who appeared on deck with their mouths full of morning rolls. Jim took command and with his trusty twin soul set a course down the Sound of Mull, father whose two outstanding wants have been sleep and things to allay his thirst, retired to the cabin to read but the sandman caught him and he succumbed trumpeting loudly (this is one on him as he says I snore something awful at night). Flo can do “no bad” in this line too so we don’t lack for music. Can you imagine it at night – Flo and I in the cabin harmonizing sweetly; father doing his bit in the cockpit rolled up in his fleabag.
Jim does not snore but the most mysterious noises come from his corner. Flo says we do our bit in tune but Jim puts us quite off the thread of our story.
The sail to Oban was not very pleasant, the rain continued all the way, the last stage when we left the shelter of Mull and got into the open being pretty rough. However Jim and Flo did splendid work, the course they set being very much better than the one we took going to Tobermory. Flo steered most of the way and did that well, looking the part, in fact quite Grace Darlingish. I cut rather an incongruous figure, a Sou’wester – yellow, a blue waterproof with wings and bedroom slippers. Notwithstanding appearances, I felt comfortable which after all is the main thing. We reached Oban about 3.30p.m. In sight of Oban left the tiller and went for the spuds having them ready to pop on whenever we dropped anchor. We returned to Brandystone Bay and came to anchor in exactly the same place we left on Sunday. A large yacht is moored alongside almost like a liner. We have found out from the Barrs it belongs to Lord Strathcona so tonight we are in swell company. After dinner, Jim and Flo went for supplies into Oban, Father went ashore to see Mr. Barr and I was alone, alone, alone on the deep blue sea. Flo and Jim returned exhausted. Jim had a terrible trek to the Shell Depot and Flo trekked round the shops till she was dizzy. She fascinated a poor old tramp on the way home and arrived at the Bay walking on the bones of her legs. We have not washed to-day, none of us and the Barrs have all complimented us on being so sunburned. Fried lemon sole for tea and to bed early. Flo says we will need to wash ourselves tomorrow,
We woke this morning to rain and grey skies. Jim went on shore for milk while Flo and I put beds and blankets out of sight. By this time the kettle was boiling, the ham sizzling in the pan ( a cheery sound ) and the table set. We hurried to have our breakfast over before the Shell man came with the paraffin at 8.30. As is usually the case we were just about to sit down when he arrived at the slip. Father and Jim attended to the refuelling while Flo and I had our breakfast. They were not long over that job and soon had their breakfast too. Father was inclined to spend another day in Oban but as we wanted to see as much as we could in the limited time at our disposal we decided to move on. Father got a lift into Oban in Barr’s car, got petrol and some supplies and by the time he got back the engines were going so off we chugged once more. There were glimpses of the sun “gey watery” like, a strong S.W. wind but as hope rises eternal in the human heart we hoped it might clear into a dry day, we did not want to be too exacting, a dry day would please us. Outside of the shelter of Kerrera Island we got the full force of the strong wind. I wont elaborate on the waves, mountains high they looked, Father, the master mariner, piloted us through them; we secured all things moveable and clad in our oilskins sat outside and watched the great Atlantic rollers. The “Torsa” behaved beautifully, we enjoyed the experience.
Flo had never seen such big ones and I must say here that she is a great sailor. After about 11/2 hours of this we had another element to combat – the terrible currants; in some places they were like whirl pools and made steering quite difficult. However we eventually got into the shelter of Scarba Island where Jim took the wheel and allowed father down for a rest and sleep. By this time the sun was struggling to show itself and round about 1o’c;lock was shining brightly. I was 10.30 a.m. when we left Oban. A gentleman who was introduced to Father by Mack Barr at Oban told him he intended to start also for Loch Sween, our destination, but we have not seen him so he must either have changed his mind or turned back. From Scarba Island right down the Firth of Lorne the tide runs very swiftly – it was in our favour and we romped along. We hugged the coast of Jura for Shelter and crossed over the entire Loch Sween after great searches of charts for the right way. To the ordinary person pioneering in strange waters with no knowledge of landmarks etc., it is not an easy matter to locate Lochs and Islands, but we did marvellously. Jim taking us into the Loch as to the manner born. We had a delightful cup of tea and “Rowly Powly” on getting into quiet water as we have all suffered from thirst during our voyage. This Loch, Loch Sween is a veritable fairyland, a background of tree covered hills and studded with fairylike islets. We are at anchor in a little bay surrounded with them in water like a looking glass- so calm and all the greenery of the tree covered hills reflected on its surface. The sun is shining brilliantly and is warm and everything is so peaceful and quiet that we are wondering if we dreamt about the earlier part of this extraordinary day. After dinner at 6 o’clock Jim and Flo rowed round the corner to Tayvallich which is in another little island dotted bay. They say it is a beautiful little place and they could spend a holiday there fine. Jim has bought fishing lines so we hope to have fish for breakfast. A great day this has been. There is aye something to bother folk. The man ( I retract gentleman ) whom I mentioned as coming to Loch Sween has just sailed into our bay and put down anchor almost alongside us – did we curse, I should say we did. How they (there are two of them) should come and moor so near us when there is a whole Loch with dozens of little bays like his one, is a puzzle to me. Flo did not say a bad word but Oh boy! How she glared. However after all, they did not affect us at all. We fished all night and caught nothing. I think Father was glad, not relishing a fishy breakfast – supper and to bed, not early.
We were late in rising this morning having promised ourselves a long lie, the first we have had, had breakfast and went into Tayvallich for supplies, got water and butcher meat. There is no butcher’s shop, a van calls dilly, were lucky to have met him ( the butcher is meant here) a most delightful place for a holiday. Marjory’s heart would rejoice to see it – a few scattered houses but very modern, an almost landlocked harbour with little islets and a background of hills. Two gentlemen were cruising near the boat slip in a motor boat ( small) as Jim and Flo were leaving to come aboard. Flo called out “Hallo” and waved frantically, Jim did ditto – one gent was a man in Flo’s late office and the other was Mr Clark a teacher in Bellahouston Academy. Once the crew were aboard we set off for our little bay and found our neighbours of the night before gone; we were pleased to be alone. Such a glorious day, brilliant sunshine and very warm – we had a perfectly gorgeous lazy day, did nothing at all but sunbathe. Jim did a short swim dressed in Flo’s costume – he did look swell. Flo washed and prettied herself. I don’t remember whether Father did wash or not, he never looks bad, but for me I just pigged it in no half-hearted manner. We had a late dinner but Oh Boy what a feed – soup, chops and peas, tangerines and cream, tea, biscuits and cheese, the result being we were quite unable to exert ourselves even to wash dishes or clear the table. By this time, my face was painful to behold and painful to be attached to so decided not to wash but to put soothing cream thereon. After clearing up and tidying ourselves, Jim Flo and I went in the dinghy a tour of the fairy isles, the beauty of which has to be seen to be believed. We returned to the Torsa, got out our fishing tackle and set to work. My line was first down but never a nibble did I get. Flo’s was next ready (Jim did all the work) and no sooner was it down than she caught a flounder, then another and another. I decided to go to her side of the boat and on putting down my line caught one also. Flo pulled hers up with two at once but after that there was no more. We gave up at 10 o’clock as we had to have our supper before turning in. Turning in as I said before was no small job; we have had a great day and we all look as though we had. We have discovered a great sentence, said with venom it sounds great “Bladder Wrack” – you hiss it for the full effect.
We have had occasion already to use it frequently. No accidents.
We rose early today as we have a long journey before us, had breakfast; a strange fact is that no matter how heavy a supper we partake of (politeness) we are ravenous at Breakfast time and are always glad to know our hearts have not been nibbled during our slumbers. We set off for Tayvallich to send a ‘phone call to our pilot in order that he would meeting us at the Crinan Canal. Jim also bought potatoes (we have all developed am almost uncanny appetite for potatoes) and also chocs for ladies. On the way to Tayvallich Flo in an excess of cleaning zeal threw overboard our only basin and also confided to me there was a jingle in the basin she thought. It was imaginary as the cutlery is still as it was, such as it was. The cry “basin overboard, but never mind” met with a scornful rejoinder and the good ship Torsa was put about to rescue the basin long past its best was floating majestically in mid stream, I might almost say defiantly and defied our efforts at rescue. Flo and I said “let it alone, it’s not worth rescuing.” Still that abominable basin flaunted itself within easy distance and the men folk tried again; if a basin could grin that one did it. Jim got out in the punt just not to let it get the better of us and eventually got hold of it after an exciting chase. We slammed it down on the deck and proceeded on our way having lost the best part of an hour over that wretched utensil. Our sail to Crinan was uneventful, a real good sunshiny day with a good sailing breeze carrying us on. Jim and Flo sunbathed on the upper deck, Father steered and I sat and enjoyed myself. On arrival at Crinan our pilot was there and we got going from lock to lock. Flo and I went below as on the Canal and in the locks we are the centre of sightseers. I read and Flo sewed. Overhead the activities of the men sounded terrific, bangs and bumps &c. &c. However we could hardly believe four hours had almost gone when Jim said just other two locks and we will be out. We had a refreshing cup of tea during our passage and the promise of a tightner when we got to our destination – Fearnoch Bay. Flo got on shore at the fourteenth lock and among other delicacies brought juicy steak. Father’s spirits always good took a bound up when he found himself in his native waters and at the wheel sang lustily “ Safe at last, the canal past” or something like that. We had tea and cakes (some that Flo got on shore) which tasted delicious and soon we were passing Ardlamont Point making for our wee bay hoping there would be nobody there. Our hopes were realised, the bay was ours. Down went the anchor, on went the spuds, the tin opener did its duty too and we were soon outside another royal banquet. We dined tonight at 9.30 p.m. We fished without result till midnight and retired to rest having spent a gloriously full day. Weather perfect and faces arms and necks a painful red which we hope will develop into brown.
Slept long, at last rose to another glorious day of sunshine, got going and gave Father the option of proposing the day’s programme. After breakfast light lunch about 2p.m. sail into Rothesay, high tea, shopping and pictures – all were agreeable and the programme went to schedule. What a place Rothesay is at the fair, fat maws, bowly legged paws and the weans beggar description – swarms of them, all with red faces, most of the younger ladies dressed in last winter’s evening frocks. Some had put on trousers, the look of the last made Flo wish she had on a skirt. We enjoyed every minute however and left at 9.30p.m. for our haven of rest after the hubbub of Rothesay loaded with good things to eat. What a lovely sail we had through the Kyles, the glorious sunset coloured the still water, the twinkling lights on shore and on the beacons lent a glamorous touch to the scene, romance was in the air, even Father and I, old campaigners, felt the glow. At last we reached Fearnoch and no sooner was the anchor down than the dreadful hunger again assailed us. We have come to the conclusion it is cobras.
Slept late in Fearnoch Bay and awoke to grey skies, fortunately there was no wind and there was always prospects of the sun breaking through. We had a lazy day, just pottering quite at home and at peace with the world. No boat came near us to break the seclusion of our retreat. Jim and Flo set out for a walk to Colintrive, I had a good book and Father had painting work to be done. Each of us enjoyed the day in our separate ways. We had a late dinner after which the wind rose and was blowing right into the bay Father, always anxious as to safety, thought it advisable to got to Black Farlane Bay for shelter, so we up anchored and got into the bay put down our anchor here and after putting everything snugly in order we had supper and got into bed, another motorboat came in beside us for shelter also. The wind howled a bit but we put out a kedge – all slept soundly.
Rather a funny thing happened, at least we thought it funny. I had been bitten by a cleg and when that happens the bitten place usually swells to alarming proportions. However with the aid of iodine and lint the bite was kept in order. On rising Flo and I usually give our faces a clean with a quicky. I took the piece of lint and my dirty quicky and intending to throw them out of the galley porthole I missed. “Drat it” I said, the quicky has gone down that space into the bilge, thinking no more about it. At supper tie Jim said “this tea has a peculiar flavour.” “Nonsense” we all said. “ It is a peculiarly good cup of tea” said Father “ give me another.” We all had two cups and thought it great.
Next morning the tea was good also. Flo decided to wash her hair which she had had trimmed on Saturday in Rothesay and after breakfast filled up the kettle for hot water. As she poured out the water from the kettle for her washing operation the last drops came out with a plonk caused by the lost lint and a dirty quicky which by this time was spotlessly clean – hence the fine flavour of the tea. The whistle had not been put on the kettle and the little bundle had fallen into that utensil.
The last day of the cruise and of Jim’s holiday had come. We rose early to make a long day of it. Jim rowed across to Tighnabruaich for rolls and on coming back the breakfast was ready and we all enjoyed the morning rolls. We got going and sailed through the Kyles, the water was as calm as a mill pond. On coming out of Rothesay Bay we got a good tossing on our way across the Firth but got into Millport in brilliant sunshine and picked up our moorings. Jim was decidedly glum, silent and depressed which state was communicated to all the crew, we were all sad. We bucked up a bit and got on shore. Tom Winnie and eh children were waiting at the slip for us, our cruise was over. We spend the next five days at Millport with the kids. Jim left for Glasgow at night taking with him the spirit of the cruise. Jim and Flo have been the best of cruising pals. We have been a great combination, in fact we have exactly fitted in and have been an ideal crew. This cruise has been the best I have ever had and I have enjoyed every second of it. There has not been a single jarring incident during the whole time we have been together. The Torsa has been an ideal cruiser and a perfect home afloat.
“ Ma P.”
The following poem was composed by “Ma P.” on our way back from Tobermory to Oban.
We were told how to go by the strong minded Flo
Backed up by our Commodore, Jim,
They set a good course
And stuck to it with force
Although all the coast line was dim.
To Oban we got and were thankful a lot
For the excellent seamanship shown,
If we hadn’t had them
We could not have “Keme”
To Oban but north had been blown.
She deserves the V.C. or at least a high tea
Whenever the anchor is down
After that she will go
And dress swell for her beau
And they both will go into Town.
Ma P & Pa Broon ( Piggot ? )
Here are some footnotes to the Cruise of the Torsa – provided by Arnie Piggot in August 2003.
1 The Cruise of the Torsa was during the Clyde Cruising Club race to the Outer Isles – Loch Maddy on North Uist.
2 Arnie raced in the Shamrock belonging to a certain Johny Johnston.
3 The Shamrock was a sloop of five and a half tons and had two sister yachts – Rose and Thistle. She was a slow yacht and sailed in the race which was a handicapped race.
4 The Shamrock’s engine failed on the way back from N Uist, she was becalmed and hailed a ‘puffer’ – a coal boat and general cargo boat – and got a tow round the Mull of Kintyre to Campbelltown. The tow started badly when the towing boat went too quickly and nearly dragged the yacht under.
The owner was a certain Mr Hamilton and he would not accept payment but instead bought the crew a drink in Campbelltown.
On hearing of this good turn Grandfather Piggot sent Mr Hamilton a large box of the best biscuits available.
5 The lady yachtswoman Elizabeth Todrick lived at Gareloch and worked in the McGreuer’s Yard. In her boat ‘Ayrshire Lass’ she sailed single handed – but not with her wee dog Paddy for company on this occasion – out to Loch Maddy in N Uist and the Shamrock met her on her way back to Skye from Loch Maddy. They – the Shamrock crew – thought they had done well as they approached N Uist when she appeared having beat them to it.
Elizabeth was a strong sturdy but good looking woman who didn’t need to work but did so as she liked being around boats. She worked at Adams at Fairlie.Elizabeth ( Liz ) Todrick is alive ( August 2007 ) and well and living in the Gareloch area. This information from her niece Kathryn by email recently.