Sunlight danced on the grey-green water, making Sam squint as he put the tiller over. Ahead was the little cove, the gleaming hulk of Stag Rock just off centre with waves foaming about its weedy, limpet studded foot. As he guided Heartsease between the high chalk cliffs, they caught the stutter of the motor and redoubled it into an echoing clamour. Sam cut the engine to coast in on the next wave. The keel crunched into shingle as he went over the side, calf deep, to urge the dinghy farther up the beach. His back twinged as he straightened up. Sam Yelf with his Heartsease had been working the coast of Wight, from Freshwater to the Needles, for over fifty years, so he had earned a twinge or two. Lobsters, that was the game. Sam could remember the old willow pots, but Heartsease was laden with modern ones – metal and net with plastic floats rather than the traditional glass ones. Ugly, but they did the job.
A catspaw of wind ruffled the fringe of hair around his bald patch as he walked up the beach to the usual rock. He folded his Guernsey to sit on and opened his lunchbox. In it was the little digital radio the grandkids had given him for Christmas. He tuned it into IOW Radio’s weather forecast, before picking up a sandwich. The weatherman’s voice fell flat on the warm air then the next song started. Sam grunted and turned the radio up.
“Well, I’ll be …” he mumbled as the music of his youth filled the little bay. A song about sunshine and belonging and doing it with style. He had known all the words once but now he remembered other things far more clearly.
Sam put out a hand to lay it on the warm chalk, remembering a time when the hair on his knuckles had been black, not white.