November 10th, 2020
Connie CrabberA child’s TV show about a young fishing ship living in the channel outside Padstow Harbour.Ricky the Rowboat is paddling by the harbour wall, enjoying the morning sun and watching the seagulls lounge on the sand bar, where they nose around in the earth, rummaging for the fruits of low tide. A pootling engine sound comes from round the corner and Connie the Crabber, our young hero, emerges, yawing and stretching like only a boat can. Connie Morning, Ricky! Ricky Alright Connie, up for the morning trawl are ya? Connie Not today, Ricky, with the tide the way it is. Ricky sighs. They have been getting lower every day. Ricky What are they going to about these low tides eh? Connie I don’t know, Ricky, they’ve been getting lower and lower every day. Ricky Every six hours, twelve minutes and thirty seconds you mean! Connie Oh Ricky, you silly rowboat. That would be both low and high tide, and twice over! The whole cycle takes twenty four hours and fifty minutes, because the moon orbits the earth around the same axis it spins. They laugh, like friends, even though Ricky feels like Connie was a bit pernickety there about the tides, he’d only tried to make a wee joke. Another engine sound makes the two best chums turn and to their surprise they find a stressed Tina the Trawler speeding towards a large sand bank. Connie Tina, watch out! But her warning is too late. Ricky Tina, no! But his cry is for nought. Connie Tina, the sand! Tina AAAaaarrrrgggghhhhhhhhh! Tina’s rudder clunks to the starboard as sand swamps her propeller blades, causing her to veer violently to the side, sending her bow up into the air, her stern dipping wildly into the water. Connie Not another one! Quick, Ricky, give me a shove. Ricky pushes round Connie’s bow and the Crabber angle(r)s herself towards the flailing trawler. Connie sets off with a spluttering blast sending spray right into Ricky’s face. Ricky Blimey mate, watch out! Connie (over her shoulder as he speeds way) What was that? Ricky You just— I got a bit splashed there. Connie Ricky I can’t hear you over the sound of my engine! Ricky Never mind… Connie Hang on Ricky, I’ll be back in a moment! Tina is reeling from her crash, but it seems like the sand may have cleared a bit from the propeller blades, she’s swaying and tottering, her eyes going round in loopy circles. Connie Tina, are you alright? Tina Ooooh Connie Oooooo. Connie Come over here back into the channel, you’ve run aground. Tina Ooooooo nooooo Connie. Connie Whatever will we do about these low low tides, our deep hulled sea-going vessels just can’t handle the new sandbanks. Tina Oh Connie it’s awful! Connie How are the other Trawlers? Tina Oooooh it’s a terrible time in the Trawler household. Tim Trawler paces up and down all day, Old Tabby Trawler just goes on and on about the way things used to be. Little Teddy Trawler can’t get out to play with his friends in the harbour and Tom Trawler, well you know how his rust gets in the winter months. Connie If there’s anything I can do— Tina No, no, Connie, you’ve helped our family enough. Why, it seems any time there’s some sort of trouble in this town you’re there in a flash to lend a hand, get the place back ship shape. In fact, rarely a day goes by that I don’t see you a wee Ricky Rowboat out on the river looking for a Fisher in a frenzy, or a suffering Seiner, or a Longliner with a long line of troubles to be aided with. Connie Just doing my humble best, Tina. Ricky Rowboat has caught up with the others, he’s out of breath and his back aches. Tina Oh hello Ricky. Ricky Hi Tina, are you alright? Tina Oh I’m fine love, just took that hairpin bend a little fast and went straight into the bank. Ricky These low low tides are getting quite ridiculous. Connie If only someone could help clear out all this sand, that way the deep hulled vessels would still be able to get in and out of the channel. Ricky Clear out the sand? That’s impossible. The only tools at our disposal are nets and rods, not ideal equipment for sand disposal. Connie I guess you’re right, Ricky. Tina Well, there is one who might help… Ricky Really? Tina Really, Ricky. Connie Who? Tina Well he doesn’t take well to visitors, but if you make you’re way upriver towards the old shipping bridge dock you might find someone who can help us. Ricky looks terrified. Ricky The—The—The— Tina The old shipping bridge dock, yes. Ricky You mean—You—Mean— Tina I’m afraid that’s the only place someone like Diego Dredger is welcome these days. Ricky Diego Dredger?!! Tina That’s right Ricky. Ricky faints. Connie If Diego Dredger can help us, and he’s at the old shipping bridge dock, that’s where we’ll have to go. Tina I admire your resolve, Connie Crabber, and your can-do attitude. Connie Thanks, Tina! Connie starts heading upstream, towing a dazed Ricky alongside her. Tina I only hope it’ll be enough. Our heroes are making their merry way along the river, the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting, and the cows moo softly between mouthfuls of delicious grass-green grass. It seems for all the world like another perfect day in that sweet countryside paradise, but as they round the next big bend suddenly everything starts to change. The air stifles, the birdsong dies away, all around the hillside is tinged with a darkening aura of decay. A thick mist begins to roll through the air as, looming up ahead appears the shadow of the old shipping bridge dock. Ricky I don’t like this, Conor, maybe we should go back? Connie I’m going inside Ricky, the future of the harbour is at stake.
©2007-2021 Benedict Esdale