A Cautionary Tale

July 2017 - Ian Gartside.

 

Tom Postlethwaite was a member of our club in the 1970’s. Known as “Poss” to his friends, of whom there were many, he was the owner of a 20 foot Vivacity named “Viva” which he and his teenage son John would sail to Piel Island and the Isle of Man often lagging behind the rest of the B&FYC stalwarts but arriving safely nonetheless with a huge grin on his face and in time for a last pint at the Mitre Hotel in Ramsey.

His voyages, in common with most of us, had their fair share of interesting moments which became the stuff of legend and oft recounted stories told by his shipmates carousing in the dockside pubs around the Irish Sea.

By chance I found this poem written by one of those shipmates, John Spencer, about an encounter with the “Bison” which in those days ploughed its business along with the “Buffalo” between Larne in Northern Ireland and the newly built Ro-Ro berth at Fleetwood. Although neither are with us now, I am sure they will forgive me for letting this particular cat out of the bag.

 

Returning from the raging main

To friendly native shores again

His nature said “Now Jolly Tar

Methinks it’s time we had a jar”!

 

And so without further thinking

Made her fast and went off drinking

Not knowing that quite close behind

Was brewing a jar of a different kind!

 

Big ship’s Captains are seldom petty

And get annoyed when to their jetty

You tie your craft and, with a cheer,

Speed shoreward then is search of beer!

 

Our carousing Skipper, who ought to know

The habits of Bison and Buffalo,

On board was nowhere to be found

Nearly causing Bison to run aground.

 

To cries from the bridge midst much confusion

Someone yelled “I think he’s in the Euston”!

The ale he consumed in that short time

Cost this skipper a five pound fine.

 

Back on board he used swift action

And applying ten horse of forward traction

To hearty curses of “Damn and Blast!”

Sailed under the jetty and snapped his mast!

 

The moral that follows is fairly true

And could well apply to me and you:

If you wish to avoid such trials and fines

Don’t park on Nautical Yellow Lines!

 

© J. R. Spencer  1979

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