Troubled Waters

Elegy for a Dead Admiral, Jack Vettriano

It was a dark and stormy night. Still, restless after two days of travel, my sleep was somewhat fitful last night. I was awoken first by the loud tap-tap-tapping of rain falling on the uninsulated roof of the sleeping porch. With its almost flat roof pitch, it makes for the perfect drum in a storm and is always markedly louder than anywhere else in the cabin. The rain’s steady staccato sound quickly lulled me back to sleep though. Until, around two o’clock, when I was again wakened, this time by the mournful call of a freighter’s foghorn. I could tell that it was a downbound boat. Its long low moan of warning could easily be tracked, even with my eyes still closed and my head resting on the pillow. Over the minutes that it took to transition by us, its disembodied call first grew louder as it approached and then gradually fainter as it receded. Just once during this interlude, we heard one short, even lower toot. Possibly the answering call of an upbound boat? Getting up to use the bathroom, we could barely see the boat, even with its running lights, all in a row from stem to stern that barely pieced the fog. Nowadays, lake boats carry, radar, GPS and comms, so the foghorn is a bit of an anachronism. It is probably still useful for warning away small pleasure craft, but how many of them are out at two AM, on a rainy night? There was some more rain towards morning and then a gradual dawn. I need a nap.

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