From the passenger seat of this rented Opal, I watch seagulls contend for strings of seaweed and scraps of bait tossed overboard from a passing fishing vessel, the only one to enter Reen Harbour this Sunday morning.
Two dozen small ships are anchored here, in the neck of this natural safe haven. Some old, rusty buckets that have seen many storms; some new, clearly more for sport and weekend fun than generating income.
Michael, the principal guide of yesterday’s kayaking tour directed my attention to an otherwise elusive, black hulled, single mast sailing boat which is, he shared, simply gorgeous on the inside. The owner purchased the hull in another country and had it towed here, to Castletownshend, Ireland for an overhaul. A master craftsman, he has meticulously refurbished the interior to a degree that was best expressed by Michael as a whistle rather than words.
It is the owner’s intend to sail to Iceland, but recent poor weather has kept him here for a few weeks more. I was shocked to learn of this intent, for the boat appears quite small, with a square stern and equally vertical bow, it does now appear to the layman’s eyes the kind of ship one would take into then open, northern seas.
I slept here last night, in this rental car, after my second guided paddle for the day. Michael, his partner Caroline, and Patrick are passionate about their line of work, as they take customers onto the water two times a day, five, six, sometimes seven days a week. They carefully interweave the experience of exploring this harbour by kayak with history, biology, and a lesson in mindfulness training.
Michael suggests that we let go of all that we brought with us. In a tag-team fashion, Michael continues, “find your child’s imagination again,” for in that place lie the ghosts of history come alive in the silhouettes on-shore and the unknown treasures in the depths below.
We paddled through pockets of brilliant bioluminescence, pockets of phytoplankton that have by day stored the sun’s energy in order to release it again at night. Caroline shared that some 90 percent of the ocean’s lifeforms are able to produce visible light. The reasons for this communication are not yet fully understood.
The wake of a kayak, the twist of a paddle, even the flick of fingertips across the surface of the water invokes a magical light show. Michael snatched a net of seaweed and demonstrated how one could invoke a cacophony of illumination, hundreds of points of light popping on and off again.
We returned to shore just after midnight, but I was reluctant to exit my boat. I could have remained adrift ’till sunrise, content to watch, to listen, to take innumerable more deep breaths. The chilled, salty air of the coastal Irish night drew me into the comfort of my borrowed comforter which this morning continued to hold me tight.
The windscreen is littered with raindrops from the most recent ladened clouds. I have rolled the side windows up and down a few times already in concert with the passing clouds. The sun has shone but for a few minutes, only to retreat again to its own safe haven, a harbour for a celestial body relatively unknown in this land.