Her skeleton lay unceremoniously on the beach.
Her bare bones, rotted to the core, were casually dumped in her final resting place. I gazed at her and wondered about her story; the seas she had sailed, the storms she had fought, the passengers she had carried, the life she had led. Until finally she was left, forgotten, to decay on the sand. There was something about her, lying alone, the water lapping gently around her. She was hauntingly beautiful, as though completely out of place, yet in the very home she was built to belong in.
To us, boats go hand in hand with the ocean, yet from a natural point of view, they don’t belong.
She was made of wood. Possibly oak, it was too hard to tell, her former glory now a distant memory. Her decomposed panels barely clung to each other, desperately holding on, keeping her together. Just. The hull, now non-existent, was just a bed of sand. Her port side, merely vertical planks which jutted into the sky. Minute flakes of white paint still visible on what was left and I considered them; in all the time she had lain there, what chemicals had she seeped into the ocean? What serious damage she had unintentionally done?
I ran my fingers across what was once her bow. The wood, now soft, crumbled lightly under my touch. I bent down, looking closer at her, and noticed, in her crevices, she was not as bleak as on first suspicion….
Barnacles were encrusted in small patches where flat, undamaged wood remained; tiny, rough mounds, sharp to the touch. Some were closed tightly, others now just empty spaces. Amongst the small white blotches, limpets also clung on. Tiny radula marks in wayward, erratic lines across the wood, revealing their short journeys, undertaken when no one was watching. Kelp fronds had moved in on top of them, anchoring themselves to the conical curved tops. I imagined the plants, rising with the tide then engulfed by water, fluttering in the current like torn flags on a ghostly pirate ship.
Ragged clumps of sea weed hung between the gaps where her stern once was. I pushed a section aside, loosening some salt water which trickled down my fingers. A louse, disturbed by my sudden intrusion, flitted wildly, in random directions, succeeding in its aim to confuse its ‘attacker’. Empty mussels adorned her sides. Their inhabitants had long gone, leaving the shells open like butterflies heating their wings in the sun, delicately painted by mother nature in hues of opalescent blue and white. Glistening alien blobs hid in dark, damp crevices of her wood, lying in wait for the water to rise again, when they could unfurl their tentacles and once again bloom beneath the waves.
I noticed a crab hiding in the shadows and bent towards it. It’s claws, tentatively open, hovered near its face as though waiting to go 6 rounds with an invisible opponent. Two pinpricks, sat atop conical tubes, swivelled erratically, nerves causing it to be wary of everything. It took a few steps back, further into the shadows, and I realised I was the source of its fear.
I had overstayed my welcome.
I stood up and cast my eye over the vessel in full. The boat, which from a distance had appeared a sparse, empty shell, had been brimming with life up close. A tiny world, barely noticeable to the untrained eye.
I continued my walk along the beach again; hands stuffed into pockets, face towards the bitter wind and watched as the waves rolled along each other before they burst like white fireworks and flitted away.
I took one more glance back at her as I walked. She looked so different now. Not lonely, not sad. She had new purpose.
Man may have given her up to the sea, but nature had given her life again.