Andy Bryce and I kept in touch over the years.
Of course, when he had commissioned the building of The Aegre he had never imagined she would sail the Atlantic and much of the Pacific.
But she had the heritage of a Shetland boat, fined down over centuries to serve in the stormy waters of the North Sea between Shetland and Norway. Andy Bryce makes light of her early sailing adventures across the Pentland Firth and around the southern isles of Orkney, where there’s merely a gale blowing on a good day. Sure he read the weather carefully, but these aren’t sailing waters for the fearful or a poorly found boat.
In July 2005 I was back in northern Scotland and met with Andy and Elizabeth in a pub just by the little Scrabster harbour, up on the north Caithness coast where it had all begun 33 years before. The small yachts moored below the harbour wall looked just as they had all those years ago, but now there was no little Shetland boat gently rocking, her varnished topsides glinting in the sun as if to say ‘Come sail me’. Over a pint, Andy promised to write the story of The Aegre’s early years, ‘for the book’,
Andy had assiduously followed the adventures of The Aegre, and in late 2005 he and Elizabeth took a passage on a cargo ship that broadly followed the course of The Aegre across the Atlantic, and Pacific, even to Tahiti and Samoa where our voyage concluded. I imagined him standing on deck looking out to the horizon, mid-ocean, wondering what it must have been like out here alone on his little Aegre.
In December 2005 their ship reached Melburne, and we had a grand get-together, and he delivered to me his story of The Aegre’s early years that I’ve reproduced above. Sadly, ‘the book’ wasn’t written then for me to give him a copy. A pity; I think he’d have loved it. But his memory lives on. A fine sailor.
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