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  • That year Dickie got a new radar unit installed aboard the Deborah Jayne. He'd switch it on for the runs out and back in the dark. He'd always step out from the shelter to mark the mid-channel buoy as he lined up to come in under the light house. Just to make sure it was really there and not some random speck on the screen. Running in the dark he always kept one hand on the spotlight scouting the waves.

    Thing of it is, he'd say, days when the wind's up and you want to get home you can't open her up and on days when you can open her up, why there's no hurry to get home.

    On those few calm evenings after we stopped in the lee of the little island to scrub her down before the last 11 miles of open water between us and home, he'd shut her down to unhook the belts. I was always nervous in all that silence and her oddly purposeless rocking. The big Cummins diesel stunk when the wind blew the exhaust back in on us and Dickie wore earplugs all day. I just pulled my watch cap down tight around my ears and stayed outside as long as I could stand it. That sudden quiet was unnatural. It made me remember.

    He was always quick to switch her on again. Back cradled by that throbbing beat, he look over quick at me and smile and I know he felt the same relief as me.

    But all he said was, No sense using that fuel for nothing.

    We'd roll homeward, him polishing the gleaming instrument panel one more time, me leaning against the bulkhead, lost in thought. He'd give me the wheel as we came up under the lighthouse, duck below and comeback with a couple of mugs of Canadian Club and Coke and we'd grin like fuckin fools with the sheer joy of being home.
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