The Lantern

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The Old Ship's Lantern The Old Ship's Lantern

A short tale submitted by forum member "r kid" about his days spent at sea as a submariner and the capture of a record beating salmon with a twist in its tail!

Many years ago , during the cold war in the north Atlantic, I was a very young submariner aboard his Majesty's Submarine “Alliance” I was a mere boy, a Sprog, under age to draw my grog at the time, nevertheless there I was, along with 64 other crew members five weeks into a north Atlantic six week patrol seeking out and plotting or maybe avoiding! Russian shipping movements.

We hadn’t seen daylight for all that time and we were unwashed, filthy, stinking in our own sweat, toes stuck together with grime, unshaven and matted hair, teeth that hadn’t seen a brush for five weeks, our body odours mingling in as one because of hot bunking, the stench masking the diesel fumes, drenched in icy condensation, our privates itching from the huge amount of AL crab powder we were doused with but we were united and moral was at it’s normal high, as it should be amongst highly trained and dedicated men of the Royal Navy boat service.

Our victuals were low, what remained of our vegetables was a mass of yellowish slime, green mould was in abundance on the last few bits of bread, the last of the meat was rancid to say the least, all but out of water and still a full week to the end of our patrol, we’re now living out of tins, that was when I had an idea of catching some fresh fish, anything that tasted remotely like food! Being a fly fisherman of some standing I had in my sea kit some fur, feather and tinsel, I suggested to my Captain that I should try and catch a fish, with a very large grin he agreed and permission was granted.

I tied some red Ibis and Pheasant tail on to the largest hook that I had in my kit, probably a size 6, and trimmed it off with a Partridge hackle and attached this contraption to the end of 30 yards of 30 lb monofilament with a 10 lb tippet. Came the evening and we closed up to diving stations in readiness to surface, normal routine during the hours of darkness. Permission was granted by my Captain for me to go onto the casing to cast my lure and so I proceeded aft along the after casing and dangled my line over the stern, hopefully it would stream out and follow in our wake when we dived again at dawn! Maybe, only maybe, some unsuspecting fish would get inquisitive and grab my lashed up fly.

The following day passed as normal, but my mind and thoughts were travelling 30 yards astern in our wake with that beautiful red Ibis and Pheasant tail wobbling along at 3 knots. I could virtually taste succulent fish steaks baked to perfection, it gave me a funny feeling in my water. On surfacing that evening at dusk, I didn’t have to ask permission to go onto the casing, my Captain suggested it himself. I literally flew up the conning tower ladders and on to the deck, back aft , with great care but excitement. As soon as I started to pull in my line I knew that something big, very big was on the end of it. Being a fly fisherman, as I have indicated earlier, I brought it in with great care, to lose it at this stage would be disastrous to say the least, no second chance as on a river with rod and line.

I lifted this very heavy load out of the water and on to the casing, not knowing at this stage what the hell it was, remember it’s night at sea and it’s bloody dark. I wrestled back to the bridge with my prize and lowered it down through the conning tower hatch to our awaiting chef, we all gloated and stared at this beautiful salmon, it made Miss Ballentine’s record 62 pounder look like a Tadpole. Of course I couldn’t claim the record because it wasn’t a rod and line caught fish, but she was a beauty, it must have been 70 odd pound.

Into the galley and the chef got to work steaking and baking. Now the most unbelievable thing, we found in it’s gut a large, hard object. After close investigation and chipping off all the barnacles (it took some time and most of the crew had a go, chipping and scraping,) we finally got to see just what it could possibly be. Our 1st Lt, being somewhat knowledgeable in these matters recognised it as an old ship’s lantern of some 500 years past, incredible!! I took over then, after all, I caught the darn thing, so I had to have my go. After some close inspection I found the little door where one opens it to light the wick, when I opened the little door there was a candle inside, nothing unusual about that, I hear you say, but the bloody candle was still alight!

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Adventure, hydro-electric

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