Where’s it gone?

By Rickety Skit

The more observant residents of Strachur will have noticed that the much-celebrated and used pontoon has, well, gone.  It just isn’t there.  Ian Arnold, secretary of the association, said “It wisnae me!”  When pressed, he confessed that he had been on the Redbay Rib owned by Martin Ashall which was observed dragging the pontoon off its anchor block and towing it up the loch, after a rather hesitant start when the pontoon definitely went down the loch.  Alan Clark’s rib, with Richard Scott on board, was observed assisting, although at times Alan seemed to be trying to pull the other way.  Was this an attempt to thwart the dastardly thieves?

When asked Alan said “Not really, it just wouldn’t go the way we wanted, so we tried pulling a different way and hey presto, it started going the right way.  So we did that some more.  Then it turned out that if we just left it alone it would go the way we wanted it to.”

A spokesman for HM Coastguard said “We did get a call from a concerned member of the public who told us that four crazy old guys were stealing a pontoon and that someone should do something about it.  But we decided this was obviously a crank call as nobody would be so stupid as to steal a pontoon, would they……?”

Our intrepid reporter, determined to find out what was going on, spoke to secretary Ian Arnold again.  “What were you all up to?” he asked.  “Ah dinnae ken” said Arnold, shiftily.  Realising that by going up the Loch, there were only so many places to hide a pontoon, our reporter drove North, asking anyone who would give him the time of day if they had seen a pontoon.  But nobody did give him the time of day.  Eventually, just as he was running out of loch, he saw this:

The pontoon, high and dry at Cairndow.

What were the gang up to?  What use is a pontoon in the middle of a field?  A local civil engineering contractor, Neil McKechnie, was at the scene in his tractor.  Our reporter asked him “Do you know anything about this pontoon being here?”  Neil replied “Absolutely not.  And I want to be very clear –  I had nothing to do with this and I did not use my tractor to drag the pontoon into the field.”  “Methinks he doth protest too much” mused our reporter.  “Didn’t think you could pull a pontoon with a tractor.  But now he’s put the idea in my head……..”

There was nothing more to be done at Cairndow, so our reporter high-tailed it back to Strachur to seek out Ian Arnold who was clearly the ringleader.  Under intense interrogation (aided by a pint of Deuchars and a wee nip) Arnold confessed.  “OK, OK I admit it.  We were going to break up the pontoon and recycle the plastic to make coat-hangers and vending machine cups.  There’s a good market for that stuff you know.

But I’ll tell you what – we’ll give the pontoon an overhaul AND we’ll add a new bit.  Like a new “Hammerhead”.  That’ll make it even better.  And we’ll put it back where it was.  Just don’t tell anyone about this!”

“Hmm….” our reporter thought.

The repaired and improved pontoon will be back in service for spring 2016 with the addition of a hammerhead as shown in the drawing below.

With thanks for photos to Argyllshire Advertiser and Ian Arnold

Thanks to Martin Ashall and Alan Clark for use of their ribs (allegedly).

Thanks to Neil McKechnie for use of his tractor and his hard work (allegedly).

Thanks to The Scottish Salmon Company for the use of their land while repairs are carried out.

Thanks to divers Hector Miller, Steve McLaughlin and Clare Brathmere and to Tom Hill for surveying and the preparatory work to disconnect the anchors

Thanks to Gerry Burke who personally ate all of the mussels growing underneath the pontoon.

Thanks (in anticipation) to Fusion Marine who will carry out the repairs and add the hammerhead.