Dennis O'Carroll
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Dennis O'Carroll - Moray Sea School, Burghead Scotland, 1973

May 73
Not one year out of school and already on my 4th employer, I was a trainee something or other in computer services at Eastern Gas in Enfield, North London. Unsettled to put it mildly, my supervisor suggests OB might be good. Only two sponsored places per year, but why not apply?

I got lucky.

20 hours from Kings Cross to Elgin.
16 years old - first trip on my own.

Moray Sea School late in the evening.
Shackleton Watch. Instructor John McIntyre?
Cold showers
Obstacle course

Porridge with salt and marmalade.
Running and running.
Climbing, Sailing
Abseiling and Hiking
A few four thousands and other wee hills.

Cliff tops and rocks.
Beautiful beaches.
Baking hot sunshine.
Drizzling rain.
Mist in the mornings.
Sunshine again and again and again.

A night on my own in the dunes near a beach, near a forest.
Making a shelter and cooking for one.

Rowing the cutter, or trimming her sails.
Expedition got rough,
caught in a storm,
mountainous sea,
jib ripped from its eyelets, held it by hand.
14 boys in a boat,
10 of them sick.
Blown from our course.
We land in Balintor.
Never doubted we would be.

Roused from the dorm after lights out. Out to the mountain, boy with broken limb, we bring him down the hill on a one wheeled stretcher.
We load him up and head for the hospital.
Us kids in the back on benches.
Him on the floor between us.
Our truck runs off the road, no harm done.

Learn Lifesaving in the posh school swimming pool.
Teach Swimming in mental institution

Sea surfing in canoes.

Nights in the dorm or out under canvas. South African, Austrian, Glaswegians, Aberdeen, Londoner me, squaddies, bad boys, tough guys and townies, office boys, quiet kids, dark horses and secrets. All shared and respected, no one rejected.
I say OB
Gave me, to me.

I left Eastern Gas, in August or September 73 - and thanks to lessons learned in Scotland, I have been able to do more or less what I like ever since.