The Pipe Smoker

09 November 2020 | Haunted houses, Your Stories, Your True Encounters

Just completed a sail from USA to Scotland. I visited many harbors and inlets around this gorgeous country. I was actually able to meet ancestors of my family clan “Fraser”. I have a strong family background in sailing. which basically began in Scotland and England.

One night, I had anchored off a small community named Portree. A beautiful seaport. I spent three nights on the hook and went in town with my dingy. I spent time walking the entire town taking in all the history and folklore. Incredible history and stories told by the locals. I have a 40 foot wooden Ketch, which was built in the USA around the early 1900″s and has thousands of miles of sea time on her hull. I woke up on the third morning and about to make coffee and prepare some breakfast, when I smelt this strong smell of pipe smoke. I thought maybe someone had boarded or maybe tied along side. I went up on the deck, there was no one in sight. I could not see any movement on the shoreline. As I was standing there on deck, the pipe smell went away. Thought this a bit strange, but basically forgot about it.

Around four in the afternoon, I was getting the deck ready to pull anchor and sail north out of Portree. I fired up the onboard engine (which was added thirty years prior to this adventure), and started to walk towards the bow and winch up the anchor. As I approached the bow, I could smell the pipe smell again, it was like it was blowing around my head. It actually scared me a bit, there was absolutely no person around me. I looked down at the bowsprit to start the long process of cranking the anchor up, when I saw the anchor was already up and secured to its roller and tied off. The hair on my arm was standing straight up. I now had to run back to the engine controls and maneuver my boat because I was now free and moving. In the surprise of this, I had just realized the pipe smell was gone.

I had an uneventful departure from that point on. I made my slow sail up to Lochinver and was able to dock at a public dock. I had friends meet me and bring me some provisions they had promised. We were standing next to my friends car parked just off the dock but a good distance away when my friend asked me who was my mate why did he not debark with me? I told them I had no mate with me, I was still sailing solo. He and his girlfriend said they saw an old man on deck looking our way and he was smoking a pipe. We all moved fast back to my boat and I remember my heart was pounding thinking someone had boarded my boat. We jumped onboard and I rushed down below in the thick smell of pipe smoke and I could not find anyone onboard. My friend kind of laughed and said, at least he has good taste in tobacco. I asked him what he meant by that. He said the smell is that of Condor, a very popular pipe tobacco in England. His dad smoked that brand, so he knew the smell.

We left for a short time to get dinner, and I found myself anxious and slightly nervous about returning. I asked my friend to come onboard with me to open the boat back up, not telling him I just wanted someone else there with me. I left the next day, My two friends came and waived me off, and did manage to poke a little fun at me by giving me a package of Condor mild. Knowing darn well I do not smoke anymore, let alone own a pipe. I tucked the package away below deck. Many weeks later I was sailing west back to the US making a passage to Nova Scotia. I ran into a really nasty storm. I was being over whelmed by the storm, trying to do everything I could to keep the boat upright and not destroy my boat. It became almost unbearable, I was doing everything I had learned and been taught to sail her, but I could feel I was not winning this battle. I started getting my emergency gear ready to deploy just in case. While crawling to the main mast area where my emergency raft was stowed, a wave came over the starboard rail and slammed me down on the deck, It had knocked the wind out of me and I felt panic over take me. As I was gasping for breath, the smell of the pipe came right to my face. I was able to breath again and pulled myself by the lifeline I had set up earlier that day. I made it back into the cockpit and I saw the lines being pulled and others released, like I was on autopilot. I was at the helm steering and watching a mate steady at the lines making constant adjustments.. The rain was stinging at my face and I tried so hard to see him, but I could not see his face. Only a long dark coat, drenched as much as I was. This went on for another hour, I was froze to the helm, afraid to leave. The mate worked these lines like magic. And I watched his every move for what seemed to be hours. I noticed he braced himself way before I actually felt the wave against the rails, so I learned to do the same whenever he braced himself. I was learning from him.

Things were getting more manageable and I heard the VHF radio cracking down below, I jumped to the companionway door and ran down the steps and grabbed the portable radio and back to the helm, I remember holding on to the radio so hard, I thought I might smash it in my grip. I looked up through the wind blowing rain to see what my mate was doing. I lost him. He was not there. The lines were secure and tight. My boat was tracking on a strong heel, but she was stable. I sailed out of this storm and into a moon lit sky with puffy clouds all around me. The wind was there still, but the waves had flattened out a lot. I arrived at my destination and anchored by myself. I found myself still looking for my mate. I went down below to make a pot of coffee and start cleaning up the total mess in the cabins caused by the stormy ride. Sitting on top of my navigation/chart table was the bag of Condor pipe tobacco. It had been opened and a small amount of loose tobacco was on the table top.

What a small award my mate got for not only being there with me during such a horrible ordeal but possibly saved my life as well. I am convinced he knew what was about to happen on my voyage. I still have the bag of Tobacco. I will keep it on my boat for as long as I can sail her. It’s there for him anytime he wants it.

 

Submitted by Lawrence Smith

© 2020, G. Michael Vasey & My Haunted Life Too.com (Unless indicated otherwise by author’s own copyright above). All rights reserved.

Submit Your Ghost Story

Story Title (required)

Story (required)

Photo or Video URL

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Do you give permission to publish this story?

Leave a Reply