Document 658

Dipper: 46 - Jenny Wren's Jaunt tae Islay - May 1983 & July 1984

Author(s): Dr James A Begg

Copyright holder(s): Dr James A Begg


"Jenny Wren", our Mirror Class sailing dinghy, accompanied us on several holidays to our beloved Islay, before she was eventually banned by Helen because of the sort of weather she attracted! This poem was entered for, and won, the Templeton Trophy for the best sailing "Log" by a member of Ayr Bay Sailing Club. Considering I sail "Jenny Wren" like a log it's probably the only sailing trophy I'll ever win!

O haud yer wheesht ye mariners,
Belay yer idle chatter,
An listen tae this epic tale
O my jaunts faur ower the watter.


May 7th
Frae Kennacraig Bay on the seiventh o May
We sailed on the ebbing tide,
Wi me on the tap o the Doctor's caur
An him an the rest inside.

My big freen “Iona” had us onboard.
She works for a fella MacBrayne
An gied us a berth in her belly,
Tae keep us weel oot o the rain.

Nou sails are aaricht on occasions,
But there's times whan an engine is best,
- Like doun West Loch Tarbert an intae a win
Bearin twa degrees West o Nor-West.

Nae nonsense wi beatin an tackin,
The big yin went straucht as a bullet,
Wi niver a thocht aboot win-shifts,
Or the jib-sheet an whan ye suid pull it!

Gin we rolled aff the ship at Port Askaig,
The het sun beat doun on my keel,
Sae fierce were its rays, they near bucklt my stays,
An my backside wis stertin tae peel!

We were bidin a week at Bruichladdich,
On Lochindaal's lang western strand,
Wi a rock-strewn beach forenent the Hotel,
An a haven nearby flaired wi sand.

The Doctor an Colin were keen for a sail,
Wi the win nou a gusty Force Four,
A bit o a beast, veerin roun tae Nor-East,
Hard on tae a craggy lee shore.

But valour gied wey tae discretion,
'Twas a day for the motor - no sail,
Sae the Seagull they screwed tae my transom
An heidit oot intae the "gale".

Bow heich oot the watter, stem doun in the waves,
The puir sowls were droukit wi spray,
Still, they plowtert aboot for ten meenits or mair
Afore they durst caa it a day.

May 8th
The followin morn, the twa sailors were torn,
- Suid they lie in the sun or set sails?
It wis sic a braw day, they went doun Lossit Bay
Tae play wi their spades an their pails!

May 9th
They werenae tae ken it wad blaw a Force Ten,
An the thocht o it made them fair seik,
That ae day in the sun garrd them forfeit the fun
O a sail for the rest o the week!

For a muckle depression cam in frae the West,
Wi its centre oot by Donegal,
An Lochindaal wis gruppt, an its watters were whuppt
Intae spindrift wi every squall.

They say at the stert, on the Watherman's Chairt,
There were Isobars packit sae close,
That the spaces atween juist cuidnae be seen,
An in places they even wad cross!

Frae Monday tae Friday the Tempest did howl,
An my hull, mast an halliards did batter,
But there's nae chance at aa o bein blawn awa,
Whan ye're fou tae the gunnels wi watter!

May 14th
The rest ye maun guess, an I cuidnae care less,
On the Setterday morn it wis braw,
'Twas a terrible shame whan we had tae gae hame,
An I niver got sailin at aa!


July 10th
We set aff again in a hauf-gale an rain
On oor midsummer veesit tae Islay,
An the “Glen Sannox” rattled an pitched as it battled
Tae win throu withoot blawin its biler!

Hou the Doctor did curse as the wather got worse,
An it poort on an aff for twa days,
He wis near broken-hertit that his holiday stertit
Juist exactly the same as last May's!

July 12th
But the followin day his black tid gaed away,
Like the mist risin clear o the Paps,
As a Southerlie win made the clud cover thin
An the sun shone fou bricht throu the gaps.

'Twas blawin Force Three whan Colin an he
Rigged me up an set aff on a reach,
Then wi terrible gybin that beggars describin,
We fetched up on Indaal's north beach.

Wi the win blawin fair, it wis juist like at Ayr,
- Onshore breezes an miles o sand,
Aa that gybin an tackin, jibs'l fillin an backin,
- Whit a tonic - Oh my, it wis grand!

Whan efter a-wee, it wis time for their tea,
Wi the win blawin straucht up the loch,
We gaed hame kinda regal, wi wee Sanny Seagull
Fair beltin ower wave an throu trough.

July 13th
Whan they saw throu the lifeboat the followin day
An heard its remarkable story,
They werenae tae ken that their ain Jenny Wren
Very shuin wad be sharin that glory.

July 14th
For the very next nicht, there wis somethin no richt
Wi a wee white boat lyin aff-shore,
Sae Fiona an Sue, wha made up the crew,
An the Doctor, went oot tae explore.

The Doctor hailed loud tae auld Ruary MacLeod,
(He wis feart the auld fella wis fou!)
'Are you feeling all right? You could lie here all night!'
He replied - 'I've a rope round my screw!'

We'd give you a hand to get back to land,
But I think Jenny Wren is too wee.
- Sae hame I did skelp tae summon up help
Frae a boat that wis bigger nor me!

Sae it nou can be said that I've been tae the aid
O a mariner in distress;
Wi a wee bit o luck, the report o my pluck
Micht be read in the National Press!

The Doc bein a Byllie will hope that it's no,
An that I am willin tae bet,
- For it wisnae a rope that wis caught roun his screw,
But the end o a Poacher's net!

July 16th
Whan the Doc heard the tale o the stranded Sperm Whale,
He tuik Colin an Gary tae luik
At the puir muckle beast, that measured at least
Fifty feet frae its heid tae its fluke.

Washed ashore by the tide, it lay on its side
Amang rocks that were slairit wi ile,
Frae the smell o its flesh it wisnae that fresh,
Sae the lads didnae tarry awhile!

Tho tired frae their walk, they cam back fou o talk
O the adder, the eagle, the whale,
An tae gie them their due, were still willin tae crew
Whan the Doc tuik me oot for a sail.

July 18th
There wis nae wey o tellin that doun at Port Ellen
The sun had been shinin aa day,
Whan they left me alane in the dreich drizzly rain,
Wi a haar richt doun ower the bay.

By aa the reports they had fun at the sports
Watchin Ileachs bein put throu their paces,
As they puffed an they pecht at tossin the wecht,
Heilin dancin, an three-leggit races!

Still, efter their tare, it wis only juist fair
That they'd pey some attention tae me,
The Doc swithert wi dout - suid he daur tak me oot
In an aff-shore win gustin Force Three.

Hou my riggin did sing wi that final wee fling
As he tacked aff the harbour's mou;
Then cam in under sail, an for yince didnae fail
Tae bring us aa safely throu.

July 19th
It's nou back tae the ship at the end o a trip
I'm shuir that I'll niver forget,
An I'm even nou thinkin, if he keeps me frae sinkin,
That the Doc micht a sailor mak yet!

Sae for Colin the Crew, an weel - you know who,
Wha cannae sail Mirrors for toaffee,
This Log they submit as their only chance yet
O winnin a Sailin Club Trophy!

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APA Style:

Dipper: 46 - Jenny Wren's Jaunt tae Islay - May 1983 & July 1984. 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 20 July 2024, from

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The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 658

Dipper: 46 - Jenny Wren's Jaunt tae Islay - May 1983 & July 1984


Text audience

General public
Audience size 1000+

Text details

Method of composition Handwritten
Year of composition 1984
Word count 1340
General description Anthology of prizewinning and other Scots poems, and short stories in Ayrshire Scots.

Text medium

Other Audiocassette

Text publication details

Publisher Luath Press
Publication year 1991
Place of publication Barr, Ayrshire
ISBN/ISSN 0946487227
Edition First
Part of larger text
Contained in The Dipper an the Three Wee Deils: Tales and Poems in Ayrshire Scots
Editor Authors: Dr. J. A. Begg and J. Reid
Page numbers 115-120

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 623
Title Dr
Forenames James
Initials A
Surname Begg
Gender Male
Decade of birth 1940
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Upbringing/religious beliefs Protestantism
Occupation Medical Practitioner
Place of birth New Cumnock
Region of birth S Ayr
Birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Ayr
Region of residence S Ayr
Residence CSD dialect area Ayr
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Clerical Officer, NCB
Father's place of birth Sandbank
Father's region of birth Argyll
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Arg
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Primary Teacher
Mother's place of birth New Cumnock
Mother's region of birth S Ayr
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Ayr
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
Danish No No No No A little
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work
French Yes Yes Yes Yes Holidaying in France
Norwegian No No No No A little
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Home, socially, at work