Friday, 12 September 2008
Life on the Ocean Wave – Part 4
There is something very cosy about the cabin on a yacht, especially the fore cabin where we were tucked up. Curling into the nose of the boat, a little skylight above you, loads of well-designed cupboards and cubby holes in which to put your stuff (too much in my case, of course), all in shiny wood and with natty little metal push button catches; all so carefully thought out for life on the ocean wave. We were mercifully next to the Head (boaty speak for loo), too, so night time needs were easily met without crashing through the cabin and worrying about waking others up as you pumped furiously and noisily to keep things flushed and ship-shape.
Breakfasts were a pleasure too. Keith would lay out what was available (cereal, toast, jam) and we’d help ourselves and eat wherever took our fancy, inside or out. As the sun was shining on Smir, I decided to potter out into the cockpit to eat and sip my coffee. Coming from the rain-soaked High Peak, every minute of UV light is essential to my very well-being, mental and physical. Thus I was greatly looking forward to the R&R promised after a morning of harbour exercises and lunch. I was heading for the beach. I searched through my enormous pile of clothes for bikini and Boden (naturally) kaftan, grabbed a towel and hopped off expectantly. For good measure, I took my RYA handbook to swot up on lights and buoys ahead of our night sail, where I knew we were to be tested. The beach looked enticing and there were a number of groups of young locals frolicking on the sands. We chose a nice looking spot, away from the hubbub, and laid down our towels. With that the sun went behind the only cloud in the sky. And stayed there for the whole two hours we had to relax. I’ve yet to understand why you can have days when the sky is filled with puffy clouds but never goes behind one, and days where just one cloud buggers everything up. A chill breeze arrived simultaneously and I watched the calm sea transform before my eyes into something choppy and uninviting. N fell asleep so he was all right. I just sat there, slightly hunched, cursing, with only snoring for company. I was too irritated to sleep, so, having made a shell picture on the sand and gathered some up for the girls, there was nothing for it but to swot up. Dull, dull, dull.
I prodded N and said we should get back to the boat. Keith had cooked up supper which we enjoyed before getting ourselves and our vessel ready for the night sail exercise. I wasn’t too sure what to expect and left the harbour with a little bit of apprehension lurking in my stomach (unless it was Keith’s cooking). I’ve never been good with deep dark water at night. Think I went down with the Titanic in a former life. It started well with calmish seas (the breeze died down and the sun came back out just as we’d had to leave the beach) and a serene sun set. Keith sat back contentedly and declared it all very pleasant. He tested us on lights and buoys and I beat N hands down. Hah! That’s what comes of sleeping on the job. My jubilant mood had nonetheless evaporated by 1.00am as we were still lashing about in the straits of Gibraltar in large swells trying to tack in towards Ceuta but failing dismally because of the strong currents and wind in the wrong direction, and was actually thinking ‘sod this’. Luckily Keith came to the same conclusion and suggested we stick the engine on. If it hadn’t been a sailing course, we’d have done that hours ago and would be nicely tucked up in the harbour bar by now. As our shipmates were. Humph. They’d set off earlier than us and had had a different tidal situation. They were hideously cock-a-hoop when we finally joined them at the bar – and not a little pissed to boot. Mr Tim, the big south-African stow-away with the equally big gob and ego, was in fine form. Expletives were issuing from his mouth like there was no tomorrow and he was attacking people, aggressively and relentlessly trying to reach their inner core. It seemed I was his target this particular night. Keith decided he was unnecessarily offensive, which is probably true, but, hey, I can handle it. I’m an incurable nosey parker and probe people incessantly for every last known detail of their so-called private life and that of their first-cousin-once-removed’s. In fact I was rather flattered that he was even interested in finding anything out about me. Then when he kept calling me a ‘damned sexy woman’ I was, of course, putty in his hands. What a nice chap. I’m 45, married, with three children – God, I take it when I can! So I told him very little (no point baring my soul when he was drunk and would forget five minutes later) and threw a few punches back in his direction, finished my lake of gin and tonic (what is it with the Spanish and gin?) and teetered back to my cosy cabin, happy that we got here without hitting any icebergs and that I, at least, would not be encumbered by a hangover in the morning.