10 July 2010
Santiago vs. the sea (days 8-10)
Dear reader, my usual mode of blogging is to pace my study whilst dictating to my long-suffering personal assistant. I like to pace, pacing is what I like to do. Today I write firmly sat, for pacing is a thing of yesterday (and hopefully tomorrow) as presently the world pitches and yaws about me. The bookcase looms and recedes, the carpet rolls and retreats and here I loll, lost, adrift, aboard SS Easy Chair. And the cause? A few nights (and days) pottering about on a choppy high frequency swell betwixt Devon and Wales.
It didn't start well, a 24 hr delay in an effort to sidestep the weather, but then a glassy morning dotted with rafts of becalmed Manxies and rolling Harbour Porpoise lured us out. The afternoon became a little more lumpy, but nothing to steer one away from the slippery chicken, well-cooked vegetables and greasy boot-polish gravy dinner. Inexorably the evening's rise and fall grew, now Fulmars and Gannets winged effortlessly about the gloom, and was it me, or did the the calls of the young Guillemots carry a timorous note of forewarning? We pitched on, the diesel fumes swirled, a Stormie slipped by, the horizon was squeezed between bumpy black and bank of bubbling cloud.
We turned south to slip and climb the beamy swell, we watched, we turned, lurched, watched, auks skittered from the bow, we retreated momentarily to our beds. We rose, we rolled, we watched, we turned, we watched, Common Dolphins swished and snorted unseen underneath our perch, we slept. We rose again, we watched. And throughout, an unnamed member of the team accrued an insurmountable score in the old 'diced carrot game'. Post-dawn, post-Puffins, I slipped below the duvet and into a restless shallow sea of bizarre dreams - Golden Oriole's nested at knee-height behind giant telegraph poles in boundless fields of abandoned cars (not quite white lions on an African beach but there you go).
Extricated myself at lunch, but could only manage breakfast. Momentarily we touched terra firma, one lucky bastard disembarked, then about face to retrace our course on the still gathering swell. Another identical dinner, another dusk, another Stormie and a thinner scattering of the same species in increasingly uncomfortable conditions. At some point the radiator flew clean off the wall. By midnight I had, for the first time in my 36 years, succumbed to Neptune inspired nausea and, despite trailing 12-1, felt a perverse pang of relief on avoiding a whitewash. I was in good company though as half the crew had decided to play, the scoreboard went into meltdown.
Not long after, the chances of being pitched over the side approached near-certainty and a premature halt to proceedings was called. Back to the bunk in the sweaty bowels and and a full-blown retreat to the cocoon of mattress and duvet. Awoke quayside,… still awaiting everything to stop swaying.
It's only my third trip on the big blue this year, it's still only July,... oh dear!
Posted at 23:53