May 3rd, 4th 1982

posted in: Innocents Abroad | 1
Porpoises… or dolphins

Dead, dull, depressing days, both of them.  Not that they didn’t have their high points, there’s no doubt about that, but we were just getting angrier + angrier with Dave, not for anything major (apart from the fact that the cunt had turned around for really no reason at all) but for all the little things.  Like the way he wouldn’t take the wheel.  Starting at 3 am, Val + I shared the helm for 19 hours, + then Monika took over for the next 8.  Like waking Val up from a long sleep to close the hatch – + then doing it himself.  For getting annoyed at things which fell over when he was the one who’d put them there.  Most of all for not being what he’d said he was, which was determined + capable.  I’m not saying it was his fault exactly, but we were lost for ages.  The guy couldn’t work out where we were – and didn’t (or wouldn’t) believe it when we did get a reading.  We discovered later that he had been making a stupid mistake throughout.  Not important, but just typical of the guy.  The best moment was when the porpoises started playing next to us, just like in the movies, jumping, diving, etc.  It was fun to try shooting practice at bottles of soda – Val got pretty good with a .22 revolver.  The Walkman got a bit of use too. 

On Monday, one of my best moments was sitting downstairs, drinking a couple of beers, + so getting mildly sloshed, listening to Bobby Dylan on the headphones, + reading James Hilton’s “Goodbye Mr Chips”.  Nice, warm, mellow.  And on Tuesday Val started wearing the thing at the helm.  Probably not the sort of thing we should have done, but we both didn’t really care any more.  On Wednesday, the sea was so calm, so placid, like a millpond, and a hazy fog all around us.  Then, as night came on, nasty, choppy, bouncy water.  I quit the helm + went below, hoping by the time morning came, we would be at Balboa.

The example of the watch, and its haphazard arrangement, was just an example of Dave’s leadership style.  And with someone having to man the wheel 24/7, it would have become something of a burden.  But still, that was now in the past; we were killing time, just waiting to get back to Panama and looking for an alternative.

  1. Pamela J Blair

    Val wearing “the thing” at the helm? Sounds mysterious, makes me think of many possible scenarios…

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