posted in: Innocents Abroad | 0
The man himself, about to fillet a fish

For the benefit of anyone who just happens upon this page, and wonders what it is all about, the situation is that the daily transcription of my travel diary has been temporarily suspended, on account of the fact that this section of the diary, with us sailing between the Galapagos and Polynesia on the Alma de Libertad, is missing. It is not too long before I will be able to resume, when the next volume begins; in the meantime, I am keeping things ticking along with extracts from some letters that Val wrote at the time, as well as one or two entries based upon my recollections from that period. Of which the following is one. And apologies for the mildly offensive title, though it is significant.

While we always accepted that Jack was the captain, and that it was his job to make decisions, this did not mean we always agreed with them. In particular, we were concerned that the trip was taking far longer than it ought to have done, and as we were shelling out $10 a day, this concern had a practical application. The thing was, travelling west across the Pacific at this time was supposed to be fast and easy, for in general the wind was straight behind you, carrying you direct to Polynesia. But this involved using a technique called “wing and ding”, with poles holding the sails out in different directions from the mast, so that they did not take each other’s wind. But this was a manoeuvre that Jack was unwilling to undertake at sea, since it meant crawling out on deck to fix them. His alternative was to adopt the usual sailing procedure known as tacking, zig-zagging towards our destination, but with each tack taking days at a time, making the whole journey so much longer (and, as a result, more expensive.)

Unsurprisingly, we were unimpressed, and of course my diary recorded this fact, calling Jack a “chickenshit”. In retrospect, I/we were being unfair. Jack was an aging man, unwilling to put himself at risk. But the diary was there to record my feelings as well as our actions… and that was definitely our feeling at the time.

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