January 6th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0
Ari’s photo – Chris playing chess

6th   Day 3 at sea.  A beautiful bright sunny morning, the first we’ve had yet.  As if to celebrate, it was decided to hoist the sails.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t all; that smooth an operation – I suppose basically these guys spend the vast majority of their time in port, loading + unloading, + simply don’t get enough practice at the various acts of seamanship they are required to perform.  As I said, they are very nimble + sure-footed about the ship, but for any task that requires a bit of teamwork, there is no leadwership, no organisation, + consequently they drift thro’ their tasks at a bit of a loss.  However, the sails were hoisted – 2 stay-sails + the main – + very pretty we looked too.  We also picked up speed in dramatic fashion, but as we don’t have any instruments on board – not up on the bridge at any rate – I couldn’t give any figures.  There are very few concessions to the modern world made at all, actually.  We have an engine, of course, + a very powerful one.  Attendant upon that is electric power, driving lights + a power-point to work the stereo.  And there is a kerosene pump stove with just one ring.  And that’s about it.  There are 2 compasses, + one pair of binoculars, but they’ve been around for quite a while now.  Other than that, nothing.  No sat nav, no radar, no RDF (fair enough.)  But no radio of any kind, receiver or transmitter.  No sextant (+ no tables to use, even if there were one.)  Not a single winch of any description.  Yet they seem to get by, + more than get by.

Preparing the sail

It looked so inviting out on deck, that despite my earlier fears, I thought I’d risk the short trip from the galley to the hatch cover which, being covered with a sack-like material, provides a good grip.  It was a piece of cake, actually (being a calm sea, no rain, + no roll), + it was very very good to lie there in the sunshine with a few of the crew, the sail billowed above us.  Val too came down briefly, + Harry took a picture or (knowing him) five, from the bridge.  I also played LBM at chess, but lost.  In time returned to the bridge to read, + soon after they took the sails down.  I believe tho’, that rather than being anything to do with me, this was because of a storm up ahead. Or perhaps, because we were being forced to go too far off course.  With no way, once out of sight of land, of determining position, I imagine their navigation is done by dead reckoning, so they can’t afford to mess around overmuch with tacking + whatnot.

We spent the rest of the day in the usual way, reading, writing, etc.  A big tin of biscuits made its appearance, presumably “damaged goods” from the hold, + we, along with everybody else, dipped into those quite merrily – a little over-sweet, of course, but at least fresh.


Today’s pen-picture is at the other end of the chain of authority from the captain.  Tom (at least that’s our name for him) the cabin-boy.  He is young, 15 or 16 I’d say, but not at all slight – the work here puts muscles on the slightest frame.  He is smooth-complexioned, crew-cut, + had a terrific wide grin which flashes across his face whenever he sees us.  He knows a few words of English too, + delights in trying them out.  The other day, for example, our dinner was brought up to us on the back-deck – rice + fish.  Tom pointed this out to us.  “Ikan,” he said, “Feesh.”  And out came that grin – magic. He’s a terrific little disco dancer too – rhythm, enthusiasm + energy.  I reckon he must have put in quite a bit of practice somewhere, but God knows how.  He gets quite a few of the boring jobs around – fetching, + then boiling, water – but Val + I caught our first glimpse of him this morning, not having seen him since we pulled out.  We’d become a little worried, thinking that our favourite cabin boy had got himself washed overboard, but from hints I’ve received I believe he’s been stricken down with mal de mer – you’ll have to grow out of that one, son.

Another pleasant day at sea. and plenty of photos to illustrate the point.

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