January 8th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

Day 5.  The first thing I was presented with when I emerged from the cabin this morning was the boss man (our name for the owner) proffering a large bowl of boiled squid, presumably for me to tuck into for breakfast.  Since this was the last thing I wanted – or very low down on the list, anyway – I refused, politely but firmly.  Val, however, gamer than I, tucked into a couple, receiving instruction from LBM on just how to do so.  First, she told me afterwards, you bite their heads off… but I wouldn’t let her continue.  If you really want to know how to eat squid, you must ask her yourself.  For my own breakfast, I cooked a pot of porridge.  I made it specially thick, the way Val likes it, + then she had the nerve to tell me it was too thick.  Typical.

As we were finishing breakfast, we were delighted to see the dugout being pulled aboard, + then the ancor raised.  Sure enough, we were soon under way once more.  That little piece of excitement (+ relief) aside, the day had little to offer.  I spent most of the day writing a letter to Pete, + amused myself by compiling a crossword to include with it.  And when evening came around, I read another chapter of my book – it should just last the voyage, but only just.

Pen-picture today is of Fletch.  That’s a new name tho’, + we still think of him as the First Mate.  I doubt that this is his true rank, but his role is as trusted assistant (hence Fletch – Fletcher Christian – get it?)  He is virtually the only crew member with any authority (with the possible exception of the engineer), + he + the captain bear the whole load of steering between them, relieving each other every few hours.  This seems a crazy situation to us, when there are 11 other crew members entirely idle, + most of them capable people.  They aren’t even required to do any watch-keeping duties whatever, + spend the whole time sleeping + eating.  The situation as it is must be tedious for them, + exhausting for the Captain + Fletch.  You will not hear Fletch make any complaint tho’, being what they call the strong, silent type.  And really in most senses his situation is not so bad, since he is the only one of the crew, so far as one can tell at the moment, who has any kind of future, since he is clearly being groomed for captain.  His shipboard life too is far better than most, especially when not at sea.  He has the other cabin, + tho’ he currently has to share it with the owner, that cannot be a normal situation.  Other things too denote privilege – he is the person in charge of the cassette player, for example.  It’s not his, I don’t think – it’s been “borrowed” from the hold, tho’ he does have a small, too small, cassette collection, so presumably he either does have his own player or obtaining one is an easy + regular occurrence.  He is unfailingly polite to us tho’ (when he can be coaxed to say anything at all) + has shown Val our position on the chart.  A nice bloke, who will doubtless go far.

We went to bed immediately it grew dark, there being absolutely nothing else to do.  It was, tho’, the most appalling night.  As the moon came up, the waves rose up to greet it, _ the ship’s rolling + pitching grew much worse as a result.  Neither of us was able to find a comfortable position, + bones became sore + bruised with the constant rock + roll.  Any sort of insomnia is dreadful when the circumstances are such that you can’t make the time pass easily while you wait for sleep to come (which basically means being at home where you can make a cup of tea, read a book, etc) but is much worse when you are hideously uncomfortable as well as bored.  I wandered out on deck a couple of times, but it didn’t really help any.  Eventually, of course, morning came, + with it relief.

A less satisfactory day (though really they are all much the same, the difference being in my mood more than events and conditions. But we did pass an uncomfortable night, and that is especially tedious when there is no way to alleviate it. No photo of Fletch, I’m afraid.

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