Monday, 16 April 2012

Innocent Afloat ii

2. The Crew

This is ii in a series on the voyage that could only have been my first. Part i is here

One skipper and one inexperienced crew wasn’t enough to handle the 40 foot sloop. I knew a Japanese woman who was a diver and also keen to learn to sail so suggested her as crew.

Chikako, a little older than me, experienced in using the sea’s surface as a launch pad for going beneath, was taken on without a trial.

Our fourth crew was Sylvia, a fifty-plus year old native of Auckland, who wasn’t going to work for her passage, but financing it with an undisclosed sum. For which she was given the aft cabin, separate from the rest of the boat, accessed from the cockpit.

With his crew gathered, Les announced he wanted to sail to Australia via Hawaii adding approximately another 4000 miles to the original trip. Unable to believe our ‘luck’, we agreed.

Luck. Ignorance. Trust. A strange triad, with each component stretching towards and pulling against another, unhinging the fulcrum, shifting the weight, the equilibrium, between them. I swung with it. Les suggested I move onto the boat to save rent. And despite the landlord of the hostel I had been bunking in warning me that Les looked like some guy who had disappeared with a cople of young women a few years previously, I packed my rucksack and thought, Save money, save money...

Chikako headed to Auckland to see some friends for a week or two, and Sylvia would return the night before our departure. Preparation swung around me. It’d be another fortnight possibly month before we departed. Sails needed to be washed, new lines bought, charts photocopied. Photocopied?  Why not buy new charts? How would a patchwork of black and white copied charts reflect the Pacific? Trust. How new did lines need to be? How strong? Ignorance. A dingy would suffice as life-raft. It was always best not to leave the boat unless there was no boat left. Luck. The dingy needed painting. Les also found a huge swathe of fishing nets he wanted us to fix before we left, to see if he could sell to some guy he knew. I spent a few happy afternoons on the beach knotting a practically nonexistant net back together. Knotting my certainty of this being the best thing I'd ever done more and more tightly to my thoughts.

And whenever I stopped a job, and the spinning span a little too fast, I focused on what I did know: food, storage size, galley equipment; and what I could anticipate: sea, adventure, the unknown …

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