Saturday, October 15, 2011

Me and the sea

It is a strange relationship. From the age of 14 I knew I wanted to go to sea. The only opportunity I could see to achieve this ambition was to work on a cruise ship. At the time the only ship I knew of that visited the Falklands was the Linblad Explorer. My mum bless her arranged for me to met the captain on one of her visits to Stanley. I was 15 at the time and had ju

st finished my first year of O'levels. His suggestion was I should finish the second year and then get in touch again. This I would almost certainly have done if the islands had not been invaded. After the conflict I still thought about it but people said they would not employ Falklands Islanders now because they carried Argentine tourists. As a then sixteen year old I listened to these apparently enlightened people and never did check it out for myself. I still wish I had.
So you would think that the life that I lead now would be perfect. We move around our islands very regularly during the summer months on our boat Theo. Who could wish for more but there's a problem. I love big ships, even big ships in bad weather. In 1983 I sailed on the Keiran to Ascension and three months later back to the islands from Ascension. I loved it and the rougher it was the more I loved it.
Theo is 36 feet, a decent size but she only has one engine and no sails. I have become a wimp. I worry continously that we will break down. I no longer like being out in the rough weather in case we should break down or have to stop the engine for any reason. I know if we stop we will swing side on to the waves and that scares me. My fear has become totally irrational. 10 years ago when we first bought George Island I would stand on the beach for a good 15 minutes and retch continously with nerves. At the time we had a wooden boat. What if we spring a board, we will sink. On the plus side although she wasnt designed to sail she had a lovely big red sail which would keep her into the wind if needed. My irrational side drives me and Christopher mad. In the earlier years I used to get this idea that I would feel better off the boat then on. You may think well there is nothing wrong with that but we would be half way between islands and taking into account that I can't swim it is a totally bizarre thing to think. Other times I have had the urge to get into the dinghy and be towed then if something should go wrong then I would already be in the dinghy. This plan however is then squashed by the thought, what if the rope comes untied, I will float away and he (Christopher) may not notice. I am not alone in this thought of being towed in the dinghy however. Elle the dog actually had the nerve to do it. She dissappeared of the boat only to be found standing up in the bow of the dinghy under tow. I often think I should write Christopher a book of warning signs. It would start of with, it's a little rough - this means it's okay at the moment but if it gets a bit rougher there might be a problem. I can hear the wind up high in the sky today - are you sure it's not going to get windy. I don't like it - this is quite serious, it's his first warning that I am not happy. It really means I would like to go back but I am not going to ask, you should just know. I really don't like this - this is the second warning he really should react to this, in fact he shouldn't ask if I want to go back he should just turn and go back. The third and final warning is delivered in total meltdown. It is delivered in no uncertain terms. It comes in the form of unstoppable, uncontrollable verbal abuse and threats of never ever, ever going again. Last time it arrived with an overwhelming desire to kick him in the legs, which I managed to refrain from. My demons however have only got the better of me once. This would never have happened if we didn't have company. I knew it was too rough for me. I could see the waves breaking outside the harbour but we had company. This he thought would give him a bit more leeway. I wouldn't play up in company. Wrong, very wrong, he will not try that again. Today was a lovely day but a bit cold. I decided I would lay on the hatch cover on the deck. Christopher came out and said why don't you get up in the dinghy it will be nice and sunny in there and you will feel DOUBLEY safe. There is no such thing as doubley safe!!! UMM says the insane bit of brain, it sits on a bracket that is welded onto the end of the boat. It hangs out over the back. WHAT IF the bracket breaks, the boat can't fall right of because it is tied but one side will drop. I will fall out. I can't swim, I'm not wearing my lifejacket, he might not notice it has fallen off. I obligingly climb up into the dinghy. After all its only for an hour and a half and worrying about the bracket breaking off means I dont have to worry about the acid that he spilt in the hold which has eaten the legs of his padded boiler suit practically to the knees. I mean what else is it eating. So that is my relationship with Theo and the sea. Never look at the dials. You might notice something is wrong. Enquire about every noise that you have not heard before and most importantly take an i-pod turn it up to full volume and hopefully it will drown all those noises that you have not noticed before that might indicate a problem.


  1. We all have some Demons that scare us. I am not a keen flyer in aircraft. I also do not like great heights like going up Toronto's CN Tower. My friend Lynne is scared of the wild animals she might see near my home: moose, bears, wolves, deer, lynx etc. I try to reassure her but I cannot get her to even go for a walk in the forested part of my land. Be brave and face your demons.

    It is too bad you did not get to work on a ship.We all have regrets for lost opportunities. I passed up a chance to study at Oxford within two weeks of leaving.
    I am very interested in St. Helena Island and think some people there on that isolated island get to work on the St. Helena Mail boat from Britain and regularly sails back and forth from South Africa to Ascension and back stopping at St Helena.

    It would be nice if there were a regular ship sailing between the Falklands and Canada stopping at places of British heritage along the way. Perhaps, in the future trade with Canada could be developed. Canada does not raise enough sheep to meet its modest need. We import frozen lamb from New Zealand.

  2. I now have finally realized why I have so many fears in my life, it must be something in our gene's! Yes dear sister I love boats but also seem to think of "what if something goes wrong". I hate, but loved it years ago and wanted to be an air hostess. Flying I think has become my biggest worry, I cannot sleep and envy those who do. Every noise is worrying, did the engine make a different sound. I look at the airhostess faces when they go by just to see if they have an anxious look on their faces, so u see u r not alone with your fears. I drive my husband mad with my concern, he just sits there as if nothing in the world could happen and I am always nudging him worried about some noise or other. I can get annoyed with him and if there is a spare seat will go and sit in it as i feel he does nothing to ease my anxiety so whatever!