Friday, 13 August 2010

The first row



Just before my last bout of chemo, feeling better than I had for months, I decided to take the boat out. My brother Daniel was over from London, the weather had been settled and carpe diem was my motto.

The following is an extract from my cancer diary.

“I’ve been planning this jaunt for a few days, counting on Daniel’s presence for launching OB and rowing me back to shore if I get too tired. I reckon that on a flat, windless sea it’s a safe bet. The only problem is that Daniel has arrived from England having fallen off his bicycle. His knee is grazed and his wrist sprained. He won’t be able to row and will have to go easy on land. For my part I’m still 15 kilos under weight and I’ve got this dodgy knee. Together we make one-and-a-bit healthy people.”
“Pulling the boat over the sand is like dragging a dead cow while someone turns a red-hot corkscrew in my knee. Daniel grunts pushing the boat with one hand. We get OB to the water’s edge and I send D off to buy a couple of cold beers while I finish readying the boat.”
“We push out into the pink waves and jump aboard in thigh-deep water. I take up the oars and start rowing. It is the most natural thing in the world. My body is made for this. I can’t help leaning back into the strokes and the boat surges forward, light and lively. A complete contrast with how it behaves on land.”
“Amazed at how natural the action feels I want to pull and pull but I prudently rest after only 100 metres or so. The sun is sinking behind the houses and the clouds are yellow. OB rocks, alive to every nuance of the sea, transmitting every movement to me.”

“I decide to change the oars and try out the new ones. They feel very big and are heavier to pull. I can’t really gauge if we are going any faster than with the smaller oars though D says we’re streaking along. I row down the coast a while then stop and rig an oar on the aft thole pin so that D can row as well. With an oar each OB really does seem to go faster though we can’t hold a straight line. We turn round, zigzag back and tie up to a buoy. The colours on the water are a mix of anthracite, pearl and flame.”

“We break out a picnic supper of tinned sardines, mussels, dried sausage, cheese, baguette and cold beer and eat using the central thwart as a table. The sunset fizzles and darkness and dew fall. The half moon is hazy and it’s broken reflections stretch across the water.”


Thanks Daniel!

23 comments:

Bob Easton said...

Ben,
It is an absolute delight to read that you're back on the water!

You paint a fine picture of a pleasant ride and sunset. I can almost savor the beer.

I'm looking forward to hearing that you're regaining your strength and as many of those lost kilos as you want back.

All the best for completely regaining your health!

escenavegant said...

Benvolgut Ben,
Estic emocionat en llegir el teu post i veure que has tingut la força física i d'esperit per tornar al mar. Encara tinc la pell de gallina quan escric aquestes quatre ratlles. En aquesta lluita que mantens amb la malaltia mereixes de totes totes una victòria final, per les teves ganes de viure i força espiritual que transmet's en el teu diari. Rep una molt forta abraçada meva, i estic segur, de tots els teus amics que des del litoral gironí nomès desitgen de veure't, tant aviat com sigui possible, entre nosaltres a bord de la teva Ona Windblue o de qualsevol altra bastiment en el qual, de ben segur, seràs per sempre benvingut.
Deseitjar-te com no molta... SALUT!

Gavin Atkin said...

Bravo Ben!

Gavin Atkin said...

Just to be on the water again must have felt great. Hope you manage it again soon.

EyeInHand said...

Awesome. Simply.

Bursledon Blogger said...

Great to see you out on the water Ben

Anonymous said...

Somriu, tens el que cal per sortir d'aquest mal tràgol:

il.lusió, esperança, i sort .




Endavant !

Ja veuràs que molt aviat tornaràs a solcar la Mediterrània, i un capvespre d'estiu, mentre el sol ja és baix i una feble brisa impulsa suaument l'OB, pensaràs en tot el què has passat i donaràs gràcies per viure aquell instant i per haver-ne viscut tants d'altres, bons i dolents, perquè tots són necessaris i formen part de la nostra vida, de la nostra existència.

I amb els darrers raigs de sol que agradablement escalfen el teu cos, just abans que la foscor ho ompli tot, penses en tu i en la teva família, en els amics, i en els que ja no hi són, en el què has fet i el que podries haver fet, en el que potser hauries d'haver fet,... i la nit ja és aquí, i et fondràs amb aquesta natura desbordant que t'envolta, i diràs "Gràcies!" perquè saps valorar el què no es compra amb diners, i el què malauradament, tantíssima gent no sap valorar.
I t'adormiràs mentre el Mare Nostrum gronxa la teva barqueta amb l'infant Ben al seu damunt. Aquell infant que mai ha deixat de somniar,...
I sentiràs una veu que et diu:

"Bona nit,..."

Ben said...

Thanks again everybody for all the support.

Jordi, i tant que ens veurem pel litoral gironí. Una abraçada!

Anonim, merci per aquestes ratlles tant boniques.

Ben

Geoff_D said...

Great to hear that things are progressing, Ben. Been there, and I'm here to say that, in the end, it's worth it.

Keep rowing and scoffing those beers, mate.

Manontheriver said...

Bravo. So happyyou are rowing again. Maybe tomorrow I will do the same. I MISS SO MUCH ROWING.

All my best
giacomo

Anonymous said...

Esper que et milloris Ben, som un seguidor de les teves gestes nàutiques, des del nord de Mallorca

Joan

robert.ditterich said...

warm congratulations on your efforts and your very evocative blog. Hope you don't mind that I've linked one of mine to this pic and this blog.

Vidal said...

Great to see you back!
Best of lucks to you!

Canoez said...

Having missed the last few posts, I'm glad to find you out enjoying what you love. Keep doing it!

Paco Beltrán said...

Ben!! Hoy he visitado tu blog para releer algunos posts más antiguos y me he llevado una alegria al ver tu silueta a lo Hunter S. Thompson a bordo de la Onawind Blue. Son fantásticas noticias y espero sigamos disfrutando de tus aventuras aunque sea desde otros mares...
Un abrazo enorme!

Far de la Banya said...

Una abraçada des de Tarragona i molta força!!!!

Eduard

Gavin Atkin said...

We're still thinking of you Ben!

Ben said...

Cheers Gav.

Caroline said...

Nice! Happy holidays to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Ben,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for you and your's

Joe

Far de la Banya said...

Ben,

Et deixo un detallet de reis i una abraçada al meu blog...

Blog mòdul B said...

A finals d'any vam treballar a partir del teu vídeo a classe.

Vinga, no deixis de lluitar.

Eduard Boada

Dominic von Stösser said...

Gavin suggested I contact you directly; I just wanted to wish you a speedy and complete recovery, and express my admiration and regard for the amazing boat you've built and the extraordinary voyages you're undertaking.

You've made me want to build a Trow of my own...