Monday, 25 July 2011

Summer cruise. Part 1, An encounter with the great white Turd


After a few days making lists and packing gear I trailered OB down to l’Ametlla de Mar and launched at Port l’Estany. I had three days of cruising ahead of me, no huge amounts of sea miles to cover, no arrangements or timetables or deadlines, no plans except to enjoy the local coastline and, er, no map or chart. I’d forgotten that piece of kit.

At first I saw this as an unforgivable, lubberly error but then I realised that since I lost my faith in Spanish maps I’ve generally guided myself by intuition. And anyway in Morbihan, under the illusion that charts were to be issued, I’d had no other guide than the map on the place setting where I’d enjoyed oysters on my first night. And hadn’t I sailed round the east coast of Ibiza with a freebie petrol station road map. And didn’t I once navigate the streets of St Helier, Jersey with nothing but a souvenir teatowel.

I was familiar with the shoreline, no map would be no problem and anyway it fitted with my new attitude of more spontaneous, instinctive cruising. But chart or no, adrenalin charged sailing was just around the corner.

OB was sailing herself close hauled and I was gazing up and down the coast wondering whether to loosen sheets and sail north or tack, tighten and go south. A motorboat was coming up from behind on my starboard side, I paid it no heed except to register that soon I’d be eating some wake. But as it came barrelling over the sea it looked less and less like it intended to turn and more and more like it might run me down. ‘Well he must have seen me,’ I thought—I could see the skipper and others on the flybridge—‘He’ll turn.’

‘He’ll turn...he’ll turn...he’ll turn...’ and suddenly I was jumping to unlock the tiller and bearing away. 40ft of white plastic thundered by. I could almost touch it. Torrents of insults spewed from my mouth, I stood up, my right arm and middle finger stabbing through the air but this wasn’t a convenient posture as we were right under the boat’s rooster tail. I threw my weight on the gunwale and stopped her going over but got drenched as water flooded aboard. And still insults flew from my mouth.

Spanish is a great language for swearing, you can do things like shit on the grave of someone’s whoring mother, and although I did this whole heartedly it didn’t quite hit the spot like a deep throated, well rounded Fuck you!

The skipper with his swept back grey locks and blue striped shirt with white collar and cuffs gave as good as he got. He’d obviously got the money to own this sort of boat due to a talent for always having the last word, for as we went out of ear shot he slung the contents of his glass at me.

I stood with my arm stretched above me and finger rigid, bellowing obscenities until I could bellow no more. As the boat became a dot on the northern horizon my anger passed, I tacked, turned south, tighten the sheets and started to bail.

6 comments:

Dale said...

It's times like this you wish ten Dylan Winters would magically appear on the chaps bridge.

Just what is with blokes with small shoes?

Bursledon Blogger said...

I've often thought a small bronze canon mounted on the foredeck would be perfect for such situations!

doryman said...

Ben,
I'll have a few comments to make soon about deliberately rude boaters. (Doryman strikes again)
Why people have to be that way is beyond comprehension. Like the bully who never picks on someone his own size. In a wide open sea, one of these huge plastic monsters will bear down on you like a turning mark in a race. I have always thought of this dangerous and inconsiderate maneuver as particularly American, but apparently not...

michael

Port-Na-Storm said...

Well Done Ben. Learning to swear fluently is a real art form which should be encouraged, but used sparingly. His brother has a monster gin palace complete with flying bridge and radar antenna which he uses exclusively on the upper reaches of the Thames. His boat goes by the name Mr Toad.

EyeInHand said...

I find swearing in foreign languages is often far more satisfying than swearing in one's own, particularly after one has already exhausted the ars-enal of one's native tongue.

It also has the added benefit of bewildering the target of one's affections, since such thimble-witted dog-humpers have rarely mastered their own language. It's in that moment of stunned confusion that you'll have the best opportunity to land a knuckle on his nose.

Ben said...

Talking to a friend about this incident he suggested that maybe boats like Ob are an insult to those who believe that a place on the water is the reserve of the wealthy. My oars and scruffy clothes are offensively oikish to Lacoste shirt and deck shoe wearers.