Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Summer Cruise, Part 4. And the dawn brought unicylists

Back at the beach the lifeguards were packing up their tanning oils. Using the oars I kept Onawind Blue to seaward of the breaking waves waiting for the channel to clear of people and for a pause in the wave train. The sea calmed a tad. I rowed round the swimmers and to the beach pulling quickly up onto the sand before the next set of waves arrived.

It is pleasant to arrive somewhere from the sea but my brief pleasure was soon followed by a sense of oppression. I felt like I’d just arrived at an informal party in outrageous fancy dress. A colony of sunbathers occupied the beach each with swimwear and a bright towel—there was no need to bring a boat with sails to the gathering, that was just plain showing off.

I looked around but no one seemed interested in this late arrival, for all his attention grabbing apparel. And even if they were, how can one possibly convey the subtle blends of exhilaration and angst that make cruising a small boat so sublime. Near me a group of French boys were having a sand battle. My French doesn’t quite stretch to ‘I’ll skin you alive if you get one grain of sand in this boat.’ But I can growl quite convincingly. And that was my job for the rest of the afternoon—to sit on the foredeck being bearish.

As the people left and the mosquitoes arrived I ended my vigil and slunk off to the beach bar for cold beer. I let the th-th-thumping music wash through me rather than have it b-b-boom against my eardrums and watched a young man strip down to his underwear for a photo. ‘Get your balls out.’ squealed the photographer. I turned away but caught an arm movement that suggested he complied with her wishes.

I set up OB’s tent with satisfaction. Made from a dismantled, one man, Decathlon 2second tent it was working well, though I’d yet to spend an entire night underneath it. As I sat and looked at the sea and made my own guesses for the forecast I doubted I’d get through the night without taking the tent down. It might have been wishful thinking but I reckoned the swell and cloud would disappear and that the Mestral would reassert itself.

At 4am I found myself smiling as I dismantled the wildly flapping tent. The sand, lit by the half moon, blew in cool swathes across the beach and into the sea. The Mestral had returned, polishing the sky to brilliant black.

I remade the bed in an attempt to stop the ingress of sand and when I laid my head down was aware that my pillow had blown away. I thought of it cartwheeling across the Mediterranean and cursed, I hate losing gear. I judged the wind by how much the sand stung my cheek where it protruded from the sleeping bag—force 5 to 6 without a doubt.

The wind seemed to strengthen with the dawn. I looked sleepily around. Coming towards the boat were a group of cyclists, unicyclists with piles of unruly dreadlocks, Italian unicyclists, ‘Yes, we're crazy.’ They said and did I have any bread to spare, they were hungry and had a hard day of cycling ahead of them if they were going to be in Barcelona for the weekend. I gave them an orange each and got back to the business of wondering how to tackle the conditions at sea.

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