Monday, 13 February 2012
The dangers of the night
I bedded down for the night amongst other boats on a small, pebble beach, near the town on the southern side of Cadaqués Bay. I’d planned to anchor off but a regular pulse of low swell pumped into the bay fanning out to enter every nook and lapping onto every beach. What is more the northerly Tramontana was forecast to bring 20 knots shortly after midnight. Surely the most seamanlike thing to do was haul out of the water and get the security of firm earth under OB’s bottom.
This was the first night ashore after four days and OB’s movement still rolled through me, rocking me to sleep. From deep in the warmth of the night I registered the wind swing to the north and rehearse a few moaning notes in the pines, the boat tent enthusiastically flapping time.
The next time I woke it was to full-voiced singing. But it wasn’t coming from the wind. A loose knot of summertime revellers wove dissonantly across the beach. I heard stones splashing into the water and crashing onto the pebbles. For a moment the party seemed to move on but then it formed an eddy and surged back and forth before coming to a halt around OB. The owner of a strident voice shook the boat tent. Then he let his mouth off the leash, maybe for the benefit of the girls, and bade me rise from slumber.
My course of action was clear: break out the trusty AK-47 and let loose.
But in my pre-cruise haste I had neglected to pack it. Furthermore, accustomed to peaceful nights and solitude I was naked in my sleeping bag. To spring out from under the boat tent could only put me at a worse disadvantage. I lay tight and kept mum.
The tent shook (I was pleased to see it could withstand this treatment) and another slurred exhortation was loudly offered. Again I lamented my depleted armoury and absent wardrobe. But I maintained my resolve and the loudmouth’s testosterone charged challenge fell just short of actually lifting the boat tent.
Shortly the eddy gathered momentum and changed direction. Soon I heard a clatter of stones hitting boats. The sound of rocks ricocheting off topsides was almost more distressing than direct threats. I heard people jumping on an upturned fibreglass hull and a cracking sound. I heard singing, swearing, whoops and shouts coming and going and eventually dissolving into the night.
The storm had moved on. It had probably caused more damage that a month, or even a year of conventional weather.