by Andrew Foote
"Is that your village?"
"Yes, that's our village for what it's worth."
We had rounded Merton Point which gave Aruno his first glimpse of Tresgillith and his new home.
The choppy waters had given way to a gentle swell which was just as well as there didn't appear to be anyone around to help get the boat secured to its mooring buoy.
"It looks very quiet."
"Nothing much happens around here but I will admit, today it's quieter than usual but then your Father's boat has gone out so as three or four other men from the village will be with him, that's most likely why."
"Are there many children living here?"
"Quite a few, they'll be in school at the moment but in a week or thereabouts, they'll be on holiday which will give you a chance to meet them."
"Are they nice?"
"Yes, for the most part, they're great. I don't think you'll have any problems making friends."
"I wish we could live here on your boat? It's a happy boat, I feel good here."
"I used to do that during the summer but in the winter it's not much fun.
Here's a thought? Every few days I like to run the engine and generators up so if you like, I'll give you a set of keys and you can come over on the inflatable and make that one of your jobs. What do you think?"
"Thank you! I think I'd like that!
Would you come with me sometimes?"
"Yeah. On days when the pub's shut I will but I won't have the time once it's open which is why I'd like you to help out, like it's something else I won't have to think about."
"Maybe we could swim over?"
"Nice idea but only if we're together. On other days I'd feel happier if you used the inflatable.
Do we have a deal?"
He threw me one of his disarming smiles.
It was time to Abandon Ship and get back to the pub so I could attend to my duties there. Tomorrow we had been asked to accommodate a wake for an elderly lady who had been resident in our village. Probably yet another cottage to be sold off as a holiday home for some wealthy incomer but rather that then letting it decay I guess.
Cathy and Aruno walked with me so I could introduce him to my Mum then after the initial pleasantries, I gave him a tour leaving Mum and Cath to talk.
First I showed him the bar then the cellar where I hoped he would help me with bottling up and tending to the selection of cask beers.
The ground floor was nothing out of the ordinary but then he asked if it would be okay for me to show him my room.
"It's big. I like your room!"
"It used to be Mum and Dad's but after Dad died, Mum didn't like to use it so we traded places. I like it because it overlooks the sea not the road.
I love the sea."
Aruno looked out from the open window then turned to me and smiled.
"Now I know where you sleep, I can think of you being here at night. I will feel closer to you now I know."
"Thank you. I will think of you thinking of me."
"Cathy's brother seems like a nice lad? I had quite a chat with her when you were showing him around. She told me that he's become very fond of you."
"He'll grow out of it."
"Rubbish! You rather like him as well. I can see it!"
"Yes I do. There's just something that draws me to him.
I kind of offered him the chance to help out here like when we're busy. He doesn't expect to be paid so would that be okay?"
"He shouldn't really be allowed to serve behind the bar…… not that anyone around here would give a damn but it would be good for you to have some help and also, he gets paid so end of discussion Simeon, alright?"
He needs to be occupied if he's going to settle otherwise I wouldn't have suggested it."
"Who's kidding who here!"
"Alright, so I like him a lot. Now get off my case Mum, we've had this discussion before.
Dear God! You're almost as bad as Cath!"
Sleep that night didn't come easily and I had trouble figuring out why.
Actually that's not true, I knew full-well what the problem was even though I didn't want to admit it, not even to myself.
I had become infatuated by him. I hoped that he was thinking of me 'cos I was most certainly thinking about him.
I wanted to see his smile, hear his voice, I wanted…… I wanted…… him?
But he's fourteen and I'm seventeen…… this has to be wrong!
But it feels so very right!
I needed to cry…… so I did.
I can't remember the last time I cried?
The cry of seagulls – annoying in the extreme at four in the morning but it had me out of bed, showered and in the cellar by five o'clock which was probably no bad thing given that my first thought when I woke…… well apart from cursing the seagulls, was centred on Aruno.
Not for the first time in my life, Mum's spotlight was on me.
When Cathy and I first became really friendly, Mum would quiz me regarding our relationship like, were we 'at it' and if we were, were we using protection and stuff.
We were like thirteen back then for heaven's sake, and I was so amazed that Cath even liked me enough to want to hang around with geeky-me, thoughts of us having sex were…… unthinkable but here I am, my best friend, almost accusing me of being gay and now my own mother is doing much the same thing.
Did I want him sexually?
I'm not sure, but I knew that I would sell my soul to the devil just to have the opportunity to take him in my arms, run my fingers through his hair and…… kiss him.
Yes…… I wanted to kiss him.
Then there was the small problem of that voice of conscience in my head.
Yes…… that bloody annoying voice that prevents you from having a blast, raising hell and having fun, but mine spoke to me with a degree of authority as if it were my prison guard.
'Back to your cell, Simeon Woolacott. Dismiss that boy from your mind or face the consequences!'
But you can't, can you! This isn't like Facebook where you can just 'unfriend' someone?
We had a good day.
Well it was profitable at least.
Mum informed me that a little over fifteen hundred pounds had gone through the till, some of which might help towards the diesel I'd emptied into the boat.
That made me feel better.
We weren't opening that evening so Mum took herself off to bed while I cleared up but later, instead of going out to stargaze, I followed her lead and I was asleep by ten o'clock but again sleep eluded me and I was up by half four, sitting outside enjoying or perhaps I should say, coughing over my first cigarette of the day.
So live with it, okay?
I took a walk to Cathy's house but the curtains were closed so I ambled back with the intention of totally indulging myself by taking an early morning swim before breakfast and another busy day.
A quick dip only as I hadn't thought to wear swimming trunks but this would be safe enough with no one else awake and after all, this was only going to be a refreshing bathe wasn't it?
But then my attention was focused on just one thing. Our inflatable was missing.
And I panicked.
I tried to remember if I'd pulled it sufficiently far enough up the shingle to prevent it from drifting off on the tide but assuming I hadn't, it wouldn't have gone far given the still breeze and calm conditions.
I wondered if Aruno had taken it over to the boat so he could start the engines but at five in the morning, I doubted he had.
The boat had turned with the tide so it was facing the harbour mouth but there was no sign of the inflatable but then, what if he had made a really early start? Had he done that, then it might be that the boat was facing towards the shore on an ebb tide and would be secured to the port side but I couldn't see that side without taking a walk.
I didn't walk…… I ran.
Well, that solved that mystery. The inflatable was tied to the port side of the boat. I wanted to understand why Aruno had gone there so early but as he had taken my only means of getting there short of swimming over, I was stuffed, but I had to go there so I stripped down to my boxers and dived in which, with hindsight, was a stupid idea as the waist band was weak and I promptly lost them to the water!
I like swimming in the buff but not when I going to have to face a fourteen-year-old boy, but with all options closed, I swam to the dingy and up the steps that were inset into the side of the boat then hoisted myself up onto the deck.
I did find him eventually. I found him tucked up in my bunk. I think he must have been cold because all I could see was his mop of long wavy blond hair on my pillow, so I turned to find something to sit on and wait until he woke but as I did, so I heard him speak.
"I'm sorry. I had to come here. Please don't be angry with me?"
Forgetting my state of undress, I turned to look at him. He couldn't have helped but notice my nakedness, he did because I saw him checking me out although he said nothing but rather, he waited for me to reply.
"I'm not angry Aruno, honestly I'm not, but when I noticed the inflatable missing, I was worried it might have got washed away but when I saw it here, that could only mean one thing…… you had taken it so you could get on-board Conqueror.
That's fine, I told you that you could come but it was so early and that made me worry as well."
"I'm fine but last night…… Cathy was tired, she told me that being on the sea always makes her tired."
"Yes, she's told me that before."
"She went to sleep really early and…… I was lonely. I missed you, I wanted to be with you so I went to your pub but the window to your room was closed so I couldn't get in so I made my mind up to come here instead."
"I like it that you wanted to be with me but I still don't understand why you came here rather than sleep in your own bed then come and see me in the morning?"
"I can't smell your scent in my own bed, but I can here.
Please don't hate me?"
"I can't hate anyone, especially you. It's like why I never get really angry…… slightly annoyed maybe, but never angry. I don't have those emotions. They don't exist inside of me."
"Does love exist inside you?"
"Yes, I'm sure it does…… somewhere.
It hasn't introduced itself to me yet but…… maybe one day it might."
I searched through the cupboards and drawers and eventually unearthed a rather snug -fitting pair of shorts that would protect my modesty then took Aruno down to the engine room and pointed out a pump handle and stopcock.
"You open this stopcock then swing the pump handle left-to right then right-to-left until you see fuel through that sight glass. That means the day tank that supplies the galley is full so we can light the range and brew some coffee.
Once you've done that, start the engines and generator and leave them running for an hour then we can go home for the day."
"I would rather stay here with you?"
"Is it that you want to be with me or on this boat Aruno?"
"I want to be with you Simeon, with you ."
"Then we have some coffee while the batteries are charging, then we leave. I'll cook you breakfast and then we can go out and explore the area together."
Aruno gave me one of his sideways smiles then put his arms around me drawing me into a cuddle.
I didn't know how to react. This was wrong, wasn't it?
But the thing was, I didn't care.
I cuddled him back…… it seemed to last a lifetime but eventually I took my hands from around his waist and placing them on his shoulders, gently pushed him away and placed a kiss on his forehead.
This time, instead of giving me a coy smile, he grinned, allowing me to read his happiness, his eyes, not full of questions this time, they were laughing!
This is a work of fiction and my characters only exist in my head. However, sadly the following is true, but, for now, let us pretend it isn't.
Simeon's boat, M.V. Conqueror is represented in the photos on offer, by a fishing vessel with registered side number PZ 1186 out of Penzance, based at Brixham, and was named Chloe T.
'On 31st August 2012, M.V. Chloe T developed problem whilst out at sea; her last position was reported as being 17 miles South-west of Bolt Point off the coast of Devon, UK.
The first indication that something was amiss was the activation of the engine room smoke alarm and when the engineer went to investigate, water was entering the engine room and the engine's flywheel was allowing the water to spray the turbine, causing the resulting steam to set off the alarm.
The steam also caused the port generator to fail and all electrical power was lost except for the emergency batteries.
The main engine was stopped and the starboard generator started which restored power but then further investigation found that an 8" diameter pipe that supplied seawater to the cooling systems had fractured and given the depth of water, there was no possibility of a repair. Despite all attempts, the bilge pumps were unable to cope with the intake of water so her Skipper decided to instruct the crew to abandon the boat and take to the life rafts.
They were picked up by a freighter that had received their distress call and subsequently airlifted to shore.
At the time of the accident, the sea was slight and the visibility good.
All members of the crew were rescued.
There were no casualties.'
Full details of the incident are in the Marine Accident Investigation Branch's report, from page 27 onwards
I have the most ultimate respect for all professional seaman and so I hope that using this link to a photo doesn't cause any upset, in fact I hope by doing so, I am able to breathe new life into the memory of this once very fine boat.
So whether you live somewhere away from the coast, whether you never intend to take to the water, it might well be that you decide to holiday on the continent and take your car and family there by ferry.
Please God nothing bad happens but…… per-chance it does? You'll be very grateful the R.N.L.I. are there to rescue you so next time you see somebody out on your High Street raising funds for them, chuck in a quid or two?
Our webmaster used to run a charter business, which hit the rocks rather literally. He was rescued by the RNLI, and he knows with precision what Andy means! ~ Webmaster
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