by Andrew Foote
Perhaps the only way to describe Sunday morning's weather was Nasty. Gale force winds, driving rain and high seas had me wondering if making the trip to Torquay was such a good idea. But by the time we were ready to leave, the rain clouds had given way to watery sunshine and the wind had moderated a bit, so as Conqueror was built to handle rough conditions, we decided to bite the bullet and head out.
During a lull in trade the previous afternoon, I'd phoned Torquay Harbour and had managed to secure a berth close to the Marion S as this would make life easier for Cathy and Rob when it came to giving her the once-over, inspect her for damage and prepare her to put back out to sea.
The journey was nothing short of a nightmare. We were thrown around – the bow lifting clear of the water before smashing down into the waves sending them crashing over the boat. Rob elected to sit tight in the engine room in case of problems; rather him than me, as I much preferred being able to see the horizon on days like today.
Aruno and I took it turn and turn-about on the helm whilst Cathy made light of what was probably the most difficult task, that of delivering regular mugs of coffee to the rest of us.
Once we were about thirty miles from Torquay, I radioed the Harbour Master then taking full advantage of an incoming tide, we turned west towards the safety of land. By nine in the evening we were tied off and it was time to get off the boat and find somewhere to eat which turned out to be a rather nice Indian restaurant. We apologised for our dress code, but having explained the circumstances, they were very accommodating and having consumed a really delightful meal, we left to give the Marion S a swift inspection.
Oh brother, what a mess!
The bridge was orderly enough with no signs of damage but below, the accommodation had been trashed and would be needing at least a partial refit.
The engine room looked very sorry for itself – no obvious damage but the ingress of water following the opening of the sea cocks had left some ugly staining on the bulkheads and machinery, numerous blown fuses and burnt wiring, all of which would need attention before we left for Tresgillith.
Rob removed the inspection plates from the side of the engine, dipped the sump and declared it water-free, Aruno checked the fuel level – a quarter full while Cathy checked the state of the batteries.
"We should get some charge in them and fast. God only knows when the engines were last run up so the refrigeration plant has eaten most of the power, but at least the catch is okay."
I volunteered to stay behind and do the business as Marion had a similar setup to Conqueror and exactly the same main engine.
"You go back to Conqueror. I'll do this and while I'm at it, I'll check all the instrumentation for damage. There's beer and white wine in the fridge and red wine in the dry store so help yourselves but leave some for me please. I'll see you in a couple of hours."
With the air compressor running, the main engine, a Stork, identical to Conquerors, started without a hitch as did the Starboard generator but the Port unit remained stubbornly quiet but that was easily explained due to the burnt out cabling. A job for the morning after trips to a chandler for replacements.
Next was the galley and light the range. I was confident that would be alright but it would help dry out the interior which smelt musty and unloved.
Next came the instruments; all working with the exception of Marion's radar which was dead. The antenna turned but the receiver wouldn't boot, but if push came to shove, that could be attended to back at Tresgillith as Conqueror could act as Marion's eyes. Then two and a half hours later, with all engines shut down, I walked back to find the others and a very welcome bottle of something.
"Anything untoward Simeon?"
"Port genny and your radar refuses to play but otherwise, I think you're good to go."
"The generator doesn't worry me, but the radar might pose a problem don't you think?"
"Without the time to have a serious dig around, I really don't think either problem is terminal. There's such a mish-mosh of knackered cables down there which is most likely the cause of both problems, but we can take a better look in the morning.
Did anyone think to listen to the shipping forecast?"
"A complete contrast to today. Hot, sunny and calm, high pressure building from the south with good visibility."
"Good enough! Today was um…… interesting, but I'm in no hurry to see a repeat performance. Pass that bottle will you? I fancy getting drunk!"
The bunk in my cabin is a single; well actually all of the bunks on board are, but I made a mental note to alter that situation and soon.
I think it was probably a good thing that both Aruno and I were slightly pissed otherwise sleeping would've been an impossibility, but at five in the morning, I woke to find him gone and me feeling pretty rested despite my alcohol intake of the previous night.
Coffee and lots of it was the order of the day, then once everyone had surfaced, breakfast and another busy day.
I took my first mug outside and sat down on the deck to watch the People-Traffic.
I love people-watching – wondering why they're all scurrying around with no obvious purpose other than get in the way of other people doing much the same thing.
Ants spring to mind. They're busy, but none of us know the reason for their Busyness other than, unlike ants, these good people are hot in the pursuit of making money for people who have enough already. 'Am I going to be one of those ant-like people in a couple of years?' I asked myself.
'Not if I can help it!'
I must try and rid myself of this annoying habit of talking to myself. 'Anyway – I'm going to live in a jungle in Brazil, aren't I?'
Aruno got back just at the point I was going in to refill my coffee mug so I got one for him as well.
"I turned over and almost fell out of the bunk so I decided to go for a walk.
There are so many boats here Mimi-cu!"
"Yes, and most of them are very expensive, like toys for the obscenely wealthy."
"You sound bitter my Mimi-cu. Are you?"
"Not bitter – I've no reason to be, but just watching all those people rushing around, targets to be achieved and deadlines to meet, all of them programmed to believe that if they don't succeed, the world will stop turning makes me realise that that's not what life is all about.
Last summer, there was a family staying in one of the holiday cottages. They were nice people, Mum, Dad and three young children, but they didn't act like a family. They'd come down to the harbour and instead of playing with the kids, Mum was constantly messing about with her smart phone while Dad was busy on his laptop, presumably working, and that's like having no life worth talking about. One day they'll suddenly realise that their little kids have finished with school, done University and flown the nest. Then they'll think to themselves, 'What happened? We missed the kids growing up', drift into retirement with no fond memories of happy family holidays spent enjoying their children's formative years.
I don't have a Master Plan but if I did, such a set of circumstances definitely wouldn't be a part of it."
Aruno looked thoughtful. "I never knew that, but when I came to England and the aeroplane came in to land, it was late in the evening and I wondered why most of the big buildings still had lights at the windows and so many cars on the streets. I thought that everyone would be in their houses by then?"
"In times past that would've been the normal practice, but not these days. Personally I blame the internet and the availability of instant communication. Mum used to tell me that mobile phones used to be the preserve of Yuppies, pretentious young and up-coming executives. They couldn't afford to make calls on them – far too expensive, but they used them as a badge to indicate to the proletariat that they were better than them but now, it's seen as a necessity, the ability to contact people at any time, day or night, and to switch them off is almost like committing a crime because if your boss suffers from insomnia and tries to call you at three in the morning, send you and email or whatever, you're not there to do his bidding.
We used to get visits from all the telecomm companies trying to persuade us to install free Wi-Fi on the promise that it would boost trade. We didn't, and have no intention of doing so in the future. We have our own private facility, but otherwise the pub is a Wi-Fi-free zone. We're all about beer and conversation, not somewhere where stressed out business people can come and carry on working when they're on holiday?"
"You paint a very bad picture of life here. Is that how it will always be?"
"Ha! Probably – either that or it'll get worse. I read somewhere that because technology is advancing so rapidly……"
"I don't understand."
"Sorry. Let me give you an example.
You see my phone? This little device has the computing power akin to something that twenty years ago, was so big that you'd need a sizable desk to sit it on, and what's more, this phone has more functions, it's faster and less prone to packing up on you, it's cheap to buy, a hundred times easier to operate, so my point, or rather the point that whoever wrote that article was trying to get across, is that things like my phone will become so tiny that he reckoned that in the not-too distant future, when a baby is born, a microscopic device would be implanted into its brain so all communications can be streamed directly to the recipient, whether they like it or not. Schools will become a thing of the past, verbal communication will be unnecessary and so the list goes on.
Can you imagine working behind the bar at the Nelson, a customer walks in and because of technology, he can Access you and place his order without even opening his gob?
It's like a post-apocalyptic, Orwellian nightmare!"
"We go to Brazil and my village!"
"Yes we will, and hide away from the world outside, hoping we die before technology finds us! I just love that idea!"
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