by Andrew Foote
I suppose it was because I'd become used to my time being occupied either working at the pub or messing about on the boat, but now life seemed to drag.
I'd taken to driving up across the fields, pitching my tent and star-gazing, something I hadn't done very much of since Aruno came into my life.
He'd come with me even though I didn't think he was particularly interested and most of the time he'd read. His only comment was, that in his village, the skies were even clearer than here and maybe there would be more to see.
Our time spent together was something very special, both on and off the boat. We had gelled in a way many couples would be envious of but it's worth mentioning that neither was it all wall-to-wall sex.
I was, and probably never will be what you might call a Sexual Animal but when it happened? Our GOD! Was it ever good, and afterwards, just holding each other close, his smiles told their own story and I absolutely adored him!
Christmas and New Year came and went. West Country never did shut the pub completely, rather they opted for the sensible approach and made such alterations they thought necessary whilst working around people. We didn't go up there very much, I think I felt like I'd be made to feel unwelcome but that wasn't how it was and the Manager, a youngish man, made us feel very welcome and with the added bonus of catching up with our old regulars.
The Watershed moment happened on January 6th . Not that I expected to find anything, but directly after breakfast, I checked my emails and BINGO. A message from one of the big shipping agents in Harwich.
I asked Aruno to wake Cathy and Rob and when they could, meet us on Conqueror's mess deck and then once we had gathered, I read it to them.
"This might be the news we've been waiting to hear. It isn't perfect, in fact there are bits of it I'm unsure about but here goes.
"So, decision time guys?
As I see it, the price is unbelievably cheap. €1000 each is what, £750 apiece? And you have to remember just how far that takes us.
Brownsville, if my memory isn't too addled, is about as far South East you can get in the US without tripping over and finding yourself in Mexico.
Downside? We have to cross the North Sea to get our ride."
Thoughtful looks all round, but then Rob spoke up. "Sounds good to me.
Okay? Not as good as picking something up in Bristol or Cardiff but what the hell. We'll have to sit down and plan stop-overs – Lowestoft might be a good place to get to before tackling the North Sea, but in the round? This gets my vote. I'm fed up with waiting about."
I turned to Cathy. "And what about you Cath?"
"Yeah…… If we don't go now, I might just bottle it. Let's do it!"
Finally, I looked at Aruno. "Go on then? How do you feel?"
"If you go, I go, I will be with you, wherever it may be.
We go Mimi-cu, we go!"
A dream was fast becoming reality and suddenly I could think of all sorts of reasons not to go.
Doubts about my abilities maybe? A contributing factor I suppose, but then I was tried and tested, accredited if not that experienced but still, going across the North Sea in February or March wasn't something I felt okay with. Oh well, I'd burnt my bridges what with selling the pub, so short of upping sticks and moving to somewhere I could find paid employment, my options were closed.
We got together to decide on stop-overs. Penzance first as we would need fuel and the use of sanitary facilities, then Weymouth and on to Cowes. From here things got a bit messy. This stretch of coast was mostly given over to holiday resorts meaning fuel stops were few and far between, so rather than taking any undue risks, we decided to buy some heavy duty fuel containers which we could strap to the decks together with an electric diaphragm pump. This extra capacity would allow us to do the relatively long hop to Folkestone, an overnight there then onwards to Felixstowe and Lowestoft.
We ordered the containers and pump online to be delivered to the harbour office in Penzance, then I penned an email to the shipping Company to confirm our intentions.
Cathy and Aruno left to see their Mum and Dad while I phoned my Mum to tell her that we would be leaving on the ebb tide at 11am on Thursday, two days hence.
That afternoon, I think Rob and I checked and double-checked just about everything on board, from engine mounts to fire extinguishers to the standing rigging, then we swapped boats and rechecked each other's work. Nothing was left to chance and while we weren't bothered about the English Channel, the North Sea could be a pig this time of the year and hitting problems due to neglect during that crossing would be unforgivable.
Wednesday rolled around and our online provision shop arrived, so while Aruno and Cath set about the task of stowing it away, Rob and I took a look at all the alcoholic drinks we'd taken when we'd left the Nelson.
This we divided equally between the two boats then typed up lists of what we had together with mess tabs for when we were outside of the three-mile limit.
Before leaving Lowestoft, we would have to get it inspected by the Customs people who would then put it into bond, only to be opened once outside this limit then re-inspected at Rotterdam where any discrepancy would have to be accounted for.
Crazy really. I thought we were still in the EU?
I didn't sleep well Wednesday night although Aruno hardly stirred the entire time. I would've got up but he was wrapped around me tightly keeping me warm and……very aroused! Waking him wouldn't have been fair and besides, I was wallowing in the love that he felt inside for me, but on a practical note, at least he would be fresh enough to do the first leg to Penzance!
At last Thursday morning broke, our hour had come and all of us with the exception of Aruno were very emotional. Cathy openly cried, which had both Rob and me reaching for the tissues whereas Aruno looked radiant.
"You're taking me home Mimi-cu, just as was foretold over two hundred summers ago. No tears now. Miss your country, miss your old life, but it is time to embrace your new one!"
"Will we be happy?"
"I only know what I have already told you except that he who was once an Outsider, leaves the village together with the medicine woman, then returns with his family and his consort. Later, he becomes the leader of the elders, the village prospers, offspring of his family are accepted as elders in their own right, are taught the traditions of the village and the Consort? He is revered above all people until he dies, as all men do.
At that time, his body is carried to the highest point of Issalla, a high mountain, where he is burned with high honours and his ashes scattered to the four winds, his spirit free to wander once again."
"Is that it? What about you?"
"Yes, there's more, but for now? I will not tell you."
"Is it bad though?"
"No, not bad…… just destiny…… my destiny.
Please don't be frightened Mimi-cu? We live long lives together and as for happiness? You have money enough to come back and live in England, but you don't and neither do Cathy and Rob except for short visits, and even then we'll all be together, so my understanding is that love and happiness follow us…… all of us."
"Then nothing else matters."
I looked as Rob hung the British Ensign on the stern of the Marion S then up to her standing rigging as Cathy hoisted four others, the Union flag, the Cornish flag, the flag of St George and finally, the Brazilian flag, so rather than allowing myself to get too weepy, I had Aruno go below and get the main engine powered up together with the port generator while I copied their example with the flags.
A small crowd of well-wishers had gathered on the harbour wall, amongst them were Cathy and Aruno's parents but then I heard the radio.
"Time to pull out Simeon?"
"I guess so. Who's leading?"
"You leave first. I think it would be right that way."
Aruno made as if to go forward and release us from the mooring buoy but I stopped him short.
"You take her out please."
"Yes. You came to a strange village on my boat as a passenger, probably nervous and apprehensive of the future. Now you will leave on a journey towards your home and your destiny, not as a passenger, but as Conqueror's skipper."
Aruno beamed at me, and for the first time that I could remember, there were tears in his eyes.
"Thank you Mimi-cu!
It is time, so please release forward."
As we eased our way towards the harbour mouth, I called Cath on the radio.
"Come alongside us Cath. Let's leave together."
We exited the harbour side by side and once clear, both of us sounded our horns for ten seconds sending flocks of gulls into the air as a farewell to the last two serious sized boats ever again to work out of Tresgillith.
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