I need ask, why are all skippers of near derelict boats, such as the “Loch-Ard” named Verne?. And when, at what age and in the name of wisdom, will I ever learn?
In writing his story, I may have given the impression, that I trusted my friend Godfrey without question, mostly I can report that this was true, when one summer he showed up, all excited, “Worzel dear, he cried, “I have planned a lovely Sunday outing for you’. He was an odd young man who disliked the common beet, but would talk of anything else, talk to anyone he would meet.
“I have met a fine chap, said Godfrey, with a sailboat who will take us for a ramble out to sea, there will be seal viewing, and a luncheon buffet, and if we bring beer we do not have to pay”. (My husband, a cowboy disliked waves and spray, we left him mind the luggage shop this day).
It was fine summer, hot and clear, I packed Cordial for Godfrey, and 12 tins of beer. Verne was our age, jolly around as his plump, scruffy boat, tufts of grey hair grew through gaps in the long under wear Verne wore neath coveralls. More underwear hung high, in the rigging with care, whispered Godfrey, “his winter pair”.
Feet bare, Verne happily showed me about, I tried not to look at his greasy bunk crammed in the stern, or his galley of crusty cereal bowls, or all the dead flies, proud of the old “Loch-Ard’ was Verne.
Off down the harbor, past the scenic, towering scrap yard, puttered the sturdy “Loch-Ard”. Godfrey steering, out of hearing, the Skipper drank beer, and gave his tourist spiel. “Oh the old “Loch-Ard”, built her myself, welded from “Baggy- Wrinkle” down to keel, 15 years since we set out from Glascow, meandering where and how we go”.
” Indeed, it was hot, I drained beer number three, I needed to wee, found no toilet on the listing old tub, that crawled at the pace of a snail, no bog, no head, no loo, not so much below as even a pail”. Crackers, cheese and Spam were our luncheon buffet, I had to go in the worst way”.
“After the seal rocks, we cruised up the wide estuary. To net some flounder in the mud flats, Verne informed me, for our tea. We had to wait out the tide, he put tinny music on, “Ragtime Jazz”, I curled up among engine parts I pushed off the boat’s deck to one side”.
I had to go, as “Loch- Ard” bobbed in the swell, every time I tried to squat in the scupper, Verne would toss me up a flounder for our supper. I implored Godfrey, “use your kilt as a drape of privacy”, he did, and at the worst moment, came the laughter of a boat load of passing families, waving to me.” I gave up, and prepared for my bladder to burst, thus ending my misery”.
It got much worse, but I will skip the sad verse, more waves from old men as we passed neath the cliffs below a golf course. So bad I near cried, when Godfrey, in his gentle way, offered to toss me over the side. “Pretend to fall overboard so you can pee, no one will see, Verne is now deep into the Sherry”. “So I did, Godfrey was not wrong, Verne was singing, did not even notice I was gone.”
Verne sang, “Oh I married a fine girl from Isle of Man, that makes us Manganese.’ “I bought her a silk dress and a donkey cart, the two of us do as we please.
“I bought her a fine set of fishing gear, built her a cottage of stone, with a big strong privy round the back. She goes there to be alone….
The singing was awful, the timing all wrong, Godfrey pulled me out by the scruff of my pants, and insisted on singing along. Homeward we finally sailed, Verne now passed out, Godfrey steering by the first evening star, I was still soaking wet, and a Pelican or more, had shat all over the car.
“Couples passed, enjoying romantic strolls, two nuns laughed, holding fishing poles, Godfrey reminded me, of “The Wisdom Inherent Of Not Drinking Beer At Sea”. “I lectured him back on Boats Without Toilets And The Folly Of Thinking A Day Out On One For Free”.
“It’s the closest we ever came to a quarrel, as with tufts of grass, scraped Pelican shice from the windshield glass”. “The Pelican crap was sun baked on, with no hose to spray it down, Godfrey hung out the window as I drove, directing us slowly through town”. “Even he was quiet that night, sun and wind burnt we were, smelly is Pelican shite.
“I fumed the nasty drive home, sulked in the bath till the water was cold, declined the stuffed Flounder brought to me in the tub, with a rose on the tray”. “But I’d take it all back, the time wasted, angry and moping, for a chance to reclaim laughter lost, a chance to relive that day”…
“Summers are just that, and soon like this one, like all do it wafted away”. As did the “Loch-Ard”, Verne was reported heard singing, heading out, harbor down, southbound”. “long may the sea you love tickle your stern, may you always be free, “Loch-Ard’ and Verne. “And if , by chance one day return if you do…I only hope you have installed a ship’s loo. “I envision the “Loch-Ard”, snug at anchor in a sweet, sheltered bay, grimy old Verne singing, fixing her up as he goes on his way..