« The Library Of Birmingham | Main | In Prison And Ye Came Unto Me »

Donkin's World: Rock And Roll

...Iím remembering how and why I began to enjoy sailing. It was never love at first jibe. A night watch was spent surrounded by lightening scratching its neon graffiti all around like Piccadilly Circus on amphetamines. I cannot see such displays at home, more startling than any Bonfire Night show.

We caught Dorado, watched dolphins, saw a turtle, chewed the fat, put up sails, took them down. It was a good trip...

Richard Donkin goes sailing in the Med.

Itís October, working season, the party conferences spent, courts in session, schools grinding through the autumn term. The Mediterranean too has a hunkered, end-of-season feel, the sun hazing at intervals through mottled duck-egg skies.

The rock of Gibraltar, stunted through the erosion of empire, resembles the worn tooth of a lion that has lost its roar. Gibraltarís cafes cling to their egg-and-chip lunches and all-day breakfasts as if this enclave of empire is determined to remain a transport cafť for Britons abroad, Worcester sauce and ketchup, sod the paella. They should bring Alex Salmond here to count the Union Jacks draping every street.

I flew in by EasyJet and left on a hard boat; well not so hard but I always take time to adapt when Iím free of the land. Shedding the familiar and adjusting to a pattern of living demanded by guiding a yacht at sea, comes more easily to some than others. For some itís like pulling on a favourite sweater, comforting and welcome. For others - like me - itís more like pulling teeth: constricting, awkward and, I must admit, downright nauseating.

It wasnít all down to the sea. In Gibraltar, drink is cheap so I bought a big bottle of Mount Gay Rum for the boat, with visions of a little snifter every evening as the sun set. But we hit the bars in the evening and back at the yacht the rum was there, beckoning. The bottle was opened, drained. The next day we sailed.

So I was christened the ďgolden blanket manĒ, wedded (or welded) to his bunk, a waste of precious space, a useless passenger, of limited entertainment value. I was more lackluster than human wreck on the first leg to Ibiza. We had sun and a following wind, a day on the island to unwind, eat and take photographs, a day to squabble a bit.

Back at sea, the first of our four days to Malta was grey with lumpy seas and a wind on the nose. The blanket was my glowing friend. All things pass and so did the nausea.

Iíve been spoiled these past few weeks with trips to Nice, Sardinia and Monaco, sailing on superyachts like the Maltese Falcon. No matter where I searched on our yacht, Quokka, I could not find the Jacuzzi or a masseur, well not a willing masseur. But itís a clean boat and stuff gets done in an uncomplicated way. Itís been a while since I sailed as a sailor and longer still since I laid out spinnaker lines or got out of a bunk for a watch.

Just as the seasons change, so we ourselves adapt to change. By the end of day two Iím remembering how and why I began to enjoy sailing. It was never love at first jibe. A night watch was spent surrounded by lightening scratching its neon graffiti all around like Piccadilly Circus on amphetamines. I cannot see such displays at home, more startling than any Bonfire Night show.

We caught Dorado, watched dolphins, saw a turtle, chewed the fat, put up sails, took them down. It was a good trip.

The honeyed sandstone of Valletta, glowing in the autumn sunshine, was a welcome sight when we arrived late in the afternoon. It was good to renew old friendships and make new ones. We donít change much, no more than the sea Ė the odd storm (usually in a tea cup), a bit of chop with calmer interludes. Sailing agonises and surprises. You can get used to anything if you give it time.

Categories

Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.