Ferdinand Magellan and me (41)

falling in love again

What a fool a man is. The fortnightly grocery run to Shoreham had become a habit but I knew it had to end. From Robin’s lawyers there was silence. Was I going to be legally shackled to her forever or was I going to break free? Either way, this was the beginning of the rest of my life and I needed new crew. I don’t believe in single-handed sailing. Apart from being unsafe, it deprives one of the joy of shared experience; the icing on the cake.

I advertised in British yachting magazines but the response was nil. In Sydney I got 152 responses to my ad. No wonder the British Empire has folded, I thought. They have all gone soft. Where are the modern counterparts of those women who set out across the Atlantic in the Mayflower; the ones who tackled the Indian Ocean in Sirius and Supply? What I needed in a crew member was the moral fibre that carved nations out of the American west and the Australian wilderness. I needed a woman who was not going to be cowed by cyclones, cannibals or shipwreck. This was indeed a voyage of rediscovery 500 years after the event.

A few replies had trickled in by next trip and I interviewed one responder in the local pub, the Pilot Arms. She had done a lot of sailing, had survived numerous failed romances and was wondering whether she oughtn’t concentrate on developing a business at her stage in life. She seemed on the point of tears once or twice. She decided to drive back to Lymington to ponder her decision rather than spend the night aboard Clementine.

The second lady I met by arrangement in Brighton. On the telephone she told me I would recognise her by her red hair, and this was definitely so. She had a great bush of it; so much I thought she might risk scalping herself with a winch. Unlike the first lady, this one was full of self-confidence. With only three months’ sailing experience she was ready to tackle the Magellan Strait and planned to buy her own yacht after the voyage. She was so full of enthusiasm she exhausted me.

Arriving back aboard after the meeting with the redhead I found a note from the third prospective crew member: ‘Sorry I missed you.’ I had talked with her two nights before and thought she sounded lukewarm but apparently I had agreed to meet with her. I had no recollection of that. She had waited three hours growing more and more furious. I called her back and we agreed to meet in London on Tuesday. I travelled up by train and she met me on the platform.
Bingo. Instant chemistry. Within half an hour I knew this was the one I wanted. We had dinner and drinks in a wine bar across the road from Victoria station and by the time the place closed it was all I could do to keep my hands off her. She kept saying, “This is amazing. It can’t be happening.” Next morning I called her and she said, “Were we off our heads last night? Was it just the drink?”
No, it wasn’t the drink. Shit, fancy falling in love again at my age. Ridiculous.




falling in love again

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leonidas

Sailor from wayback with a Master's degree in Technology Management. Prefer classical music to rap and chicken curry to steak.

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