April, fool : a post for FB Boring Stories
I haven’t written much on Facebook “Boring Stories” group recently, partly because I felt that actually writing a story would inevitably make the desperately dull somewhat more interesting. It’s a valid point - if it’s a “story” then at least it has a start and an end, so it isn’t as dull as it might be, see? But I’m not here to tie us all up in existential self-doubt.
I suppose i’ve also been wary of posting much on Boring Stories because of the tendency to talk about biscuits, and that’s a slippery slope. I’m on a boat, see, and in late November last year I sailed it from Canaries (again) to the Caribbean (again) to avoid the cold European weather. Actually, there’s a bit of logic in us all doing this, like what the birds do with their clever migrating trick: in mid June in the UK the sun manages to be overhead at 23degrees north of the Equator, so subtracting that from the 50degrees north of the UK latitude means the sun is just 27degrees off the hottest-possible exactly overhead in UK mid-June. Whereas, here in the Carib I’m at 18 degrees north but in winter the sun is up to 23 degrees south of the Equator, so adding the 18 and the 23 means er 40 degrees, not so intense as UK summer. But the sea temperature is higher so it feels warmer of course. There again, I’ve had a streaming cold the last few days and used a whole kitchen roll or maybe two, just on sniffling. But I’m not here to do bad calculations on local climate conditions nor to recommend seasonal migration.
I skimmed over the biscuits didn’t I? Thing is, it’s perfectly allowed (and “good seamanship’) to buy an absolute ton of food if you’re on a boat, because it isn’t called panic buying or anything horrid - it’s “provisioning”. So I can bluntly rebutt anyone in a supermarket - with “I’m on a boat, okay?” and they kindof Oh Right see that as a valid excuse for clearing the shelf of any particular item I fancy. It’s in precisely this way that “provisioning” often (actually, almost always) leads to buying a load of biscuits (and other things) which of course leads to eating the lot in a few days, rather than the few weeks as normally anticipated by the word “provisioning”. But I didn’t start this to rattle on about buying and eating supermarket food, even though that’s my (our?) primary occupation.
The boat is anchored at the island of St Martin. Lots of these eastern Caribbean islands used to be super-valuable cos they could grow sugar cane, and tobacco. But after a few hundred years of that, they discovered they could grow sugar beet in places like Cambridgeshire, which is handier and cheaper, and (aside from to city of Cambridge, perhaps) has made the Cambridgeshire countryside reassuringly boring ever since.
They never grew much if any sugar on St Martin because the mountains aren’t high enough to make it rain, like what it does a lot in (say) Martinique or Guadeloupe, or even Antigua I think has more rainfall, and maybe they couldn’t be bothered. Instead of fighting over the island, the French and Dutch about Oh a hundred years ago or so decided to share it, so it’s like that. It would be more Brit-style to have a fight and be either French OR Dutch, but I suppose they’re much better at agreeing a dividing line than Brits.
The first lockdown in 2020 was Fairly Strictly Enforced in St Martin, but you were allowed to deliver food to other quarantining boats which got summarily dismissed from some islands (Puerto Rico, Cuba) and which then washed up in St Martin, so I did loads of visiting around. But they never had any on/off okey-kokey lockdowns after that. The airport etc has been open since way before I arrived in December - get a test, submit the email on-line before the flight, all fine. So you can detect any new visitors who march around wearing masks for their first day, whereas not many locals do too much of that, except in Very Indoors places like supermarkets. But the hairdressers (for example) have all been open, although I’ve only been the once since I arrived here Christmas Eve. I specially arrived on the French side on Christmas Eve to ensure that they’d be Oh Whatever about checking in, so I just typed on a computer all the boat details as normal, show passport and all fine. I’d already had a test in Martinique, and alone on the boat, well, not much chance of catching or transmitting any disease. Zero, actually.
There’s Cruise Ships anchored off the islands with nothing to do … although many ex-crew some of whom now just hang around in bars all day said that when they have almost 4,000 people on a Cruise Ship, it’s perfectly normal for at least one to die in a one-week Caribbean Cruise, especially since the average age of Cruise Ship types is Quite Old. Hum. I read the BBC website and mostly it seems now be be Football and Boring Coronavirus Statistics such as “20% of people unfit for work after the vaccine” … which was at a time when they were vaccinating over 70-year-olds so er, that means 80% ARE “fit for work” after a vaccine … which is Quite Good for that age group, no? Whatever. Likewise the fear of overwhelming the NHS … which google sez has at least 1,250 hospitals, so of the 450,000 hospital cases in the last year … although it sounds Huge Number… it’s actually an average of one C-19 admission per day, per hospital, for this past year (365days x 1250hospitals = 456,000) …but I didn’t come here to peddle more flippin Coronavirus stats.
I’m mainly dithering about Where To Park The Boat. It’s a similar thing with a house - if you just nip out now and again it’s fine to leave the house locked and unatttended - but what if you wanted to leave the house for a few months? Hm. You’d have to organise someone to kinda keep an eye on things, maybe move the post and mow the grass to keep it looking occupied and that sort of thing. Same with a boat, but worse due to the fact that it’s not quite so solid as a house and could sink or whatever. Thing is, I kinda planned to park and leave it for a few months and go to UK …. but I can’t leave the thing here with risky hurricane-ish weather due July -October. Hmm.
Also, there’s all these worldwide lockdowns to consider. Trinidad frexample is an island *just* north of South America about 500 miles south of here and handily hurricane-safe. The Trinidad govt shut their borders over a year ago - and not re-opened them since. Cargo ships can dock and load/unload but no actual visitors, no ferries, no flights. More to the point, there’s no way I can sail up there and gettem to haul the boat ashore like they very much USED to do and woosh, flight to Europe. The island of Grenada is just 100miles north of Trinidad and they *do* have places to park … but meh, they could suddenly lock it down again? Well, I dunno. Grenada isn’t as hurricane-safe, not quite.
So it’s looking kinda likely that I might sail the boat back to the Canaries, which is weatherwise-safe all year round and Spain, yerknow, they’ll be fine about it. Except… there’s the issue of getting crew for a 3,000mile trip, and that’s another flippin complex issue, or it can be. So in anticipation of sailing the boat alone I’ve installed a Massive Loud Alarm, which means that if anything comes close (which would trigger the radar) it’ll Definitely wake me up. The alarm is beyond earsplitting, way above whatever a domestic hifi or any car horn can produce. I’ve also changed the always-broadcasting ID (called AIS) of the boat to be “Mojo Solo Sailor” instead of just “Mojo” so if/when any ships (they’re big and metal, ooer) see me, they’ll be more likely to steer clear. I think?
Most importantly for Boring Stories of course - is any of this boring? I say, most definitely Yes, and the pic illustrates this quite wonderfully. The boat is sailing along in the middle of the Atlantic which I bet you think would be all hanging on and scary as hell. Hum, not much it ain’t - the sea is flat to the horizon and for 1000 miles in all directions. It can get utterly “millpondy” on the return trip to Europe - like no sea ever is in the Uk - because the temperature is the same for miles, so no air movement whatsoever. You never see this in any films of course - the film director makes sure that all pix of the sea are crashity argh, waves, storms and suitably hellish. But the truth is rather different: in the same way as you would go on holiday in the nicest gentle weather (say, June/July in the UK) well, the same applies on a boat in the Atlantic. The very best ( calmest, least stormy) time to cross the Atlantic west to east is May-June, and I’ll likely need a load of fuel cos there’s lots of time with no wind at all.
The pic ALSO shows the lines all nicely curled up like “snails” which is called “Flemishing” and things have to be very boring indeed for me to do this, like (say) sorting underwear or socks. Or biscuits?
I’ll post this to the boat blog which you can find on the mailasail server as “Catmojo” as well, but that’s prolly not so boring and nor is my new Cowborghini website, although writing website software and checking the spelling - yep, that’s boring too.