The Ancient Mariner
Position 03:49.977S 032:24.374W Fernando de Noronha
Date: 4 December 2012
The Ancient Mariner
We’ve been a bit busy the last couple of days hence the lack of blogs. This blog was written on 4 December
Today, Lawrence Elfinstone Wells is 70 years old. No, I’ve not got that wrong – 70. I thought that when you got to that age you were barely capable of breathing, but that’s what it says in his passport.
Normally I discourage birthday celebrations on board: if allowed to get out of hand the crew tend to have far more fun than is good for them, and it takes the attention away from me. But I hadn’t reckoned on The Pro. Sally, as you will by now have gathered, is completely obsessive and once she had latched on to this “event” there was no stopping her. Honestly, she couldn’t have been more excited if it were her own 40th birthday (now that really WOULD be a remarkable event). For days now I have been subjected to numerous conspiratorial questions and ideas, all conducted in a whisper, about presents, hand-made cards and, of course, The Birthday Cake. She had deviously gleaned from Lawrence that he was partial to lemon drizzle cake, so yesterday evening, whilst Lawrence was locked in his cabin during his off-watch as usual, there was frenzied activity in the galley as the cake was mixed and baked.
You can imagine my horror when I discovered that for this damned cake she had used all of the sugar reserved for the caipirinhas. If she can’t buy some in Fernando de Noronha, there’ll be hell to pay.
“We’ll have to hide the cake somewhere where Lawrence won’t see it. What about your cabin?” said The Pro. All the draws and cupboards in my palatial Master Suite are full of my own personal supply of whisky, so I said “I know, I’ll stick it in my head”. Sally went ashen-faced and started shaking. “Not in your loo” she whispered. A little louder she repeated “NOT in your loo” and then she shrieked “NOT IN YOUR LOO”. God knows what Lawrence must have thought the conversation was about. Sally really must get a grip on her paranoia about this hygiene nonsense. What could possibly be the problem of putting the wretched cake in my loo for a few hours? In the event, we hid the cake back in the oven. Lawrence would never find it there. Despite having sailed the best part of 10,000 miles on Mina2, I doubt if he even knows we have an oven.
The celebrations actually started at 2100 the evening before (midnight UK time) when I was made to feel obliged to sacrifice the last of my Balvenie Doublewood malt whisky to drink Lawrence’s health whilst music blared out from the speakers of every song on Sally’s copious iPod with the word “birthday” in it.
We arrived at the anchorage at 0600 and our anchor nip on this occasion was the finest champagne generously supplied by the management, and again another round of singing “Happy Birthday” and “For He’s Jolly Good Fellow”. We then had an hour’s much-needed kip before the day proper began.
Lawrence’s day started as usual with 50 press-ups and 100 crunches before taking his tanned and bulging pecs off to the beach for a 4-mile run. This may be one of the reasons why he doesn’t exactly appear to be 70. He returned to a Full English breakfast of fried eggs, British bacon, sausages and tomatoes, all laid on a bed of potato rosti (it was meant to be sautéed potatoes, but something went wrong in the par-boiling department). We then had the palaver of the present and card opening
and the adornment of my saloon with a glittery banner provided by Lawrence’s daughter, Keely, saying “Happy Birthday – 70 year old”. Later in the day, after exploring the island of Fernando do Noronha, we returned to the boat for the ceremonial unveiling of The Cake complete with two candles in the shape of “70”. Larry was absolutely thrilled.
Future blogs will give details of what we’ve been up to in our fleeting visit to Fernando do Noronha