Where Next?
Bob Williams
Sun 17 May 2009 18:26
Noon Position: 41 58.7 N 066 50.3 W
Course: Northeast Speed 6 knots
Wind: South, moderate
Weather: Foggy, cool. Sea: slight
Day's Run: 60 miles

It stayed light and foggy overnight so yesterday's run was a little disappointing, still it provided a good opportunity to do a few chores and catch up on some sleep. The wind started to freshen from the south around 4 am but the fog was still thick so I simply unrolled the rest of the jib and returned to the warmth of my bunk. It wasn't until about 8 this morning when I decided it was high time to getting back to the job of keeping an eye out for where we were going, something of an academic exercise in thick fog with no radar, that the mainsail was raised. We are now bowling along, bit between our teeth, at a very pleasant 6 and a bit knots.

I had an interesting dream last night: A couple of young anthropology students were staying with a village in remote Borneo studying their culture for six months. They were typical Australians, i.e. not like me, roguish and likeable and soon the whole village had become very attached to them. It was time for them to return and the elders decided they should initiate them into the village. An elaborate ceremony was got up and the youths were asked to answer the question, are you Malakai or Batapui? Malakai means of the people and Batapui means an outsider (so the dream told me). The youths being somewhat modest answered Batapui, unwilling to call themselves Malakai after such a short time. The villagers were horrified, and an ornately dressed dancer with a handful of small golden spears throws one at the youth which pierces his chest but is not a fatal wound, the dancer sings, "This spear is for the heart", the question is repeated to each youth time and again, but each time they answer Batapui, confused and dismayed that their friends had turned on them., they die.

Meanwhile back in Jakarta at a luxury resort a young maiden form the village is working as a waitress, where some young western people are having a party at the poolside, drinking heavily, boys boisterously jumping in the water, curled up tight in a ball, bombing so as to splash all around them, the girls clad in skimpy bikinis laughing as they are soaked by the cascades . The waitress returns to the bar for another order of molotof cocktails when she notices her feet which have become wet from the young people's antics. The die has run in her shoes and her footprints are leaving a series of marks on the steps, she looks closely at the marks and the souls of her slippers, her left slipper has an echidna embossed on the toe and is leaving a trail of its image in red behind her and on her right toe is a turtle which is leaving a trail of tiny green turtles behind, for some reason the red die having run from her left slipper and the green die from her right. She realises this is a sign from her village and immediately goes to the phone to find out what has happened, And thus the story is broken to the press how two Australian students are killed in a village in Borneo.

The news reporters are enthralled by the story and the misunderstanding and spell it our for all of us the mistake, the correct answer to the question "Who are you?" is Malakai, for you can't kill one of your own.

So the dream in part interpreted itself for me. As for the echidna and turtle, well red and green, left and right, port and starboard, stop and go, a prickly Australian land animal and an ocean roaming marine creature . who knows? Undoubtedly I am both a prickly Australian land animal and a roaming marine creature.

How does the story end I wonder, though no story ever really ends? I imagine a village inundated with western media, their lifestyle destroyed by the outsider; the parents of the students devastated, vengeful maybe, or maybe condescendingly understanding and forgiving, "but such barbaric practices must stop, these people must be educated"; the village maiden chose the money, the red echidna and will live a lonely life isolated from her people and village which she helped to destroy, trying to fit into an alienating and lonely culture which has no unifying meta-narrative to cling to anymore. Too many novels with endings like this around I'd say. Sounds like teenage angst to me, who said I was an Ee-ore?

And who needs DVDs when you can imagine your own stories?

Time 1235: My story nearly ended, just had a close encounter with a trawler, went on deck to have a look around and I heard the unmistakeable low frequency rumble of man-made machinery. I peered into the fog, nothing to be seen, it sounded somewhere off the port side but sounds in fog can be deceptive, especially those in the lower frequencies, I blew my puny lung driven foghorn, knowing this to be a futile gesture unlikely to carry even a short distance yet alone permeate the toughened glass of the air conditioned wheelhouses seaman shelter behind these days. I unlashed the wheel to be ready to respond and moments later a large trawler appeared out of the fog off our port bow. I spun the wheel to port and we bore away under his stern less than 100 meters away. Phew! Now I can hear deep rumbles everywhere, It would have been nice if he had been sounding his foghorn. At least you can hear a trawler, large merchant ships slip silently pass, their machinery buried deep within their bowels, any noise totally deadened by the time it reaches topsides.

We are almost off Georges Bank and into the Northeast Channel so we should have some respite from this particular hazard for about 10 hours or so before we cross Browns Bank.

Bob Cat:

Who is messing around with the weather on this planet? Just as it was getting warm and I was enjoying sunning myself on the patio, I mean sun deck, er, meow-aargh, poop deck, it is getting decidedly cool again and I find it necessary to keep skipper Bob constant company under the sea blanket. Skipper Bob fed me a sardine yesterday, about time too, out of a can but better than the hard tack. You think he could throw a fishing line over the side or something, jaw watering paw licking fresh fish, oh stop torturing myself! Things could be worse, and at some point undoubtedly will become so. I have this theory on global cooling I have been working on since last summer - decidedly cold . I need to sleep on it for a while . Zzzzzz.

All is well.