Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Day 286: Man Over Board (14/08/2012)

We emerged, one by one from our cabins, some wheezing, others coughing like old miners.

Seagulls flying over the quay stones died were they fell; the withered fronds of palm trees rasped in the early morning breeze. The sea ran red; the sound of wailing rose above the roof tops as Trogir's first born succumbed.

The toxic slick emanating from the town quay sewage outfall was the last and greatest of the plagues; a curse of biblical proportions, that fell alike on the heads of the just, unjust and the just back from the nightclub.

There was nothing for it but to weigh anchor and scuttle away from the horror as fast as a 21 bhp engine could move an 8 tonne yacht.

By the time we had gybed into the channel between Hvar and Brac, our eyes had finally stopped watering. The brown cloud that hung low over the distant spires of Trogir's old town had been swallowed by the receding hills. The land to the south was cracked and bare; a series of longitudinal scars, unhealed after a hundred million years of geological torment. By contrast, to the north there was an abundance of olive groves tumbling down the hillsides, nestling amongst a riot of greenery.

The ever-present risk that the morning breezes would send the throat-clenching stench-beast in pursuit, was too much for some. Mid-channel, John could stand the tension no longer and threw himself overboard. As he disappeared beneath the wake with alarming speed, the 'man-over-board' cry went up. The drill limped into action.

To be fair, in their own way, everyone took it very seriously.

Apparently unaware of John's immediate need for added buoyancy, Simon rifled the lockers and began to hurl crockery at him. Ever the stalwart in a crisis, Adrian even looked up from his copy of 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. Only Jess had the presence of mind to watch John's fast receding form. She pointed in his general direction until long after his wave swamped form had dwindled to the occasional glimpse of a raised hand.

The revs surged, the wheel turned and after a brief meeting of the rescue sub-committee over a pot of tea and some cucumber sandwiches, it was resolved (albeit by a small margin) that John should, in fact, be retrieved. We drew close and studiously ignoring the perils of the whizzing propeller, hauled him back on board for a severe telling off. In the absence of a naughty step, John had some quiet time on the bathing step to think about what he had done, while we rounded the Lascatna headland and into the deep recess of Luka Bay.

After an hour or two of splashing about in the turquoise water, we ate a dinner in the cockpit, comprised of one part watermelon to nine parts Tequila. Food turned to drink and drink to raucous misbehaviour, a description of which has no place in an august journal such as this.

Unsatisfied with his earlier unscheduled but sober aquatic wanderings, John donned his flippers and pitched into the now oily blackness lapping against the hull, with no prospect of rescue if things went wrong. His curiosity had been peeked by the phosphorescence in the flushing toilet bowl. As we satisfied ourselves with stirring the water with an oar, he generated a light show with his flippers normally reserved for Industrial Light and Magic.

Imagine, if you will, the Millenium Falcon entering hyper-drive. There is no better description of the breath-taking beauty of a billion tiny flashing organisms creating a trail of light in the complete blackness of an Adriatic lagoon.

When the submarine display was over, we lay on our backs and watched first the International Space Station and then the tail end of the Leonid Shower light up the heavens over head.

You can count moments like these on the fingers of one hand.

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