Sunday, April 06, 2014

Shipwreck
by
Jane Seatter

Even climbing on to the rocks from the heaving vessel was a relief. Even knowing that doing this could be a danger in itself and watching in slow motion as my foot tangled with the rope and thinking that I could be dragged under the boat if my foot was not freed and carefully working out which way to move it to free it – even that was better than bracing myself against the list of the boat and listening to the ragged sails flapping and hearing myself swearing over and over to try and combat the tension and fear I felt. Anger had had me in its grip for so long that I could not rid myself of it. Anger with the elements and the lack of control we mere mortals have over our fate when weather forecasts do not run true to form and we are tossed about like small peas in a walnut shell.
The wind shrieked and moaned without any letup. I climbed over the mussel-covered rocks with blood running down my legs as I searched for a place which might allow us some degree of shelter.
The woman from the other boat followed me saying about her husband, oh poor him and our poor boats and at least we are all alive.
I said fuck the boats, may they sink and yes, we are all alive.
She was cold to the marrow and her husband brought some clothes he had salvaged off the beaten-about boat and they changed. He went back to the other men and they examined and talked and worked out strategies while I drew her close to me for bodily warmth and to ease her shock for their boat had fared worse than ours.
I was angry but at the same time we laughed and made silly jokes which is the way of humans when the pressure has been too great. He went off in our boat because the motor still worked. He was going for help, he said and suggested we climb up over the rocks where he could maybe pick us up. But they didn't want to leave their boat so the other man and I clambered round trying to find a way out but there was another cliff and we had to go back.
He passed us, waving and disappeared round the headland with the torn sails now under control; but as it turned out, it took him several hours to reach his destination.
A keeler motored back and forth and back and forth well clear of the rocks. We could hear shouting but not what they were saying because of the bloody wind but soon after we saw the lifeguard vessel approaching.
We were told to get on the damaged boat and I didn't want to. It was a fragile little craft and the weather still menacing. Also the boat was still banging and scraping on the rocks telling us of the danger and our weakness. But I did as I was told with an impassive face for at all cost one must never be a problem to others. The other man tied on the tow rope which had been flung to us and we pushed our way clear of the rocks which seemed reluctant to let us go and we were off.
Water gushed through the carpet of the cabin every six seconds (I timed it) and the other man baled it out with a blue bucket and I thought it is fitting it is a blue bucket on a blue boat and it is a pity that the sky isn't blue as it was supposed to be and all this crap wouldn't have come about; because I couldn't get rid of the anger, you see. 
At the jetty there were lots of people and oohs and aahs and offers to stem bleeding but I needed to be at home. Somebody drove me because I didn't look fit to drive. The spare key was in its place and once I was safely inside I allowed myself to cry. I lit the fire and cuddled my dog and after a while the dog's snuffly noises and licks dried my tears and a neighbour arrived with a bottle of wine. Together we drank the bottle dry and smoked cigarettes. But it was many days before the anger left me and I was able to tell you all about it without my ears ringing.

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