This morning was misty and still, Micalvi’s grey decks damp. At 8.30 I went up to Captain de Puerto to get a zarpa for our next Beagle Channel trip with Ian, Rosie and Jenny.
The 11 year old Armada officer interposed into my paperwork phone calls with his girlfriend, a nail manicure and languid conversations with colleagues. I tried to look respectful, in urgent need of attention, not at all impatient, male, very dignified and senior. But what should have been a 10 minute process dragged out to an hour and a half. He was not sullen and there was no hint of animosity between us – we joked, shook hands and so forth – but he was impervious to a body language which I have honed to perfection over 60 years. Is this chasm cultural, ethnic or age-related? I wondered whether his behaviour was medication-induced. If I identify the drug I could bring some back for Chris.
Puerto Williams was still asleep as I walked back past the grazing horses. Optimistic about what lay ahead I imagined the fresh-brewed coffee, the tidied cabin and the shallots Ian would be snipping into Rosie’s beautifully cooked scrambled eggs. Alas poor Tainui was still comatose – dark, messy and forlorn – reveberating with loud snores. So I drank my 3 coffees and after a Micalvi Dump (normal stools in a loose toilet) I settled down to wait.
We had had a smooth 8 knot trip down late yesterday. Jenny steered to stave off mal de mer. Why should something so lovely make you sick she asked – it is as unfair as Beethoven’s deafness. Meanwhile Rosie did a fine vegetable soup and Ian bumbled around as only Ian can.
Down the Beagle we marvelled at the flag trees (arborales bandera), whose warped growth leave no doubt as to the prevailing wind direction hereabouts. By dusk we were at Banco Herradurah with an epiphanal sunset over Cordillera Darwin.
The girls are both down below reading. How I love them. In Ushuaia they had thumped and clomped their way onto the boat and within minutes their possessions, toiletries and detritus were spread from one end to the other. Ian settled into the fore cabin so he could begin losing his belongings. Rosie refused to sleep with that bitch Jenny and bagsed the shelf berth. I was left to wedge in beside the saloon table while Jenny luxuriated in the aft stateroom. I spent the night thinking of best laid plans, wondering how this sort of apportionment eventuates. I thought of Chris, another steamrolleree.
But the following day Rosie was back aft with Jen in the big bed and I had been granted the shelf berth. Today as we motor back from Puerto Williams towards Caleta Eugenio they are up in the cockpit joking and giggling together, while Ian searches for lost belongings. We have no wind, which is great.
We’ve just passed Caleta Mejillones and as I look across to the Yaghan cementario on the hillside I recall with pleasure my time in the Beagle Channel with Chris.
Ian is reading Dallas Murphy, Rosie is devouring the latest Isobel Carmody while Jen is reading some feminist propaganda tract. They brought me 2 more Prousts, each thicker than the last one, God help me.