Dirk, Maxine and the split infinitive

We left Yaroslavl at about 8pm. The evening is warm, calm. The river is almost a mile wide and is a serious waterway. We have a steady 1 knot current with us. Pleasing because we keep engine revs down to 1300 rpm to minimise coolant loss. 


IMG_3471I should say something about Dirk. At the moment he is steering and clearly enjoying himself although he would deny it stridently. When he joined Tainui Dirk was anxious about all our cabalistic nautical jiggery-pokey. In Cherepovets I put him on the helm and he agreed reluctantly to try steering but insisted that he would only drive in a straight line and was not prepared to turn the wheel. That is for mariners, he would say.

IMG_3448Now he navigates, checking off the numbered buoys on the chart while humming tunelessly to himself.  He has mastered the clove hitch and insisted I dig out my old sextant for a lesson on sperical trigonometry. He is ridiculously tall but has managed to jack-knife his angular frame into Tainui’s unforgiving interstices with – well, with a semblance of efficiency if not grace.

Little Miss Perfect is very relieved that Dirk hasn’t mutinied and fled, although he does go on about staying “just until the next train station”. They are a delightful, odd-ball couple who make Tainui a happy ship. Conversation and laughter flow easily.

Dirk is intrigued by my sister’s small but powerful International Society for the Preservation of the Subjunctive (membership currently 3) and may well qualify for junior associate trainee status in time. I am thinking about that.

Even Maxine, argumentative pedant that she is, has started attacking this tired and overworked skipper’s rare grammatical solecisms with a triumphant “ney, ney John, split infinitive!” when I ask her to quickly take in a stern spring.

It is all very wearing.

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