"Arctracer" Letters

Update 5 - At Sea 25 February 2013

Hello from the sea!

We left St. Helena on Thursday, February 21 at 11am. We are en route to Ascension Island and are making pretty good time.

Noon locations...
Thursday 2/21: 15 deg 52' S, 5 deg 47' W
Friday 2/22: 14 deg 24' S, 7 deg 26' W
Saturday 2/23: 12 deg 57' S, 8 deg 56' W
Sunday 2/24 at 7am: 11 deg 30' S, 10 deg 33' W

I was super seasick for the first day and once there was nothing left in my system to get out, I slept for 17 hours. Now I'm well enough to eat macaroni on occasion and type out this email a little bit at a time!

I was going to sum up the following story in a couple sentences, but thought it was amusing enough for more... I mentioned I would take an opportunity to see Jamestown at night with a local, right? Well, I did.

I was a sailor and it was my last night on leave.

On Wednesday afternoon I took what was to be my last ferry ride from the island to Arctracer. As I rode, I walked to the front to pay Stephen the Ferry Driver my fare.

Stephen: When are you leaving?
Me: Tomorrow.
Stephen: You have to come back to the island once more before you go.
Me: How will I do that?
Stephen: I'll pick you up.
Me: Ok.

When he dropped me off at "Arctracer," he asked Mom permission to take me out. Permission was granted. He told me he'd pick me up at 6:30 and to bring my "swim clothes". I smiled and said ok, but inside I panicked. Putting on a swimsuit is nearly as frightening as sailing across an ocean. I manage to do it on occasion, but...

He fetched me by ferry at 6:30 and said to my mother jokingly "I'll have her back in the morning!" She shook her head and he said "I'll have her back by 10pm."

On our way to the dock he asked me if I had a boyfriend. I said no, I have a husband. "You're married?" Yes. Pause. "Happily married?" Yes. I'd been slightly worried that he'd be grumpy about it, but he wasn't. It was quickly determined that we could enjoy each other's company for a few hours without this being an actual date.

We got in his car and our first stop was his Auntie's house, where he lives. He almost forgot to take his boots off before going in. She would kill him, he told me as he ran back to the car to change into his flip flops. I sat with his Auntie Iva for a few minutes at the dining room table while he put away a fresh fish he had just cleaned and grabbed his swim clothes.

I could tell Iva took pride in her home. There were bowls of fresh fruit on the table (not easy to come by), as well as boxes of chocolates. She was an animal lover, which was clear from the stuffed animals, statues, photos, paintings, etc. on the floor, sofa, walls, etc. I asked her if she had any pets. Her face lit up as she told me about her three yorkies, which were upstairs. I looked at her photos of her kids and grandkids. She took my hands in hers and made sure I liked St. Helena and that I would return. I had won her approval and didn't have the heart to tell her I wasn't on a date with her beloved nephew.

Our next stop was the town pool, which was open late and buzzing with locals. As we walked up to the entrance, there was a chorus of hoots and hollers and "Stevie!" Everyone in town knew "Stevie" and everyone in town seemed to be at the pool. Self-conscious me briefly remembered the film Dogfight and wondered if I was a joke. Stephen told me to pay them no mind and that they were just giving him a hard time.

We went to the changing rooms and when I came out in my bathing suit, Stephen leaned back, looked at my bum, and said "You should have worn shorts."

Some of you just gasped in horror, yes? To you ladies I say "I know, right?!"

In my 39 years, though, I've learned that if a man says something you can't imagine any man would ever say to any woman, he probably has no clue what he has done.

In this case, Stephen deserved the benefit of the doubt. As I looked around, I saw that every other girl at the pool was wearing shorts. He told me that my extremely-modest-for-US-standards swimsuit could cause a stir. I jumped in the pool and didn't emerge until it was closing time and there were only four of us remaining.

There was a sign posted there which I wish I'd taken a photo of - the rules of the pool, which included "no shitting", thank goodness.

Stephen had warned me of one rule ahead of time.

Stephen: There's no love patty in the pool.
Me: No what?
Stephen: No love patty. [Note: I'm not sure that's what he said, but that's what I heard. Twice.]
Me: What does that mean?
Stephen: We can't "do it" in the pool.
Me: We're not going to "do it" anywhere.
Stephen: Not in the pool.

He was cheeky, for sure, but harmless. He had an "it doesn't hurt to ask" sort of attitude.

It was after 9pm when we left the pool, which meant we had less than an hour until his self-inflicted curfew. I didn't even have to be home by 10 when I was 16... "Will your mother kill me if I don't take you home until morning?" he asked. I explained that it really had nothing to do with my mother. I am an adult and can go home whenever I please...and that 11pm would be acceptable.

We went to the bar at the Consulate Hotel and got a couple beers (Windhoek, the only choice). We sat in the back garden, where I was slightly distracted by getting my first mosquito bites of the trip. He told me he had to get up at 5am to go to a farm in Sandy Bay (an area of the island I hadn't seen) to pick up half a pig, which would last him and his aunt a month. That was something I'd like to do and for a moment I was tempted to spend the night. ;)

The Consulate closed early, so we wandered over to The Standard, grabbed a couple more beers, and sat on the bench outside. It was quiet there, but across the street at the White Horse Tavern, there was a group of men standing outside with their drinks looking in our direction.

One young man came over to us. He looked barely old enough to drink and he was carrying an almost empty bottle of whiskey. "I saw you at the pool" he said. I was quite sure he did. He was sweet - asked if I was from the catamaran and if I like to scuba dive.

Young man: Stevie took you out tonight?
Me: Yes, he asked my mother's permission.
Stevie: Yes, I did. It was embarrassing.
Young man: I would have taken you out, if I'd had the chance.

At some point I asked Stephen if there wasn't a nice Saint (the locals are called Saints) for him. He shook his head and said the local girls are only interested in money. He spent several years in the UK and when he returned two years ago with his car all the girls came around. "I turned them away. I know their tricks!" I still don't know what their tricks are, but I am pretty sure I recognized some of his.

When 11pm came around, we headed back to the dock. With the dock's security guard and his German shepherd as our witnesses, Stephen brought the ferry boat around to me, I jumped aboard, and he brought me back to Arctracer safe and sound at a reasonable hour.

It was a fun and amusing evening.

I would have liked to have seen that pig farm, though.

Till next time!

Sailor Hilary