Quest is floating again. Her splash is largely due to the efforts by Jack and John. John is one of Jack’s oldest friends. They oversaw the work together in Trinidad to prepare her. This included a serviced engine and generator, new batteries and a brand-new red bottom covered by layers of copper-coating anti-foul. Meanwhile her sails have been washed and repaired, we have a dinghy with a new cover chaps and everything has been polished to the hilt. In summary, Quest has been spoilt like a princess. As usual, she comes across a little smug about it.
Sure, Quest does look beautiful, but watching the bromance my husband has been having with John has been the highlight for me. Regular dinners out before the girls and I arrived, sauntering off together through the boat yard.. it’s been worth the long ride from Wales just to see them at it. On Valentine’s Day, they admitted to attending a restaurant in Movie Towne, a popular hang-out for Trinidad’s youth before realising that every other table was taken with celebrating couples. Progress! Like most long-term friendships, John and Jack’s have had their ups and downs. Indeed, the last time we saw John on Quest, he’d crossed the Atlantic Ocean with us from Gran Canaria to Guadeloupe and twice by mistake, had tried to set the boat on fire. One of the last images I have of this time was when Jack threw him overboard and then launched his own, not-so-small frame on top on John’s.
Go back a few years. John lived in a caravan in our back yard in Wales. Jack’s dad, whose house overlooked us, would regularly chuckle about John’s timekeeping. ‘Doesn’t he have to get up for a job today?’ he commented one morning. With this, Jack took his dad’s air rifle and from his balcony, began to fire in John’s direction. For years after, John would ruefully point at the bullet holes embedded in his caravan. ‘See Jack, you could have shot me!’
Back a few more years. Teenagers together, both obsessed with trawling up and down the Welsh coast on waterskis. Then one day, watching John dive around in the shallows with his kid nephews, Jack noticed that he wasn’t coming up for air. John was dead. ‘I dragged him out of the sea and gave him chest compressions which turned into jumping on his chest until he came back,’ Jack says. Afterwards, John spent a month in hospital with a broken neck.
‘Do you still feel you owe Jack something?’ I like to ask John thirty years later. Every time, John shakes his head. I still don’t think he knows the answer.