Swimming Past

‘Mr. Jack,’ we heard Nicholas, the boatyard manager’s voice ring out through the rental car yesterday as we drove to London, ‘just wanted to check with you. I’m at Quest now and I can’t seem to see her anchor. I’ve got your chain in view, but the anchor looks like it may have grown legs.’

‘The anchor’s at the bowsprit,’ Jack said.

Pause. And then, ‘I see it now, Jack. I thought that may have been your second anchor, but that’s just fine now.’

The plan is to sail Questie back to Wales. First though, before we set back across the Atlantic, we have a last season to spend in the Caribbean. Starting in Trinidad.

Peakes boatyard must have done a visual. Is Quest still standing? Check. Quest has been uninhabited since May last year. We’re excited to see her – but with a little trepidation. It will be like walking into a time warp – with five suitcases. And a ladder to climb up. We’ll be spending the next few weeks putting her back together. De-pickling the water maker. Checking all her pumps and valves. Fixing stuff. Undoubtedly fixing stuff. And the girls will be getting into their rhythm with school. Good times ahead. 

We’ve arrived at my mum’s in West London. It’s not officially London but a couple miles out from a W- postcode. This postal fact used to obsess me. When I lived here, I never quite felt like a Londoner. The feeling of being a neither-here-nor-there teenager – all because of a postcode. Well, I blamed it on a postcode.

On the outskirts of London, my mum’s been re-packing our five suitcases. She took one look and shooed me out of the room. Spent all morning re-doing them. Hehe. Somehow, she freed up a whole sailing bag for us. To have a mother who can pack anything into any small space – I will die knowing I had an awesome mother. We’ve been using Grandpa’s old fishing scale to weigh the cases. Twenty kilos each and counting. 

I did forget one thing though – Jack’s sandal. I was mid-way through packing the shoes, couldn’t find his other sandal, made a mental note to look for it and started doing something else. Unfortunately, the rest is history. Vronnie found it under the shoe rack yesterday when we called to ask. Fin did like carrying it around in her mouth but I couldn’t blame this one on her. Now either Jack walks around with one foot barefoot or we amputate. To be honest, I’m impressed about how cool he is about it. 

We brought the remains of the bungalow food with us to London. The stuff we had good intentions of eating and never did – pumpkin seeds, whole almonds, egg noodles. And the German chocolate. Jack got it a year ago. Scho-Ka-Kola. He saw it online and was reminded of when we helped a boat in the Fastnet race in 2011 who were sponsored by Scho-Ka-Kola. They came into Crosshaven marina in Ireland without a working rudder. How did we know they had no working rudder?

Because they shouted, ‘Ve have no vorking rudder!’ They came at full-speed towards the pontoon. We put our arms out and closed our eyes, but at the last moment, a number of super-buff Germans leapt onto the pontoon and held the boat off. 

‘It’s got coffee in it,’ Jack noted as he bought four cans of Scho-Ka-Kola. Yes, cans of chocolate. So retro-looking that I researched it. Hold on! It was created in 1935 and introduced at the 1936 Summer Olympics as a performance-enhancing energy “Sport Chocolate” (German Sportschokolade). 

‘J,’ I said, ‘I think you ordered Nazi chocolate.’ 

We looked at it. I found it in the bottom of the drawer last week and slung it in the London bag. As the whole family stood around last night, we noticed the blue can. 

‘Guys, we have to eat the Nazi chocolate!’

A bunch of us nibbling on it. I have to say, it was an exciting moment. On the outskirts of London, neither-here-nor-there people. Amazing packer included. Man with one sandal. My auntie Ela. My cousin Krystian, Chloe and his wife Anj. My grandma, listening to old Polish songs about how life swims past. Us tasting it. 

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