Boatyard

People have been working on the boat next door. And when I mean boat, I mean the most beautiful boat. Blue like a bluebird. She’s seventy-four feet long. Cost $13 US million, currently sails in St. Lucia. Owned by an American. That’s all we know. The rest of the time it’s just busy, busy, on her. A whole team of boatyard workers have been prepping, fixing and anti-fouling, ready to re-splash.

The team’s been watching us too. Lulu’s been talking to the man in charge. He sees her more than the rest of us, since she’s always going back and forth to her office. He asked her the other day if we were all cramped on board. ‘Well, yeah, compared to your boat,’ was Lu’s reply. Yep.

Still, it hasn’t been easy for them. We’ve had extremes of weather this week – from boiling hot to intense downpours. Now Tropical Storm Karen is brushing her tail against Trinidad. The men were supposed to launch the blue boat on Friday. That didn’t happen. Jack tried to console them, saying Friday was unlucky – a superstitious day to leave port in the UK. The foreman nodded ruefully.

Not sure if they’ll launch Monday. Big seas predicted from Karen. In the meantime, we’ve watched and heard the crew work late into each night. Then, the other morning I heard the team telling one of the workers off – and it was Trinidadian I had no chance of understanding. English, maybe, but in name only. It was fierce. Still, I felt their pain. Hot outside. Working non-stop together.

Boatyards can be brutal places. All the dust, chemicals and extremes of temperature. In this harsh environment, we’re still noticing changes after being away. Personally speaking, I used to get so restless on Quest. I know right, what am I – a toddler? Writing is good for this. You have to slow things down to write. Add boat school to the mix, food prep, basic cleaning and a bit of a stroll outside.

The other Questies are noticing changes too. Lu used to be distracted with missing out. ‘I don’t feel that so much anymore,’ she said. ‘I feel more settled with the way I am.’

‘I’ve never had that problem,’ Delph threw in.

Lulu snorted. ‘I noticed at the bakery, Delph. When the lady asked what you were reading with that book in your hand and you said, “Duh, a book.”‘

We gasped. ‘You didn’t, Delphine?!’

Lulu nodded. ‘The worst thing,’ she said, giggling, ‘was that Delph didn’t even say it to the lady. She turned to me to say it, like the lady was crazy.’

I exclaimed, ‘That lady was nice! She explained to me what pone was – heavy cake made out of cassava.’

Delph just shrugged. I wanted to hug her tight. I know she didn’t tell the lady the name of the book because she wasn’t sure of it herself. But boy, can that kid bluff her way out of a bag. Or a book.

‘What about you, J? How do you feel different on Quest?’

Jack smiled at us – rather enigmatically. ‘Haven’t you all noticed?’

Well, yes we have noticed. But we didn’t want to say so. We’re living in a boatyard.

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