The Stowaway

We left the Tobago Cays after Halloween, feeling on schedule. From staying in one spot for ages – Barbados last year for a whole three months – we’re on the move now. To Mustique. No time to get bored if you keep going.

It was a quick morning snorkel in the Cays before we left. This time with Lulu. We found three turtles, including the missing back flipper one I’d seen the day before. Delph’s disabled turtle. And Lulu and I saw another disabled turtle – this one had its front flipper missing.

Lu raised her head of the water. ‘Must be a lot of sharks around here,’ she said slowly.

I gulped again. Not that you’d see one. We weren’t exactly in Florida, or the Bahamas – there are very few sightings of big sharks around this part of the Caribbean. Not quite sure why. They should be here – sign of a healthy ecosystem. But try telling it to the turtles with the missing flippers.

Not that I can get scared with Lulu. Lulu is my anti-scare tactic. My being-brave amulet. There is something about this kid. She is a person that stops other people’s fears. And this is despite her brazen laziness. Her teenage moody outbursts. It’s a gift. She’s a fear fighter.

Meanwhile, she’s coming back to boat-living. Slowly. There are still moments of frustration. A heavy decrease in online social media – which means less time talking to her friends back home. She demanded three hours-a-day on the way to Carriacou. She’s been on it since, but less. As soon as she has a meltdown, I tend to shut it down. I could have never done that in Borth – she would have killed me first.

And yet what is apparent is that this kid has done her time on a boat. Two-and-a-half-years so far. She is a certified proper boat kid – with the skills to match. Examples:

1. She can drive Evil Edna way better than I can.

2. She knows how much we can lean over before we need to reef Quest’s sails. Hell, given a chance, she wouldn’t reef.

3. She can hold Quest pointing into whatever wind and sea we ask her to while we sort out the mainsheet.

Basically, she is the perfect girlfriend for any posh teenage boy holidaying in Mustique or any local kid running a kitesurfing school. Not that she needs to be. Just sayin’.

She keeps throwing away the sea-urchin tests I find. I found a really nice one in Prickly Bay – and she chucked it after we anchored in the Tobago Cays. Usually I don’t catch her in the act. This time I heard it splash into the blue water.

‘I liked that shell!’

Lulu shrugged. ‘You can just get another one.’

Cue my moan. ‘I don’t want another one. I want that one.’

‘Ok, if you need to be such a baby about it. I’ll get it.’

I looked over the side. It was deep blue. ‘Lu – we’re in at least eight metres of water.’

She narrowed her eyes. A moment later: splash and she was in. Jack was in the sea already.

‘I can’t find it without my glasses,’ she said.

I sighed. Did a social media give her myopia? I’ll never know. In the meantime, Jack spotted the urchin shell. ’There it is on that patch of sea grass.’

She shoved her head in the water. ‘Oh yeah.’

Later, on our own, Jack said to me, ‘She got it on the first go, you know. I couldn’t have. It was way too deep for me.’

I looked back. ‘She did?’

He nodded. ‘Like she did it yesterday.’

Yep. That’s our stowaway. Our boat kid.

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