Sea Trials Farce – the expedition #adventure #travel book excerpt 9

Leaving Salcombe marina for three days of “sea trials”

The following afternoon we re-launched Moksha into Salcombe harbour, loaded her with three days of provisions, and headed for the open sea – centreboard firmly in place this time.

For Steve, this was to be his first night at sea, ever. He had more experience of overland travel having ridden a bicycle more than a mile since leaving school. I had more experience of boats having actually been in one.

After pedalling for what seemed an eternity, the dark outline of Bolt Head refused to get any closer. We switched. Within minutes, Steve’s face was clenched in similar frustration. It was mind-numbing stuff. We exchanged glances, and cracked up laughing.
“Fucking boring isn’t it.”
“To put it mildly.”
“Look,” I said, furthering our mutual cause. “We know this is going to be a nightmare once we get out on the Atlantic proper. So why prolong the agony?”
Steve nodded. “It’s opening time in half an hour, too.”
More sniggering, and by eight o’clock, thanks mainly to the incoming tide, we were back in the Kings Arms, warming up next to the fire with Stuart and Kenny.
Stuart raised his glass. “Well, here’s to successful sea-trials, eh lads!”
“Aye, awl fifteen minutes o’ them,” Kenny muttered derisively.
The drinks flowed, and as the evening wore on, the heat of the fire and the drone of background chatter conspired and I found myself slipping into a soporific coma. But something in the back of my mind was needling away. Something crucial we’d forgotten.
At a quarter to eleven, I remembered what it was.
“Shit! Steve, the interview with Sky Sports!”
We leapt to our feet and dashed outside to the public phone box. Squeezing inside, Steve dialled the number from a scrap of paper while I rummaged for a ten pence coin.
We were just in time.
“Putting you straight through,” the producer said brusquely. “You’re on in ten seconds.” In the background, we could hear the lacquered voice of a male presenter leading into the interview.
“…And now joining us on the line from the English Channel, we have Steve Smith and Jason Lewis preparing for their historic circumnavigation attempt with three days of sea-trials. Good evening gentlemen!”
“Hi there,” replied Steve.
“So we’re looking at some footage taken earlier today of you pedalling around Salcombe harbour. Water looks nice and calm. The conditions must be very different out at sea, right?”
My expedition partner squinted into the glass of the telephone box, but only his moon-like reflection loomed back. “Yeah. It’s a bit windy…”
“Of course. And Jason, tell us what you had for dinner tonight.”
My mind went blank.
Steve grabbed the mouthpiece. “Porridge.”
Porridge?” The presenter laughed. “Funny choice for an evening meal isn’t it?”
There was a loud crash. A figure burst out of the back door of the pub, one of the rugby players who’d been drinking in the public bar all afternoon. He began vomiting noisily against the low wall beside us.
“What’s that?” The presenter’s interest was suddenly peaked. “Sounds like someone being sick.”
Steve smirked. “Yes, it’s err… Jason. Doesn’t quite have his sea legs yet.”
“Or maybe your porridge wasn’t to his liking Steve, eh? Ha! Ha!”
Smart-arse, I thought.
 “Finally lads, is there anything from land you’re missing already?”
I jerked my thumb towards the pub and tapped my watch. Last orders were in five minutes.
“A couple of beers in a nice warm pub would be nice,” replied Steve, trying to keep a straight face.
“Yes, I’m sure. Ha! Ha! You’ll have to work a bit harder for that now won’t you boys, eh? Maybe in a couple more days once you hit land again. Ha! Ha!”
More like about five seconds once we get off the phone you fathead…

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Cap’n Stevie Smith at the helm

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