July 18, 2000. Wind: ESE 5 knots. Heading: 265M. Position: 09°11’78”S 159°40’14”E
We steer a course for the northern tip of Savo Island, its trademark splodge of cloud hovering overhead. “Don’t go south of it,” the police chief on Tulagi had warned. “Militias use Savo to run weapons and food to Guadalcanal.” Making a detour this early on in the voyage is somewhat inconvenient, especially with the trades gathering strength, but with Cairns over eleven hundred miles away, an extra ten won’t make much of a difference.
The wind is light. A gentle swell rolls in astern. The conditions are near perfect for April to start acclimatizing to life on the briny. For now, she looks happy and relaxed—perhaps a little too relaxed.
“It’s a lot easier than I thought it would be,” she laughs, pedalling with her hands behind her head. “If I had a pillow back here I could just drift off!”
As the afternoon heat index kicks in, we distract ourselves by telling jokes.
“An Australian and a New Zealander are driving down the road,” April begins. “The Aussie sees a sheep with its head stuck in the fence, so he stops the truck, walks over, and has his way with the sheep.”
I’ve heard this one many times, usually with an Englishman and a Welshman in place of the Aussie and Kiwi. Nevertheless, the hackneyed gag is transformed coming from the respectable Ms April, dutiful guardian of the young minds of tomorrow.
“When he gets back to the truck, he says to the Kiwi, ‘Wow, that was great, you should try it.’ So the Kiwi goes over and sticks his head in the fence…”
The lavatorial humour segues neatly into a topic weighing heavily on April’s mind, ever since I wrote her in an email: Be prepared for the geyser effect when you try to pee in rough conditions. In other words, seawater shooting up your backside…
At the next shift change, April reaches into the Rathole and fishes out a white plastic pouch covered in red letters. “I should probably give this thing a test run now,” she says reluctantly, breaking the seal. “Before the waves get any bigger.”
I stare in horror at the contents. “Jesus, what is that thing?”
She holds a pink funnel, out of which extends a transparent tube like a retractable dick. April smiles smugly, and announces, “I am about to pee off the side of the boat like a man!”
This is all Nancy Sanford’s idea, apparently. She’s used these contraptions for years on day trips around Tampa Bay in her Escapade pedal boat.
“Really?” I reply. “With that thing?”
She holds it up for me to inspect. “This nifty device reconfigures the female anatomy from being plumbed on the inside, to putting the plumbing on the outside.”
Explanation complete, April clambers over the side, perches on the emergency oar, and positions the plastic penis as per the instructions. “Guaranteed to make a guy jealous!” she boasts over her shoulder.
The way I see it, an enduring perk of being a man, one that sets us apart and makes us feel special and unique in an increasingly metrosexual world, is having a Johnson. Ease of deployment is the key. When you’re outdoors and busting for a whiz, whipping out the old trouser snake and letting rip is inestimably superior to scouring the Earth for a bush, and then wrestling with myriad layers of clothing. Allowing one of our last remaining birthrights to be commandeered by the female species strikes me as just plain wrong.
“You could avoid waiting in line for the ladies’ loo with that thing,” I remark with thinly veiled sarcasm. “Pee in the boy’s room, right?”
April nods eagerly. “I reckon. Stand there with the fellas. Talk about football, drinking beer—”
“And how you couldn’t get it up last night because your strap-on got jammed.”
“Well, maybe not…” April blushes and falls silent. Rocking to and fro in the swell, she holds onto the sliding hatch with one hand, and her gender bender gizmo with the other. A full minute goes by. Nothing happens.
“Taking your own sweet time aren’t you Ms A?”
“I can’t go here,” she wails. “There’s too much water. I can’t pee with this much water.”
“Of course there’s too much water. It’s the Pacific fucking Ocean!”
“No, I mean water sloshing up around my knees.”
Every time Moksha heels to starboard, seawater spills over the gunwales, soaking April to the waist.
“But the boat’s rocking too wildly. I might drop it.”
We can only hope, I think to myself dryly. “For goodness sake!” I cry. “I’ve never seen such a bloody performance.”
“If you spent this long pedalling we’d be in Cairns by now.”
“You try this then. You try it. You try to hang something off between your legs and pee!”
Bingo. “That’s what I do five times a day sweetheart.”
A freak wave suddenly appears, tipping Moksha to port and sending April sprawling into the cockpit. In the confusion, the funnel slips from her fingers, and disappears into the drink.
“What the hell are you doing, April?” The opportunity to poke fun is too good to pass up. “You’re supposed to be having a pee, not practicing for the summer Olympics.”
April is hanging monkey-like between the oars, groping for handholds. Incapacitated by giggles, she slumps into the bilges and babbles something unintelligible.
“What was that?” I ask.
“I just peed all over myself!”
“Oh dear. Are you sure you read the instructions properly?”
Reaching for the empty packet, April reads aloud: “Easy to use off sides of boats…”
* * *
All Rights Reserved – © 2012 Jason Lewis
>> More excerpts from The Seed Buried Deep, part two in The Expedition trilogy, will be posted in the coming weeks prior to US & Canadian publication.