Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WHAT AM I DOING HERE? An April Fool's Sea Log

April 1. Cast off, and I'm not talking knitting. April Fool's Day seems such an appropriate day to start any new undertaking. It's always wonderful to be setting sail alone, even when you've never done it before. The boat doesn't seem too difficult to handle, or won't be when I get the hang of the sail thingys. It was very nice of my friend and therapist Heather to loan it to me, if rather unintentionally. Well she told me I needed to take some time out, and I took her at her word.

April 2. Setting course 270 degees north by 135 degrees east! I was never good with numbers, or directions, but it sounds very Scuppers the Sailor Dog, my favourite book from childhood. I have it with me in case of emergency. Be prepared.

April 4. Lost a day yesterday. Don't know quite what happened there but I suppose that's the way it goes with ships' logs and a formerly well stocked grog cabinet.

April 5. A great discovery! The boat has an engine. It also has a simple on-off switch which I am able to operate. This is just as well as it would seem there was a bit of wind last night and the sails look ripped and torn as a punk's laundry. Fortunately I slept through it all, having finalised my audit of the grog.

April 6. Of course, what I really want to do is write, and thought some time alone in a distant place might help me get down to it. I have been intending to write the great post-Conradian novel of the sea all my life, but hindered by distance from it. Fortunately with Global Warming the sea is coming within easier reach of all and thus my ambition is to be fulfilled.

April 7. Started my novel last night, titled The Pull of the Pulley. That's fine, I told myself, it's only a working title and everyone has to put up with those. But after writing a couple of pages I decided novels are pretty hard things and so decided to make this log my book. With any luck I'll disappear on my epic journey and the log will be found and published and become an international bestseller and I'll be found later happily living on a tropical island with my beautiful bride and our kids and we'll all live happily after on the generous royalties from the publishers. Well I did say with any luck.

April 8. Sat up all last night and today reading Conrad. I had never read him before, though my po-mo writing tutor appropriated some striking passages for a story he published, if arguably without complete acknowledgement (he said that's fine in a po-mo kind of mode).  I got through Heart of Darkness, The Shadow Line, Typhoon and The Bleep of the Narcissus. I found the last one a bit of a worry though as there is a fantastic storm sequence in it which made me wonder whether I might encounter a typhoon, hurricane or such myself out here at sea. If that's where I am, and not a bay, strait or ocean. It's very confusing with all this water about, and it all looks surprisingly much the same.

April 9. Am really enjoying the solitude. Just me and the boat and the sun and waves. Quite a lot of waves actually, and I saw a dolphin. Well, either that or a fifteen ton great white shark.

April 10. Saw more waves today. And another dolphin, I think.

April 11. More waves. Very pretty.

April 12. More waves.

April 13. Waves.

April 14. Waves.

May 4.  Lost a couple of days there, I think. Still enjoying the solitude, though possibly going slightly mad and miss company.

May 9. Had a waking dream that I was with friends drinking in the uni bar. Remembered the title of that Chatwin book, What Am I Doing Here? (Idea: maybe I could appropriate the title and write this log as that. Surely that would bring me money and celebrity, even if by theft and subterfuge. We all have to eat don't we? Besides, the one thing I remember my tutor saying in class, and which he stressed we had to remember at all times, was that titles are not copyright.).

May 25. Just realised I hadn't eaten properly or bathed since I started looking at the damn waves. Also it would appear the dolphin wasn't a dophin but a shark after all, one that has taken a great white bite out of the boat, which is slowly sinking. Poses something of a conundrum as I haven't seen a skerrick of land since I left.

June 2. Some young Thai blokes came on board today. They told me they were pirates but I laughed saying you have to be joking as none of you has a peg-leg or a parrot and besides real pirates don't wear Gap. They didn't seem to have a terrific of humour though, and wanted anything valuable I had on board, which I said was my CD collection of vintage New Wave. They took my boxes of canned food and computer and tied me up and left a Clash song playing on my old walkman they didn't even bother to steal. Now I'm really lost in the supermarket. Lucky though I'd been writing this log by, of all things, hand!

June 10. Saved! I have been intercepted by the HMAS Hanson. It's the latest thing in Border Security Policy, with zodiac loads of grain-fed young blokes in black seal-like outfits, guns and battle helmets. 

June 15. Despite the fact that I had a valid Australian passport and current NSW driver's licence they took me to Christmas Island Detention Centre for "processing" (which sounds creepily a bit like turning me into hamburger mince - one can only hope not!).  It's all probably to do with those three demerit points I got for doing a U-turn on Bondi Road last year. Anyway, with luck I'll be home by Christmas. Unless there's a change of government, in which case I'd better learn Arabic and Sinhalese and settle in for the long haul. Still, with any luck there'll be a book in it. Well I did say with any luck.


  1. How is baby and Bella going? You are writing beautifully as always

  2. Thanks Jason007. Bella and Ada-Bella both going well, though of course any infant has sick and trying times (and is trying at times!). And thanks, glad you enjoyed the piece.