The Captain’s Tour – Chapter 4
Crimes & misdemeanours
Its quiet in the wheelhouse as I take another sip of my instant coffee. The Captain is slouched in his chair behind the wheel meditating on an empty horizon. The wind is behind us and conditions remain favorable. Slowly… conversation begins about last night’s fiasco. The final verdict – our control panel blew out and we’d lost some hardware – including the depth sounder and GPS plotter. It wasn’t full Armageddon but it was certainly inconvenient. Now it was time to return to the ‘old ways’. Getting up from his chair, the Captain reached into some draws and began pulling out these charts. I joined him as he unfolded these weathered maps, curious to understand. As the navigational tools were assembled the Captain commenced pinpointing our position. He then began measuring and drawing lines across the map. I watched while he explained.. “Some people don’t carry charts onboard anymore… but you can’t just rely on computers – not out here mate”.
As we motored north, Tim appeared from below deck and moved slowly towards the galley. The Captain reclaimed the wheel, while I took a seat and continued that article in ‘White Horses’. The Captain looked to me -“Were doing 9 knots… that’s about 220 mile a day.” I did the math and figured we’d reach our target by tomorrow. We all voted not to explore the mainland breaks… we had only two weeks before returning to port… and the longer away from civilization – the better.
As I turned towards the galley, I saw Lance and Donnie were now busy with the breakfast program. Eventually the smell of bacon & eggs began wafting out of the kitchen. The Captain glanced towards the galley with a deep frown. He looked back again at Lance – “What’s going on here mate?” Lance didn’t react. “We still got plenty of days on this boat… bacon and eggs? – f%rken overkill mate”. Lance ignored the Captain and continued cooking. Donnie stared into the sink with a bottle of water in his hand. The Captain looked at him, “What’s that?” – “Aqua boss” – “Something wrong with the water dispenser?” Donnie forced a grin. The Captain looked back at the horizon. Donnie made a quick exit… Lance continued prodding the bacon.
Everyone was seated at the lunch table. I talked with the Captain about Southport, while Tim and Lance devoured the rest of the fried noodles. The Carolina family began slowly exiting to take a siesta. Chrissy’s still had trouble with her lower back but her morphine pills made it bearable. Not sure how she’ll go when they run out.
I glanced up at the screen while ‘Ulu 32′ played in the background. Live commentary flowed from the table. Mr. Luke fades into frame, power surfing across some Indo perfection. The Captain remarks – “Look… it’s the property developer” – “What you mean?” says Lance. The Captain pauses – “He’s building another high-rise on the coast… I said to him… you think we really need more of those up here?” The table was silent. The Captain looked out to sea – “I think he’s got the shits with me now”.
As the afternoon wore on, more movies made it into the DVD player, this time the Jack McCoy film – ‘Deep Shade of Blue’. A sequence comes on where JOB drops into a huge left – “Where’s that?” Lance asks. “Pipe” says the Captain.
Next, it’s the ‘Joe Quig’ section. The Captain looks at Tim with a dry grin – “There you go Timmy… a bit of balsa”. As we watch some fine longboarding, the Captain turns to Tim -“So Takiyama checked out – ay?” Tim quietly nods. “That’s a real bummer… what a great shaper”.
Eventually there’s a ridiculous retrospective of Hollywood surf films with these B-grade actors pretending to ride massive Waimea. The Captain turns to me – “You know I once really pissed my grandma off when I was a kid. I asked her for some money to go and see ‘Ride the wild wild surf’. She got so bloody angry… she couldn’t understand why I’d want to waste money on anything to do with surfing.” I grinned as I visualised this blond little grommet asking his grandma for money to go and see a surf film.
Suddenly Mr. George appears on-screen. The Captain reacts immediately – “That bloke really likes fishing and killing sharks. I was in an ad with him once in 81’… went to the premier and he didn’t wear any shoes.” The Captain then got up and left the room. The film continued with just Tim and myself watching. Donnie comes in and begins vacuuming – the noise overwhelms the room. The Captain reappears as some women’s surfing begins. “Is this the chicks??” I nod. “They really shit me!” – I ask why. “Coz they’re so bloody good”. The Captain grabs the vacuum off Donnie, takes the brush off and begins whipping it into the corners. As he approaches, he jovially attacks Tim and myself before giving it back to Donnie. He returns to the wheelhouse.
On tonight’s menu it was spaghetti Bolognese. Today Chrissy took over the galley and decided treat us to some South Carolinian Italian food. As this mountain of meat sauce arrived, I looked at the Captain for a reaction. But as wafts of home cooked Bolognese drifted across the table, the only expression was pure delight. This was a decadence that didn’t matter… sharing such a hearty meal could never be bad.
As the plates were eventually cleared conversation drifted into politics. Tim and the Captain argued about Paul Keating, while Chris shared his views on capital punishment. He believed in the death penalty and that justice was all about – “an eye for an eye”. Tim opposed this, believing a life sentence in prison was sufficient penalty. As the Captain rejoined the table, he began telling us about the ‘Balaclava murders’ on the Gold Coast during the 1970’s. During this period there was a rash of unsolved rapes & murders, claimed to be the work of a serial killer. The Captain told us a story about how (as a kid) he was hitch hiking home and scored a ride with this gentleman. As they approached his suburb, the man changed direction. When the Captain asked where they were going, the man just said – “Don’t worry… we’re only taking a short cut”. At the next traffic light the Captain forced the gearbox into neutral and kicked this guy square in the face – managing to narrowly escape from the car. The Captain believes this guy was the Balaclava murderer and will never forget the face. Until this day, the killer has never been caught.
As this grim conversation continued on into the night, I decided to disappear into my bunk. If there was any chance of waves tomorrow – I wanted to be in reasonable shape for it.
Goodnight – ‘selamat tidur’.