From the log of the SS Tsunami
I'm tired of it all. The constant hustle and bustle of working as a IT-consultant, the dullness of my past, everything! Today I delivered my resignation. I have already begun auctioning off both my comic book and computer collection.
I'm keeping my books, CD's, a few PDA's and stuff though.
Tomorrow I'm buying a sailboat.
I found a boat.
Or rather the sorry remains of a boat. It's a 45' long hull with a broken mast. The last owner have stripped it of all that he could easily sell. No matter. It's cheap, and the wooden hull looks good.
Since the mast is beyond repair, and the rest of the rig is missing, I have decided to replace it with a 'Junk rig' instead of the Bermuda type rig it once had. It's cheaper and simpler. The only real dr wback is that it can't go as close up to the wind as some other types. But since I'm in no real hurry that shouldn't be a problem.
I have moved the boat to a small shipyard for repairs.
At the office I still have to do a lot of overtime to make certain that I finish, or at least have them placed in capable hands, all the projects that I was working on. I'm also documenting every little it of every work saving routine that I made over the years. How did I manage to make so many, and still be short on time all the time? No matter, soon all that will soon be a memory, slowly disappearing. Besides I can use the extra money.< FONT>
The boat is coming along. The hull has been scraped and repainted. The remains of the old mast has been removed, and the hull reinforced to take a new and different rig.
The engine, A twenty year old SABB, covered in rust and grime, once dismantled, cleaned and reassembled starts up and happily produces the familiar chugging noises of an old diesel engine. That saved me the cost of buying and fitting a replacement. I had to buy a new alternator though. Not a refurbished one or slightly used, but brand new. After all, it's supposed to supply most of my electricity onboard, and it's difficult to get hold of a new one while at sea.
The electrician came today to mount the AC systems so that I can use a cable ashore to recharge batteries and such while in harbor. It seems like he knows less about the requirements of marine electrical installations than me. Luckily, I can do the 12V system myself. I have now ripped out all the old wires, and begun a complete rebuild of the system, with two separate batteries, placed separately, and a solar panel. The Panel cost a bundle, but it'll repa that in a year or so if I don't do too much nighttime sailing or otherwise use excessive electricity. I haven't heard from the sailmaker about my sail though. I wonder why. It's not as if it is a difficult sail to make.
Mounted the mast today. It looks naked without any stays or sail, just the rope to hoist sail dangling from the top. The sailmaker still haven't returned my calls...
Mounted the GPS and radio today and connected them to the smaller of the two batteries.Neither the Radio nor the GPS was new, but since the shop got them from a man who wanted 'the state of the art' in h s daycruiser, I don't think that they'we seen much use. The landlubber probably used the GPS only to reaffirm the position of his place in the marina, and the radio to chat with the next boat over! Lanterns, cabin lights, a small TV set and my co puters will be powered by the other battery. I must remember to put in a switch so that the loads can be crossconnected to the other battery, just in case.
It seems that the sailmaker isn't going to respond, so I send him a letter saying that his services won't be needed and that the order is canceled. Then I call around and locates a store that sells cloth suitable for a sail, and orders up what I need with a 25% margin. In a secondhand store I find a sewing machine capable of zigzag patterns. It'll do for the sail. It might come in handy on board later if anything should happen to the sail, so I set aside ome storage for it and whatever I leave of sailcloth.
Launched the boat today. It looks good. I haven't yet had time to sew the sail, but that don't matter. At least now I don't have to pay rent for the yard anymore. Except for the small toilet and shower, he cabin's largely unfinished though. Got a visit from relatives who tried to talk me to my senses. I wonder who told them, it's not a if I broadcast it on national television that I have withdrawn from the 'rat-race' of IT support. /P>
Started on the sail today. It's slow going, not because of complexity, but because of the amount of material that I must handle. I comfort myself by thinking that money saved is money earned. Of course t e needle breaks, and yes, after closing hours too. Not much else to do than make a cup of tea, and go to bed early.
Bought a few needles for the sewing machine today, also got material for curtains and the upholstery in the cabin. Since the month-end is coming up fast I decide to work on the cabin interior today. By t e end of the day, I have the paraffin stove mounted and tested, and the bunk only need a mattress. I talk to the landlord and cancels the lease from the end of the month. He agrees to the short notice because I offer to pay for the ad in the newspaper, an cover any loss of rent until a new tenant can be found. I'm not worried that it will take long since it's a nice apartment in a quiet part of town, not too far from a school.
Finished the sail today. Mounting the battens that give the sail the characteristic looks wasn't as easy as I thought, but I managed. Hoisting it is heavier than expected. Maybe one of the pulleys are da aged. If so it's probably in the top of the mast. DAMN! Had to use the crane at the shipyard to take the mast down since there wasn't any way of hoisting me up to repair. I replace the pulley with one of the most expensive that I find in the shop The thought of maybe having to replace it while at sea does not sound tempting. I buy a couple of spares for the rest of the rig, it's expensive, but since they can all be reached easily, I buy a slightly cheaper type.
I see an ad for Radar systems meant for small fishing wessels and pleasure craft, but they are way over my budget. Used systems are also very scarce. Maybe one will crop up later. It would have been nice to have in fog or nightsailing though...
That evening a couple of other sailors come by to talk. It seems that they're intrigued by my rigging. Happy to have company, I put on the kettle and dig out some cookies. At first they are disappointed hat the rig's not suited for regatta sailing, but when they hear that the sail is much cheaper, and can be made at home, they get more interested.
They are particularly interested in fitting sails like these on boats in the 20' - 25' bracket, since these boats often can be found cheaply, and would be suitable for youngsters to handle after they'we utgrown the small dinghy's at the local sailing club. They leave after midnight with a stack of printouts, references and notes. I have been promised a few charts.
Coming back to the boat after finishing up a few loose treads at the office today, I find the charts wrapped in plastic and placed in the cockpit. The maps are as they said a little old, but the coastlin doesn't change that much, and they'we been updated with bridges and overhanging wires, so they are good enough.
I'm still not finished with the cabin interior, but I start stowing my stuff anyhow. I can finish the interior later when I know exactly what I want where. It's more important to get the stuff out of the apartment. Besides, I'll need something to do when I'm weather-bound or otherwise hindered from sailing.
Today I sold my car. I didn't get as much as I expected, probably because I wasn't buying a new car at the same time, but since I don't want the hassle of selling direct, that's a minor annoyance. From n w on I must either rely on friends, rentals or my bicycle to get around on land. I wish that I had one of those foldable ones that a friend of mine has, but those are expensive.
Today was the last day at work. As expected there was a cake and flowers. The boss saying that should I ever need a job, then I would be welcome back any time, but since we both know that government offi es don't work that way, it's just a rehearsed speech. The rest of the team will probably start combing the servers to see if I left any surprises. Not to mention, changing all the passwords.
Tonight I go to sleep in my boat, enjoying the feeling of freedom. For once I sleep well, without and dreams or waking in the middle of the night.
Today it's overcast, but the wind is blowing, so I hoist the sail and set the course out the fjord and then southwards.
Seeing no reason to hurry, I sail along at the leisurely speed of 4 knots.
I drop anchor in a small fjord in the evening, The night is uneventful, but I'm awakened early in the morning by a couple of youths who's out playing with daddy's cruiser... I wave cheerfully at them, ho ing that if they see that they can't irritate me, then they'll leave. I do jot down the registration of the boat just in case I should happen to meet them again.
Today I rounded Stadt, and am nearing Bergen. The weather was wet'n windy as usual. The boat handled the rough sea well, or so I thought. It seems that there's a leak in the cabin roof, and we can all gu ss what the leak was above... I have covered the roof section with solid tape, hoping that it will hold until I get somewhere drier and can do a more permanent repair.
Today I left Bergen after a few days waiting for the cabin and cabinroof to properly dry out. I bought a few new charts. It looks like charts will be the largest expense this summer.
The weather is good, and I'm doing 6 knots, still sailing south.
Today, after telling a couple of other sailors, I set course for the Shetland islands. Why not? Many fishingboats took the same trip during the war, and generally under worse circumstances. Besides, the eople there is known to be very friendly and hospitable.
Where am I? Earlier today? a squall blew up. While I were riding out the weather, on engine power, I heard a crash from inside the cabin. Fearing something heavy was loose, I turned on he autopilot and went down below. The next thing I remember is waking up to a silence only punctuated by the chugging of the engine. Getting up on the deck again, I found myself in calm waters, not a wave as far as the eye can see, and just the weakest of winds. I shut down the engine, and tried to find my position. The GPS unit or antenna was dead, it could not lock onto any sattelites, and listening on the radio I only found static. The compass shows a bearing of due south, so I hoist the sail and decide to stay on that course at the moment.
After dinner, I sat back in the cockpit, to enjoy the afternon sun. If wasn't until then that I noticed the haze around the horizon that hid even the sun.
Looking at the compass, I noticed that it showed exactly due south, just as it had earlier. I'm not that good a sailor!
When I tap on the compass, the needle started slowly rotating clockwise.
NOW I'm worried! The GPS is't working, the compass is weird, I don't even have the sun to navigate by. I'm lost at sea.
I try calling for assistance by radio, but no answer. I even try broadcasting a Mayday on ALL available channels, but still no answer. There's no other option than to wait until nightfall. /P>
It's night. When I look at the sky I see stars, but am unable to pick out any constellations, and the moon is not visible. This is strange. Very strange.
I get up several times during the night to check for stars and to try the radio. No luck.
Day again. I still can't see the sun, the water is still calm, and the instruments still don't work. What's worse is that now there's not even the barest hint of wind. I even dig trough my camping equipm nt to find a cheap 'survival-knife' with a compass on it's end. That too rotates slowly. since I seem to be totally lost, I activate the emergency beacon.
Today I noticed a weak surface current. I have navigated the boat into the middle of the current in the hope that it leads somewhere. I'm still loath to use the diesel since I have no idea of direction a d a limited supply of fuel.Who wants to end up alone in the North-Atlantic, in a boat NOT stocked for it?
Luckily the sunlight, even if somewhat dimmer than normal, is capable of restoring much of the power used by the radio and lanterns, so that I don't need to run the diesel just to recharge. Yet. I have s arted to ration drinking water, just in case. The emergency beacon seems to have run out of power a while ago, and since it's a sealed unit I can't rig it to the boats batteries.
Today I saw a ship on the horizon. I didn't dare leave the current to investigate it, but I looked it over with my binoculars. It looked like an old Steam powered schooner, so it must have been more than a century old, more likely a century and a half. If a ship with the fuel reserves to cross the atlantic was stranded here, then what are my chances to get out?
I'm now down to approximately a week of water. There has been no rain, not even any dew. I stopped shaving and washing alltogether a few days ago.
Today I saw a ship close enough and more importantly, new enough looking that it warranted closer examination. I took my boat out of the current, and tied it to the ship. It was some sort of lux ry yacht, three times the lenght of mine. On examination, the ship was out of fuel, and the instruments were behaving as mine. Ransacking the ship I did find a few bottles of soda hidden in a cabin. I also found the remains of one of the crew. It was OT human. Rather more reptilian.
I didn't bother to take with me anything but the soda.
Today I used the last of the water.
In an attempt to get more I'm boiling seawater and gathering the condensation. It works, in a fashion, but the paraffin for the stove won't last forever. How I wish for one of those emergency desalinatio sets. If I ever manage to get out of here alive, that will be the first thing that I get, even before a good meal and a bath!
i ran out of fuel for the stove two days ago, trying to get it to burn diesel didn't work. I note a diesel conversion set for my stove on the list of things to buy if I survive. I'm beginnig to feel parc ed, They say a man can survive up to 7 days without water. I guess this is an excellent chance to find out...
I'm also for one reason or another starting to itch all over my body...
Having no other option, I have started the engine, and is steering, hopefully, in the direction of the current. I wonder how long the fuel will last.
Four? days since since I ran out of water. I woke up because every joint in my body HURTS! This was never mentioned in any of the stories of shipwrecked sailors. Wouldn't it be a laugh if I were to die o a disease instead of dehydration. The diesel ran out some time before I woke up since the engine is cold to the touch. I have fixed a small electric motor to the transmit button on the radio. Maybe someone will hear the clicks and investigate, the solar anel should keep it going for long after I'm gone. This will probably be my last entry.
Drifting... No? Floating... The white fog, slowly turns darker, more solid...
How is he today? A male voice asks.
the same as yesterday, and the day before, A female voice responds, then: do you think he'll pull through?
I decide that I like that voice.
I'm floating again, but the white fog seems thinner, and the cool solid darkness comes quicker. I realize that the darkness is just the absence of light, that I'm in a darkened place. I can feel the shee s against my fur... Fur?
The floating sensation is back, the fog is lifting again... I hear someone quietly doing something in the other end of the room. I must have made a sound for the next thing I hear is that voice saying to me Please don't try to move. you are in a hospital, suffering from severe dehydration and exposure. Just rest, and all will be well A hand places something cool against my forehead. While the fog starts forming up again I think that I really like that voice.
The fog is lifting again, but I'm in no hurry. I let it draw back at it's own pace, and soon I can feel the sheets against my body. My body feels heavy, but I'm not going anywhere. I can hear?, or rather know that there's someone else in the room. For a long while I just lie there, listening to my body, the weak clicks and beeps of instruments in the room, the person moving around in the room. My memory is still foggy, but I remember a voice< EM>. Then a door opens, and light enters the room. Outlined in the door is a woman? with a tail? She enters the room, and talks quietly to the other person who then leaves. The door closes again and the room darkens to a semi darkness again. I op n my eyes a little bit more, and see that the woman moves with the grace of a cat, and has black fur. A black panther?
This time I wake up without the fog. There's a sound in the room? someone is humming? I open my eyes. I see the black panther standing by an open window. Since the light is subdued it m st be overcast outside. Something must have alerted her, because she suddenly turns her head to look directly at me. She has beautiful green eyes. She comes over and looks at some instruments by my bed. Seemingly satisfied she turns her attention directly to me. So, sailor. You have decided to join the living, she says with an smile. Its the Voice that I remember from earlier! I smile weakly, or at least I try to smile. Then she asks: Is there anything you need? I suddenly feel t irsty, and manages to say Water, please? I can't recognize my own voice, it's so hoarse, like my throat is covered in sanding paper. The black panther leaves and returns soon after with a glass of water. I try to reach for the glass, but there's o strenght in my arms. With one hand she hold the glass to my mouth, and with the other she lifts the back of my head so that I can drink. After a few small sips, I whisper Thank you. I then sag back into the bed, and I slip back into darkness.
There's a nurse looking like a panda? in my room when I wake up again. Somehow I feel disappointed. I asks for and get a glass of water, and this time I manage to grip the glass with my paw? /EM>
Lifting the glass up, I see my reflection in it. A face covered in golden fur, a broad nose, muzzle?, a shaggy mane where my long, rather unkempt hair used to be, and fangs? I look like a li n? I barely manage not to drop the glass. Shaking I lift the glass and take a sip, before holding it out to the nurse.
What has happened to me, I think before slipping under again.
Today the black panther is back. She tells me that her name is Patricia Panthera, but that everyone calls her Paddie. She also tells me, but this seems less important, that the US coastguard picked me up off the east coast somewhere, I forgot the name, brought me here to a navy base, and that local fishermen had been rather incensed about my 'emergency beacon'... Also, that curiously enough a FBI agent wanted to speak with me as soon as I was well enough
She then serves me a hot broth, to get used to food again as she says. I don't particularly like it, probably because of some vegetable in it, but as long as she sits next to me, I won't complain...
Today a FBI agent, a fellow looking somewhat like a racoon, came on a visit. He introduces himself as Malcolm Boone, a special cases investigator, or as he says, the one who gets all the weird stories. H spoke my name, badly, so I told him to call me Anthony, because the 'anglified' version of my middle name was probably the only part he would be able to pronounce. Satisfied that I was who he though I was, he had a rather disturbing news for me, that I h d been declared missing at sea for more than a year! He then started questioning me about what had happened since I had left Norway. I couldn't give any satisfactorily answers, but I don't think that he really expected any. I didn't tell him that when I s t out to sea I was bareskinned, without, fangs, claws or tail either. I did describe the boats that I had seen adrift on the calm sea, and when I mentioned the schooner, he was interested, picking me for details, but offering no reason why the interest. < FONT>
After a while of this, the nurse, Patricia, came in and told him that I needed my rest, and that he would have to come back tomorrow.
I'm finally off the IV-feed! I'm also allowed to get out of bed for a few minutes, which I really need. There are after all certain things a man prefer to do alone, no matter how beautiful help s available...
The FBI agent came back again, and this time he had some pictures and a few charts with him. The pictures were of old steamers. He asked me to pick the one I saw. Unfortunately, no one matched exactly, b t one were close enough so that I could point out the dissimilarities. He said that the pictures were all of ships that had mysteriously disappeard, without any wreckage ever being found.
Then we went over the charts, trying to decide what was my last known position and direction. He never told me what, if anything, he would use the information for. We then started talking sailing in gene al. I guess that even FBI agents need a hobby.
When it became time for him to leave, he asked me if he could take a look at my boat. Of course, I answered, Just don't make any mess, it's my home after all. Until now I had thought th t the boat was lost, but it seems the coastguard towed it into port. I must remember to buy those guys a round of beer.
I'we been up for a couple of days now, and it's time to leave the hospital. The FBI agent, Malcolm, came by to meet me when I finished the paperwork. He wanted to know what my plans were. I don't kno , I told him. I wasn't exactly planning to visit America, so I don't have working permit or anything. And the fact is, I can't just cast off and sail back to Europe either. I don't want to bother the Norwegian embassy for travel money either since th y probably won't pay to ship my boat back...
Malcolm says that since I'm not planning to stay, he should be able to get me a temporary working permit, to tie me over, and that he'll come over with it tomorrow.
Just as I'm leaving Paddy comes, and I manage to blow my chances to impress her with my gallantry and charm... The less said the better.
I find my boat moored at a small marina on the base. I have been told that I must move it since I'm not only a civillian but a foreigner too. Lucky that they don't know that i'm Ex Airforce... I manage to scam the marina supervisor into giving me diesel for the engine, or risk my boat drifting into one of the fancy fibreglass speedcoffins when I cast off. We both laugh about it though. It seems that he prefer wooden boats too.
I start the engine, and switch on the radio. Whoever stopped my beacon seems to also have disconnected my solar panel, so the batteries are flat.
About to cast off, I notice a lot of navy types hanging around or pretending to have jobs to do nearby. I better not do any silly mistake, since Norwegian seamanship reputation is at stake. I raise the f ag, and salute them before carefully navigating out of the marina.
The civillian marina is just across the bay so I didn't have to get hold of any charts. Once there I find the supervisor and rent a space. Luckily the marina is reasonably modern, and have AC outlets on he pier. Oops, there comes my first major expense... This is 110V AC, and my charger is for 220V AC only. I bought a 220V only model since that's the standard in Europe, and I wasn't planning to do a trip to America.
The local supply store wants way too much for a charger, so I take a trip into town and buy a cheap car-battery charger at a gas station.
Today I got a job as dishwasher and cleaner at a local diner. It's a low paid job, but I don't mind. I get a lot of thinking done while washing dishes... Thoughts like: If I stay long enough, I might bump into a certain black panther again...
I'm cleaning up after a couple of rather messy soldiers when I suddenly hear: "Hello sailor!" Turning around, I come face to face with no other than Paddy. Suddenly the day became inte esting.
So, what is a beautiful girl like you doing at a place like this? Shouldn't you be out breaking young mens heart?
Ok, so it isn't exactly the most original pickup line ever used, but who cares.
Oh, I just popped in for a quick bite before I begin my duty at the hospital. You're not trying to hit on me with those lines, are you?
Make it a joke, you dunderhead!
Of course I am. You know, we sailors have a girl in every port, and since you're the prettiest one around, why not...
Her only answer is laughter. Saved! Get a girl to laugh with you, instead of at you and you're halfway there.
So, you work here?
Make it lighthearted, you're on a win here....
Well, yes. it was either this or become a senior software developer for Microsoft. I just picked the cleanest of them...
Really? i thought you were a sailor, not a programmer.
I know many things, and have done more in my time. I have been a soldier, and I know how to milk a cow, drive a tractor, and even make Windows become stable...
No... I was a network engineer slash helpdesk operator before I became a sailor. Let's just say that there's not a single Windooze PC on my boat.
I meant about milking cows...
Oh ,yeah... One of my uncles have a farm, and I filled in for him when he got sick. So after mucking out cow dung, cleaning up here's no problem.
Do you work her all the day?
No, just until after school, then a couple of students come in. I don't work on saturdays, and just the afternoons on sundays.
So, what do you do on saturdays then?
Not much, if the weather's good, then I go sailing. If not, then I do laundry...
Do you think that i could go sailing with you a day, then?
Ho BOY! Is she trying to hit on me?
Of course, just bring a life west, and come by before 10:00 in the morning any saturday you feel like. My boat is in berth 13 on pier M.
I might just do that. gotta go now, se you later!
I guess my life just became a lot better....
I'm a little bit tired today. I wonder why. Could it be because I spent the evening cleaning up and storing away? You know, just on the off chance that she really meant it...
Anyhow, I'm enjoying my second - or is it fourth, who's counting? - cup of tea, when I hear someone walking on the pier. Can it be? I peek out through the open hatch. False alarm, it's just some idiot ou to play around with his cabincruiser. You know the type, Captains hat, expensive shoes, cotton pants, white collared shirt, west, a 'better than you' attitude and NO idea of how to handle a boat. I hurry to fasten down all my kitchenware before he can un eash his waves. Why can't these morons learn NOT to use full speed in the marina?
"Ahoy the ship!"
I peek outside, and there stands Paddy. Great!. But there's someone with her?
I get out to get a better look.