Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Monday 20th July 1936

A sunny day. Out of harbour and to sea by 8.30.

Foulkes and I were in the lurching, oil-smelling focsle until 10 o’clock, being cooks. Spent the rest of the day on the iron deck – polishing it.

Land sighted in mid afternoon. Guernsey. Smaller islands in the distance beyond. Then the rocks of Jersey. Anchorage off St. Helier, 5.30. Rush to get clean and have tea and put on no. 1’s. Liberty boat for starboard watch.

A whaler, towed by the motor boat bounced ¾ mile to the jetty. Went into St. Helier with Burcombe and Sands. Friendliness of islanders; they touch a sailors collar for luck. Cheap baccy. 2 oz. Of Waverly only 1/3d. The beer was called Mary Anne. Some Lancashire tourists stood us a round.

10.30 liberty boat. Gay sailors, several tight. Gruff coxwain, “Get in quick. Put that fag out,” soon let us know we were not gods any longer but just a tough crowd of matlowes.

Over the dark sea. Ahead, from the motor boat was a light with the sihouette of a man against it. Singing men in the sternsheets of the whaler, around me. Spray flew out from the high bows. A dark, rocky headland, a red, flashing light.

As I soaked in all this romance I heard a queer sound. The man who shared my thwart began to vomit. “Ave you spewed in the boat?” asked the coxwain viciously. Romance and realism delightfully blended.


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