It’s been a long time. Far too long in fact. I can feel my bones shift into position as I take a heavier weight each day. But I knew this would happen. I knew that it would have to be like this.
Keep it together, Liz, keep it together.
I feel a calm resignation every day. I don’t even panic anymore. There have been so many set backs, cancellations and delays with Papageno that I’ve learned to take it all in my stride. Or maybe it’s not even taking it in my stride. Maybe I’ve just accepted it is the way it is, or maybe Papageno has just beaten me.
I don’t know. And I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as I carry on.
There’s a strange responsibility being a captain who shouldn’t be captain. I see the surprise on people’s faces when they ask who’s in charge of Papageno and they see my hand raised.
“Haha, yeah, but really?”
“No, I really am the Captain.”
“Oh… that’s nice!”
So nice. So nice in fact that I feel like my spine is turning to chalk each day as I get up and face another day of heat, another day of organisation, another day of trying to keep it all up and rolling for my crew who I desperately love.
I have dreams, I have aspirations, and one of them is to get Papageno out there and doing what she wants to do.
My day so far:
7am: I wake up alone in the cabin because of the mosquitos. They eat Edouard alive, forcing him to sleep in the cockpit. There weren’t too many the previous night, but we were all hot. We were excited the previous night because we had just had all of our dirty laundry washed. We went to bed after a cold shower at the marina and collapsed into our freshly washed sheets. I’ve never been so thankful to find my clothes smelling clean and have them beautifully folded.
I stayed up to put the usual things away in the saloon. I’m always worried that Leela will jump on the table and devour everything in sight- I still haven’t gotten over how she ate our entire packet of bacon that we were so excited to have for breakfast the next morning. Because we have our washing, I don’t want Edouard to wake up to a mess. He’s already collapsed in the cockpit and is fast asleep, so I put everything away and make our bed, shutting the cupboard doors quickly in case the hiding mosquitos get out.
7:30am Laura makes us porridge with proper oats. We had some awful Quaker stuff the other week with mushed up oats- it doesn’t feel very English. Edouard isn’t sure how he feels about the entire “eating oats” thing, claiming it’s for horses, not people. But Laura and I are incredibly enthusiastic about it this morning so he goes for it anyway, whacking a load of jam into his bowl. Laura chooses peanut butter (bleugh) and I choose chia seeds and brown sugar.
11am Edouard goes off in the dingy with Leela to go swimming. It’s far too hot for her and she’s usually panting under the table. She’s in the playful biting stage at the moment and loves to jump at our toes when we’re least expecting it. She’s not pooping on the boat anywhere- which is a small kindness, but enjoys pooping on the dock in front of other people’s boats. Edouard has been asked to clear up after her, and after throwing a bucket of water to clean up, the poop washes inside a man’s fishing boat. After being forced to jump in and throw it out by hand, we’re all keeping a watchful eye on where she chooses to go to the toilet.
Edouard and I go to get some supplies for lunch. The most important thing about keeping a crew together I’ve learned is keeping up morale- and that’s usually through our bellies. We’re incredibly happy if we’ve made a bowl of popcorn or have biscuits to dunk in our tea.
1:30pm Edouard makes us a salad with tomatoes, caramelised onions with a French mustard and balsamic dressing and cheese. I can barely eat all of mine because we ate a huge bag of crisps before as we were too hungry to wait. I think he doesn’t mind because he usually gets to eat my scraps.
4pm We all take a moment to relax. I go to my room for a lie down with my book whilst Edouard teaches Laura about map reading. I’ve been reading about The Great War recently and just finished The Forgotten Voices of the Somme. I devoured it and I’m now reading The Forgotten Voices of the Great War. It’s an account from soldiers from both sides, German, French and English and what they witnessed and felt. It’s been hugely humbling, and I tell myself everyday when I find it hard that I have nothing to complain about. I’m not a seventeen year old boy standing in a trench waiting to be told to go over and get shot down. I have all of my limbs, my health, I have water, food and I’m safe. I’m not at war. I should be grateful. And so, when I lie back and have their accounts echoing in my head, I feel relief coursing through me.
5pm I’m here in the office at the marina, trying to charge up our equipment. We’ve been forced to stop our usual pace of speed recently as we wait for a new head gasket for Papageno. I’m not sure how much it’s going to be or how much the mechanic is going to be, so I’m making sure to raise funds by doing something that gives me peace- painting.
And that is my day so far. I’m looking forward to going back to the boat and getting out my watercolours and I know Edouard is keen for me to do that as well. It’s been hard over the past few months and I barely recognise myself. But I’ve reached the big 30 now and I’m determined to carry on with renewed enthusiasm and vigour. My crew relies on me. I didn’t realise how heavy that would feel. To always be able to keep it together to not affect anyone. I want a happy and safe crew. I want everyone to have a positive experience out of this.
But at the moment I know it’s been difficult. It’s been hard, but we’re all trying. We’ll be leaving St Kitts soon and will be heading to Monserrat and then Guadeloupe for a week. After that? Martinique for the serious repairs. Not to mention my parents are coming over to see me in September in St Lucia.
So, there’s a lot of good things happening and a lot to be thankful for.
And I’m actually proud of myself. I’m doing this. We’re doing this.
We’re not going to stop. Papageno will prevail.
“Stiff upper lip, ol’ chap!”
That’s the British way.
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WE LOVE YOU GUYS!
Lizbef, Edouard, Laura and Leela! x
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