I woke up the next day still feeling tired. I wanted to go back to sleep but Alex and Brian were in the lounge discussing a project. Sighing, I pulled back the curtain and swung my legs over the side.
“Good morning, Lizbef!” Brian announced.
I mumbled a reply and shuffled off to the kitchen to make a coffee. Opening the fridge, I pull out a large container of yoghurt. It’s difficult to keep stuff like that fresh, so we make it ourselves with an EasiYo maker from powdered form. It’s a little bit of luxury for me as I pop in some muesli and drizzle some honey. Walking up into the cockpit to have my breakfast, I see Lisa up with the others and sunbathing on the back.
“How are you feeling?” I asked her as I settled down on the pillows.
“Much better now, thanks!” she said cheerily. “Karin gave me some drugs!”
“I gave her the hardcore sea sickness pills,” Karin added, sitting back in the sunlight.
We asked how each other slept and discussed our night watches. I was excited as I told them of the previous night and they seemed as surprised as me that something like that could happen.
“I wish you could have seen it…” I murmured, leaning back and closing my eyes. A nap would be required today.
Going back below, I lay on the couch, my body demanding I rest. When I moved my skin would erupt in hot sweats, making me want to lie down on the floor. I had dreaded sea sickness on the first day of passage, but this was something else.
This was the detox sweats.
I had given up tea, nicoteine, alcohol and all of the delicious things I loved to eat in one fell swoop. I was putting health back into my cells and my body was not enjoying it one bit.
The day was probably my least favourite. Everything seemed harder to accomplish, there was always something else to do before you got to do the thing you wanted to do and nothing was where you put it last. I felt miserable, sick and suddenly felt a pang of loneliness. I wanted someone to make it better.
I wanted comfort.
I groaned as I rolled over, eyeing my bed. I wanted to move into it but was too tired. I never watch shows or movies without the crew, but this time all I wanted to do was curl up, have a cup of tea and watch a Disney film.
Too bad about the tea ban.
My watch soon arrived and I came above deck to do my 3-6pm shift. I couldn’t touch the dinner that Lisa had made and asked for toast instead, needing something dry in my stomach. When finally it was over, I shuffled back below and climbed into my bunk, pulling out my laptop and sticking on an episode of Vikings.
I always feel guilty when I don’t do something productive. I feel as though I’m wasting time if I spend it watching a film and should be writing instead. But this time it felt nice to just enjoy something as simple as a TV show. As I sat there wrapped in a blanket, Karin stood in front of me.
Reaching forwards, she wrapped me up in an unexpected embrace.
“I felt as though you could do with a hug,” she said, her arms still tightly around me.
I hugged her back in surprise, feeling unexpected tears spring to my eyes. I didn’t realise how much I needed that hug. That compassion.
She realised me with a smile.
“Thank you, love,” I said. “I really appreciate that.”
My hug batteries were happy and I felt my mood lift instantly.
My night shift came and went and soon it was morning again. It was also my cooking day.
Now, cooking or preparing any sort of food and drink on Delos is never straightforward when on passage- and sometimes even at anchorage, depending on the waves.
No bowl can be left simply on the side, for when the next wave hits, things constantly go flying and curses that would make even Blackbeard blush are howled. Everything is considered. Where to safely put a knife as I pick up a chopping board. Bracing my feet at either ends of the kitchen so I don’t go skidding into the navigation station. Opening cupboards and shutting them immediately so the doors don’t constantly clang against the wall. Hearing the shout “big wave!” and clinging onto anything for dear life.
Brady stumbles into the saloon, blinking blearily. “Liz!” he screeches. “When’s lunch? Daddy’s hungry!”
I turn to him in surprise. “Wha-?”
“Daddy’s hungry!” he repeats, plonking himself down on the sofa and opening his laptop.
I raise an eyebrow.
We have started to call Mr Brady “The Grub.” And when the Grub was hungry…
Well, may the Gods help you.
“I suppose that means you want lunch now?” I said, pulling out a frying pan. Knowing that time was of the essence to fill The Grub’s belly, I whip up beans, cheese and egg on toast for everyone. Because I’m still on this health kick, I make garlic scrambled egg on banana bread for myself.
Soon, Brady was contented, his stomach full and his mouth covered in bean juice.
“Thanks Liz!” he crowed happily like a five year old, handing me back his plate. I half expected for him to ask for a lollipop or to go on the swings.
That’s the beauty of cooking day. When you cook- you clean. So you only have to do the washing and cooking once every six days. Which also means, when it’s our turn, we actually really make an effort.
It’s been an awesome learning curve for me. I always thought I could cook. But on this journey I’ve learned an incredible amount.
On this evening, I fried wahoo fish in a garlic sauce, sautéed onions and couscous. It went down a treat, if I say so myself.
Without us really taking notice, we’ve been eating earlier and earlier in the day. It’s been a strange thing to acknowledge. We hardly realise we’re moving half the time. But we’ve started to be able to tell with the later rising of the sun every day. As we’ve been travelling, the time of day has been gradually changing. We usually eat dinner between 6-7pm, but find in reality, we’ve probably been eating at around 3pm-5pm in the afternoon.
Because I live in the lounge, my pet peeve at the moment is if people leave their plates in the sink after washing at night. With the waves, they clink, meaning that I get woken up often and have to get out of bed and hunt down the offending noise maker. There’s usually always something making a clatter at night, whether it’s the thermos flasks whacking into one another, the spices clanking on the rails or a ceramic cup thudding into one of our metallic cups.
I’ve imagined Karin has woken up in the morning, confused at the new weird arrangement of her kitchen utensils after I’ve sound proofed everything in the dark.
Content with a cooking success, I dry up everything, put it away and content myself on the sofa with a coffee and attempt to get some writing done.
I’m on the 6-8am shift in the morning, which is my favourite. You get to see the best of the night and the day. So when my alarm has finally gone off, and I’ve shuffled up to the cockpit to take over from Brady, I can enjoy two shows of nature.
I stick my head out of the sunroof, enjoying the salt spray as I steer Delos on course, shooting stars scoring white lines in the sky. An hour and a half passes and soon the sky starts to lighten, as if someone has lit a small fire below the horizon, the warmth seeping through the clouds and turning everything into pinks, pale purples and oranges, until- finally-
The sun rises and the clouds burn with that sudden gold.
I’ll stop everything that I’m doing just to watch that moment.
Soon Brian comes to take over, and I shuffle back down below to catch an extra couple of hours sleep. From that point, sleeping schedules become easier and the most natural. My next watch that day would be 8pm till 10pm, the day after that would be a morning shift of 8am till 10am and the day after that would be a 10pm till midnight and a morning shift of 10am till 12. This is what I call the sweet spot of the schedule. These two days are the days where you can get the most natural length of undisturbed sleep- that’s if people don’t wake you up in the middle of the night.
Days pass on Delos, the group eating together, laughing, working on projects, relaxing, sunbathing and watching the odd film or episode of Black Sails.
I get given a job of fixing the sails. During our passage, 3 out of 4 of the flags have become torn. All except my English flag that I made out of shower curtain and permanent red marker.
The word “smug” doesn’t even cover it.
I cut up parts of more leftover shower curtain and use it to patch up the other flags, relying on the permanent markers we have to colour in the strips from the American flag, the blue from the Swedish and red from the Austrian. It takes me all day, my stitches not necessarily the “neatest” but I double over everything to make sure it’s secure and firm. By the end of it, they look definitely more piratey than they did before.
“Just so you know, after all of this- you have to keep these as your permanent flags,” I tell Brian.
“Of course, Lizbef!” he laughs.
I grin. “You may need to top up the pen every three months however…” I add, remembering arriving at St Helena with my proud English flag reduced to a seemingly white surrender flag.
I do my day and night watch and forget to write in my log both times.
“Lizbef!” Alex calls whilst I’m in the bathroom. “You forgot your log again! That means you need to be punished!”
“Eh?” I hear a click across the door and frown. Reaching forwards I unlock it and try to pull it open to no avail.
She’s locked me in.
“Alex!” I call. “You better let me out of here right now!”
“Nope! You need to learn a lesson!”
“This is what you get!”
Brian is calling me from the kitchen and I’m wailing to him that I’ve been locked in the toilet. Alex comes by to tease me so I grab hairspray and spritz it over the side, throwing water over her.
“I’m going to count to three, Alex!” I say, stomping my foot. “One!…Two!”
I try the door and it’s still locked and I know she’s sitting back down in front of her laptop.
“Two and a half…!”
“Lizbef!” calls Brian again.
“Three!” I try the door. Still locked. “Alex!”
A click happens and I stumble out to see Brian walking away. I turn the corner to find the Californian grinning on the sofa and jump on her straight away.
“Get off me!” she howls.
Madness ensues. We’ve all gone slightly bonkers over the last week. The sea does that to you. We’ve become six huge weirdos. And it’s only getting worse. When Saturday hit, Brady and Alex arranged a “date night”, booking a cinema, calling each other from work to let each other know that they would be late and making a show of booking tickets online.
“We’re going to be late,” Alex complained to Brady. “We’ve got to go and pick up snacks yet!”
I look at one of them to the other, my fingers frozen over my keyboard as I witnessed all of this. Of course there was no cinema, no boss and no traffic to be worried about. We were in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. But it was fun to play along.
My main concern was- what were my Saturday night plans?
Needing to force Brian into a written contract where he agreed to watch an episode of Black Sails for me in return for a painting for one of his episodes, my Saturday night was booked out.
Like I said- we’re all going slightly mad.
Luckily, it’s all been caught on camera- so there’s that to look forward to.
More days pass, night watches come and go until we are at the point we are now.
It’s a good feeling today. Not only have I discovered that Alex has forgotten two of her logs in a row, we’re three days sail away from our destination. I’m more than excited for this- mainly because I can’t wait to speak to Edouard to see if he still wants me to come to France.
If not, I will be continuing my journey with Delos until they pretty much kick me off the boat.
Read more from Lizbef here! www.earlewrites.com