May 28th. 2018. As I warned you in my last episode our journey from Ponto Delgada on the Azores to Vigo in Spain was a miserable one.Five days in a row, from Tuesday night until Sunday morning we thrashed, bounced and crashed our way to our destination.
The Four Seasons made light of it, the wind was blowing Force 7 but
she wriggled through the 4 meter waves, perfectly in her element.
Unlike the crew.
Moving about on board we resembled apes, swinging ourselves from galley to wheelhouse and back. The trip was a five-day marathon, a gymnastic event, balance beam, parallel bars, horse and rings.
JB of L, our Baron van Münchausen, wasn’t happy at all, complaining of an upset stomach, angina and the prickly cough he has had for some years.Though he follows no known religion, he had chosen this week to fast and to spend his week of devotion in his cabin, only coming out when he had watch duty. We had to do without his pleasant company and exciting stories. Whether he had visions we will never know.
His father, Peter B, had his own problems but kept them to himself. Not a big talker at the best of times, this week I would put his output at a total of less than 100 syllables. In his defence I must add that he came down with something unpleasant; coughing like a roaring lion and bringing up slime, with an aching throat and a high temperature.
I prescribed antibiotica for the both of them, I thought this a good idea.
But no, ‘we will become resistant’, they replied as one.
Oh dear, resistance, experts obviously. Who is the doctor here on board?
You must take care that I don’t become resistant to you lot, I thought. If you are no better in Vigo you can choose between my antibiotica and a visit to the local doctor because I’m not happy with your condition.
Fortunately for them they were on the mend as we arrived in Vigo.
Peter W probably had a different sort of trip in mind when he decided to join us aboard for a week. Lying in the sun on deck, a bit of fishing, a gentle cruise. It was all very different and at one point he confided in me that in those few moments he was able to fall asleep he was having nightmares. Lying in his bunk in the galley he would imagine that the Four Seasons was falling apart in the enormous waves. Fortunately this was just a dream.
He was in the unique position of being able to see how well the No Limit boats that he builds stand up to extreme circumstances.
As for me, I found it a tough trip too. Never a quiet moment, the boat always in motion, even in bed you had to hold on or get thrown out.
Eating, drinking, a visit to the toilet, everything doing it’s best to get out of your mug, off of your plate and … well you get the idea. taking a shower was out of the question. There comes a moment where you even stop cleaning your teeth, toothpaste everywhere but on your brush.
After the first day, with four days still to go, you begin to wonder if you can keep it up. Even the knowledge that we had met these conditions before, between New Foundland and Nova Scotia, and made it through doesn’t help much.
Once again though we made it through and on Sunday morning as we spotted Vigo on the Spanish coast the weather took a turn for the better. The sun came out, the wind dropped, the waves got steadily quieter and Four Seasons glided through the water effortlessly.
The crew cheered up, life was worth living.
But we were not there yet. Behind us on the horizon we watched as a small object rapidly came closer. Customs, just what we needed.
We have company, I said, prepare to be boarded.
Within moments the fast RIB was up alongside with six heavily armed men in it. May we come aboard?
Rhetorical question, of course, one can hardly say no thank you.
So there we were with four dangerous looking Robocops filling our wheelhouse, the other two still sitting in the RIB.
One took off his helmet, he was a real person. Not just that, he looked quite friendly, possibly someone’s father, or grandfather and obviously the leader.
I didn’t have time to ask if he wanted to see photos of my grandchildren. In an English as clumsy as our Spanish he asked who the captain was. In a surprising moment of togetherness the team all pointed at me. What had I done?
We had to show all of the boat’s papers, insurance, our passports. Everything was on the table. Let the paperwork begin.
The leader asked if two of his men could inspect the boat. This usually means ‘turn everything upside down’ so I thought this was going to take a while. We had to sit down and keep quiet.
We had been through this before in Canada and it had taken more than four hours before we could go ashore. I didn’t want to go through all that again.
I came up with a plan and asked the commander if I could get something from my cabin. This was fine, we were both leaders, after all.
I collected a full coulour Four Seasons brochure and presented him with it. This pleased him greatly. Could he keep it? Of course you can, they are for special people.
It looked for a moment as if he was going to hug me, but then thought better of it.
And then that was it. There were no drugs on board, no drink, no stowaways, nothing.
As they left he asked politely if there was any complaint about their behaviour during the visit. Of course not, all the best of friends!
We were glad to see them leave and waved them off in their little boat as they headed for Vigo. Peter W called their RIB an excuse of a boat. Maybe they thought so too, after seeing Four Seasons at full speed.
We know where they can order one like it, No Limit Ships in Groningen.
Dear readers, that was the latest installment of The Men of the Four Seasons. Until next time,