28 August 2009

Infernal Yammering

Bravo Mike Perham for his youngest solo sail around the world.

As Cassell's press officer I promoted the Ken Parker-edited Robin Knox-Johnston bestseller of his momentous mucking about on some wide water.

Growing up in Hong Kong after the war, I crewed for a few hard cases who'd never settle for terra firma again.

In those days, the HK-Philippines jaunt was relatively pirate-free and a crate of decent San Mig awaitethed at t'other end.

One of my favourites was a gentle-tongued Scot (rare among sailors) who I later read must have endured appalling tortures under the Japanese in order to withhold names and supply routes. His excuse was that they couldn't understand his Pitlochry accent.

I remember one doldrum when he opened up:

Back when he was 17 he answered an advert as crew for a 2-man voyage.

  • After two days of silence en voyage, he made to make nervous chat - where was the guv'nor from? How did he catch the sailing bug, any family? Etc. Nil response.
  • Third day, silence.
  • Fourth day, another effort to start conversation.
  • Fifth and sixth days, he'd got the message so he left it to the skipper to feel guilty and break the silence.
  • A whole week into the sail, he tried again ... what had been his worst experience at sea? How close had he come to Davy Jones' Locker?
  • The way he told it, without even looking round, the skipper had rasped,

    "Look, if you're going to keep up this infernal yammering ..."
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