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Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Old Man and the Sea*

Aye, the sea she was rough that day, me hearties. Never was there such a tempest brewed up so wicked as what awaited us that fateful day out at Castlepoint.

The prior day's journey out proved a cunning deceit as it was warm and sunny, with but a few clouds scattered across the blue sky. A commandin' wind scattered them few and far between so they could not blot out the sun in their jealous manner.

Sadly on this day most of us were actin' the part of lubbers, leavin' the beguilin' calm of the sea for the next day. Our folly can be excused only by the solid-as-granite fact that no mere man can e'er predict the weather, especially in this fine country of New Zealand.

At the very least my mates and me got to enjoy various pursuits out of doors, plunderin' all of the fruits that the Castlepoint community had to offer. Some of us fished off of the dangerous razor-sharp reef, no stranger to the killin' of men and marked by a skull-and-crossbones sign. Still others scouted up to the very pinnacle of Castlepoint, so named by Captain Cook and his men for its resemblance of the battlement of a castle. So precipitous is the drop from up there that I defy any one of ye to take a look o'er the edge without succumbin' to vertigo. The sheer cliff face drops off to the churnin' sea below, actually disappearin' into the hill underneath before meetin' the jagged rocks at the bottom. Ye truly are juttin' out on the very edge, much like it feels to walk the dreaded plank. The footpath itself be merely inches wide at the top, forcin' ye to walk one foot in front of t'other in this bravest of territories. Don’t be expectin’ the wind to give ye safe passage, neither, for it forever be tryin’ to blow ye off the top of the craggy peak. It’s envious of the reef below, y'see, for although it has sent more than a few idle blokes to their death below, it cannot claim half so many victims as the evil reef to its north. Together they form a beautiful yet fatal guardian to the shallow lagoon between them.

A mite more peacefully across the lagoon from these natural scalawags is the bluff on what perches the lighthouse. Ye can still fall to yer untimely death from these heights, if ye so desire, although ye’d have to try a stitch harder than ye would at the reef or the 'point. There be caves carved by the sea 'round its base, but don't be expectin' me to stash me booty in any of them for they're far too bloody obvious. This impressive bluff of limestone be a good spot to look out to sea for corsairs and potential plunder.

'Twas from this dangerous lagoon that my mates and me sallied forth on the Legionaire that day, what dawned with many a whitecap on the ocean. A threatenin' grey sky with a leaden belly loomed above. Fearless and foolish we may have been; ne'ertheless, we sailed out into the Big Blue. After layin' our nets down to catch any fish or crays near the shore (“Plan B”), we shot past the smaller of the two boats and out to the Deeps.

We were forced to stay close enough to land that we could still see it, yet the low-flyin' grey rain clouds hung low enough to block the coast from the horizon. Bein' the old salts that we were, we still knew the shore was there, tho’ we could not always see it.

Between the rain spittin' in our faces and the black sea splashin' up o'er the sides of the craft, we weighed anchor at a choice spot and immediately proceeded to plunder what the sea she would give us.

Mad Tony the Executioner and Russell the Bloodstain were the first victims of the ocean that day, both spendin' much of their time on board horizontal and green, when they weren’t havin’ a chunder o'er the edge.

Undaunted by the treacherous weather, the rest of us grabbed our rods and thrust them into the water, in the hopes of hookin' some choice dinner.

Bilge Rat Bob was the first in the water with his pole, and within seconds he had snagged some Spotty on each of his three hooks. This promisin' feat would prove to be as diabolical as the Razor Reef back home, as the rest of our trip was spent tryin' in vain to equal the excitement of that quick catch.

Our fearless cap'n, Pegleg Bob, decided he’d had enough and didn’t want the sea tryin' to claim the Legionaire as her own. So we drew anchor and headed for safer ports near home.

Futile this would be, as even tho' we were closer to shore and in calmer seas, Mad Tony and Bloody Russell continued to jettison the contents of their stomachs. When those were empty of all they held, the two men remained wracked with anguish and the bloody dry heaves.

Catchin' a wee three sharks in this spot, we decided to surrender to the sea that day. The sun ne'er did come out from behind the sullen sky, nearly the sea’s equal in the wrath meted out on our ship.

We finally made harbour north o' the lighthouse, and immediately Mad Tony’s spirits improved. We caught a lone bass, too small for keepin’, but were able to have a good feast on the barbecue. Mad Tony put away all of his share of grub - aye, and a bottle of grog, too - altho' Bloody Russell was still nowhere to be found above decks.

The lone bit of mirth we had, aside from watchin' Tony’s vomit spray all o'er the backs of Cash-Strapped Jimmy and "Blood and Guts" Lois as it whipped 'round the mast pole and come back into the ship, was the crackin' of the picnic table.

As we made our way back across the waves - four-meter swells, some o' them - Pegleg Bob’s 1300-horsepower engine generated a centrifugal force on board that was somethin’ fierce.

Seated at the picnic table with me were Iain the Bitter, "Blood and Guts", and Fartin' Steve Bellamy. I noticed earlier one of its bolts be weakenin’ as the table rocked to-and-fro in sync with the motions of the craft o'er the waves. Yet this were the first time there were four of us seated at the table, and at a time when we were travelin' at our fastest o'er the waves at their angriest.

With a sudden loud ‘CRACK!’ the table gave way under poor Iain. As I looked on diagonally across the wreckage from me, wonderin' if Iain be injured in any way, "Blood and Guts" Lois to me right remained pinned to the deck but gripped in fits of laughter. So was Fartin' Steve, directly across from me, who had leapt up and was pointin' down at poor Iain and laughin' heartily.

Iain was red-faced as I’ve ever seen a man. He lay on his backside, and as yet I could not see if he had been damaged by the splintered table but I would soon realize all that was injured was his pride.

Bitter Iain, being the portliest of all of us, had been sittin' right o'er where the table strut had split asunder, tho' I do not think the sole reason for its crackin' was his weight alone. 'Twere the motion of the four of us and the sea that did it in, tho' it still didn’t stop the piss-takin' Iain would get for the rest of the day. We had to look smartly as we cleaned up the wreckage, lest Pegleg Bob find out and take it out on us with the lash. Didn't want the cat comin' out o' the bag on that stormy day, me hearties! Nay!

That night we took our tea at Cap'n Pegleg Bob’s tavern, and much ribbin' and jestin' returned the sense of good humour, stolen earlier that day by the ever-unpredictable and fickle sea.

I meself did not catch anythin' except Iain’s own fishin' line – on two different occasions – but at least I got out there and survived the pitchin' and rollin' without a hint o' the sickness. I earned me ‘sea legs’ that day, and once we returned to shore, I could still feel the constant churnin' of the sea under me, tho' we be on dry land.

The sea, she calls to me still. It be in me Portuguese blood, and I must return to her again one day soon.


Signed in blood and the Ink of the Kraken,

"Monkey" Brooksie Da Silva

* With all due respects to Papa, International Talk Like A Pirate Day, and, well, all good quality writers everywhere. And as it was me birthday and I turned the ripe old age of 37, I be thinkin' the title of this postin' appropriate. If ye disagrees with me, ye'd best be singin' a different tune, ya bastards!


Blogger Beechball * said...

Hahaha, omg Brooksie, you did SUCH a fantastic job of writing this post, I heard the pirate accent in my head the ENTIRE time I read through it; Loved it! I am totally in the mood to watch Pirated of the Carribean now and if it just so happens to be on Tv right now, I might scream with joy! haha - You have taken some really, really great photos that I have stolen from you... which I hope you don't mind, but they're beautiful!!! It looked like you have a really great time, and enjoyed yourself! Congrats on getting your sea legs me friend! :P Arrrrrgg Mate!

7:06 AM  
Blogger Brooksie said...

Well thank you, Lyndsay! My head is the size of Jupiter right now, but I am very glad you enjoyed that post! I had a lot of fun writing it, and the Pirates of the Caribbean movies are some of my very favorite! I hope you get to see it again soon, and if you were anywhere near I'd loan ya both copies of mine. Ya scallywag! Arrr!

As far as the pictures go, steal away. New Zealand is so beautiful in so many places, it's insanely easy to take a good picture - just point and shoot!

10:00 PM  

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