SALT WATER LOVE
It was a spring day, and there was a gentle breeze, just enough to set the little wavelets skimming across the harbor like so many small ladies flashing their white petticoats to the blueness of the sea.
He shifted his mind back to the task at hand. The boat would never become ready by itself.He shifted the buoyancy bags, checked the ropes and pulleys, then filled the fuel and water tanks. All looked ready. He had already planned his course and passed it to the harbormaster.
This adventure, to take the boat round the coast and up the River Avon, had been planned for some time. He gave one last look at the gently dancing waves, cast off, and ran up the sail.
Once clear of the harbor, the fresh breeze sent him skimming along the wave tops. This was the life, man as one with nature. He lost all track of time until his stomach told him it was time to eat. Putting the boat on autopilot, he went below, cut some large chunks of bread and made himself some doorstep sandwiches.
He was just making his way on deck again when his eyes caught sight of a small craft on the port bow. It looked to be in some form of distress, as he turned his boat towards it, a slim arm waved from the aft deckhouse. He moved along side and could just make out the face of a woman who seemed to be propped up against the tiller. Seeing trouble, he quickly tied the boats together and leapt over to the smaller sailing vessel.
A smile mixed with a grimace of pain met him.
"Am I glad to see you," said a voice that set his pulse running. Bloody tankers, no lookout, not nothing just straight on, and the wash hit me, and.. well.. "
She pointed to her ankle, which seemed twice the size of the other one. Luckily he had some grasp of first aid and soon realized that the ankle was broken. Going back to his own boat, he went to the first aid box and took out some painkillers.
"Here,” he said. "Take these. They will help
She sucked the tablets down, and soon the look of pain eased from her face.
He did not know how long she had been like this, but it must have been some time, as she was soon either asleep or had passed out. He quickly and carefully lifter her in his strong arms, and took her carefully over to his own boat.
He gently lay her in the bunk, making sure she was safe. He noticed the loveliness of her face and the soft smile that played round her lips.
He then want back and tied her boat astern of his making sure it was set for towing.The last thing he wanted was a whale dragging behind him. Once done and back on board his own boat, he got them underway then went below to check his charge.
She was zonked, soundo. The tablets seemed to have done their work.
Gently he undid her jeans and removed them as well as her shoes and socks to inspect a her ankle. He let out a low whistle. “Wow” he thought to himself, that looked really sore. His respect for the now sleeping woman increased. She must have been in some pain for a while.
He tucked her in, first removing her wet jacket and jumper, and made a hot drink.
What to do, the nearest place to stop was over one hundred miles away.
He was looking at the map when she stirred. He went over to her, taking a steaming cup of tea with him. “Here,” he said, helping her sit up. ”Drink this. It always helps me.”
She took the offered cup, and gave him a smile that seemed to light the very cabin. “Thanks,” she said. “Sorry to be such a pain.”
She tried to move, but winced in pain, and perhaps embarrassment as she realized that she had lost some of her clothing.
He smiled and said, “Sorry, but you were so wet … I thought it better, again, no comma, but an ellipse…”
He stopped as she grinned at him, . " No matter," she said and again that smile played around the edges of her mouth.
He made sure she was ok okay before making his way back on deck. The smile she had given him seemed to fill his mind as he sorted out the course for the next town. His thoughts were only stopped when a crash came from below. Quickly he rushed down
“Sorry,” she said,. “I was trying to help.”
She was out of bed and attempting to wash the dishes. But standing on one leg in a boat, no matter how gently the rocking, was not easy.
Before he knew it, he swept her into his arms and dumped her gently back in the bed.
"Hey, Miss Stubborn. Get some rest. Those things can wait."
She pouted a very charming pout. “It's not Miss Stubborn, it's Wendy, actually, but you can call me Genie. No, I will not tell you why."
She put stuck out her tongue at him, and laughing, he went back on deck.
When he came down some time later, she was fast asleep.
He sat watching her peacefully sleeping and realized just how beautiful she really was. Her face was angelic, her form half hidden by the blankets was such that a man could only dream of.And he already he new of her bravery and humor. He smiled to himself. She was some girl, this Genie.
The night passed slowly. He tucked himself in to the stern of the boat, watching the night skies and the stars that all good sailors know to love. He sipped from the flask of strong coffee prepared earlier, and started to think what he should do. He must drop Genie off and have her ankle looked at, but part of him wanted her to be there with him. As dawn started to kiss the sky, his tired salt-covered eyes told him it was time to rest.
He set the boat on autopilot, and went below, falling into the spare bunk. His eyes shut before his head hit the pillow. He was woke some time later by the smell of bacon being cooked, to find a fresh cup of tea waiting by his side. His sleep fuddled sleep-fuddled brain took a few minutes to take it all in. He looked up to see the smiling face of Genie. Somehow she had managed to get some of his spare clothes on and was walking about with the aid of a broom, looking like something out of Treasure Island.
“Awake at last skipper?” she said with that mischievous smile again playing round her lips.Smile playing around her lips again. “ We are on course, and I thought you might be hungry.”
He wolfed down the offered bacon sandwich and drank the tea. He didn’t thank her for cooking for him?
“Just thought I’d say thank you for saving me.” She smiled, and in that moment of a smile he decided that he did not want her to leave the boat. He wanted her to stay.
Once they finished eating, he helped her up on deck, they sat together watching the boat carve through the seas, talking about all and nothing. He found out about her, what she had been doing, where she was going, he told her of his plans, and she seemed to listen and take it all in.
Eventually he asked her about staying on after her ankle had been looked at.
Then, she smiled that smile, which would have outshone any star from the previous night’s sky.
“ Of course I’d love to say.” she answered, and his heart skipped like a spring lamb.
The rest of the day was spent laughing and learning. Come mid-afternoon, they sailed into the harbor, and he helped her to the local hospital where after much waiting, it was found the ankle was not broken, just badly sprained. Strapped up, with a fresh supply of painkillers, and orders from the doctor to rest, they made their way back to the harbor. They sorted out the berthing of her boat, picked up the extra supplies wanted as there was now two of them, and as the sun set in the western sky, the boat sailed slowly out into the moonlit sea.
They settled into a routine, enjoying each other company and growing closer each night, until as the stars shone down on them one warm still evening, his arms wrapped around her. He leaned down and kissed her, with a kiss that was answered with such power and longing that his breath was completely taken away.
Huskily she said, “Now I can really thank you for saving me.” Taking his hand, she lead him to the cabin, where this time, she undressed for him, then removed his clothes.
Under the moons gentle light they found each other with a love and passion that neither of them expected but both desired. Bodies met and molded together, hearts joined as one. Cries of love and passion were lost on the night’s wings, until the dawn broke once more, they both knew that this was a different voyage. It was a voyage of love and of life. From that day, they would sail together.
Barry Eva 1999
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