Flashback 2 – Oatmeal on the Frontline

It was bad enough to go down the companionway and prepare the oatmeal in the galley but to have it attacked viciously right before enjoying it was outright disgusting. There are two states to living aboard a boat, a state of peace and a state of war. Peace starts as soon as you drop your anchor, well, most of the times that is. Shortly after you lift your anchor and head out to sea, a state of general warfare is declared. The straight and predictably linear acceleration of gravity agreed to by all things on land becomes a lawless chaos of jerky motions. Things don’t ask twice, some not even once, before flying off the shelf if they have not been properly stowed. Seemingly simple tasks like pouring water from the kettle into cups become an ordeal worthy of a circus act. Your own body is also one of those objects thrashing around on an unpredictable zigzag path, like being dowsed by two bottles of the finest Jamaican Rum after years of abstinence. Jamming your hips against the countertop and locking your feet far apart on either side of the floorboards you try to hold yourself in a position to leave your upper body swaying just enough to reach drawers and open the lid of the pan to stir the bubbling lava that could at any moment come flying your way. In short the usually so joyful task of cooking up our breakfast, filled with delicious odors anticipating the upcoming feast for the taste, becomes an act of duty, which you do to keep yourself and your crew fit for the battles ahead. The whole affair is hastened even further along by the growing uneasiness in your digestive tract, which leaves you a window of time to complete your task before your cramping stomach transforms your community service into something much less pleasing.

We had left the silhouette of mighty Mauna Loa sink into the sea behind our port stern a couple days before and as you may have seen from our last sequence of photos, shot and uploaded from my cell phone while still in the coverage area of Hawaii’s cellular networks, the heaving up and down of Aluna’s bows where quite substantial and most of all relentless. So the faces of all three of us where of rather grey complexion once we were gathered around the steaming and now suddenly very appetizing pot of oatmeal I had after all managed to coax into existence. The cut up banana and papaya provided for some visual appeal and raisins and a mix of nuts added more bits of healthy zeal. In another circus act like gesture I emptied the content of the pot into three bowls, which immediately started sliding around the cockpit floor with the motion of the rocking boat. Their movements were quickly brought under control by nimble hands, one holding on to the rim of the bowl and the other now armed with a spoon. The spoon was now driven by the archaic anticipation of the immense satisfaction awaiting the taste buds. Imagine it in slow motion, the movement initiates in the shoulder joint, which lifts the entire arm, while the elbow compensates for the pretty drastic deceleration caused by Aluna’s twin bows digging into yet another wall of water rolling towards us. The wrist aligns the spoon just right to scoop up the first morsel of nutrition, while the ever-eager mind might have a split second to wonder how none of those crashing encounters of ship and water is exactly the same. Some set up a flurry of white salty spray shooting straight up into the air, where it rests suspended for a mere instant before crashing into whatever lies downwind of it. Others simply part the watery surface smoothly without even causing one additional ripple. By now the oval cup of the spoon has submerged deep into the fact of the matter and a rotation of the two slender bones in the forearm starts the process of extraction. The minds eye is torn here in one of its notorious should-I-go-here-or-there-situations, between the reawakened memory of previous sensual overloads provoked by the contact of freshly cooked food with the hungrily wiggling taste buds and a strange premonition, actually foreseeing the future around a bend in time, realizing that the contact between that particular wave train and Aluna’s line of movement might have been of the first kind, sending up a sheet of spray up the port hull side with enough violence to advance slightly into the hissing trade winds before coming to a sudden stop and beginning its fateful voyage over the toe rails, the spare main sail that is stored on the edge of the hull, the hatch cover of the forward port compartment, number two beam, the lid of the port engine compartment and just grazing the inner corner of the tumblehome the mass of tiny droplet of salty water is now ready to fulfill its one and only destiny, which consists of two nasty strikes against those three careless intruders into the wild wet world of water: Drench our clothes down to the skin on the windward side of our bodies and, the worst of the two, fill our oatmeal bowls to the rim with a salty sludge. There’s an empty stare for a moment in the three pairs of eyes and some nasty swearwords make their way from the cortex to the vocal cords. They are intercepted however by the only real weapon capable of ending the war of living on a boat at sea. A hearty laugh has intercepted the swear words, shakes the three wet bodies creating ripples on the salty pond in the island of oatmeal, then bursts out past the three tongues and many more teeth, blowing little bubbles at all six corners of the three pairs of lips, just like little girls in colorful skirts, jumping gaily around a well manicured lawn and blowing soap bubbles in the gleaming sunlight somewhere in a more privileged corner of the earth.

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