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Could Have Fooled Me

By Chelsea McBroom

April 1st, 2014 (April Fool’s Day)

It was another beautiful evening aboard the Picton Castle and Anne was looking sorrowful as she came out of the charthouse, having found that we were again going slower than 2 knots. In trying to make it for our early morning meeting with the tug boat in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, she knew if we continued sailing at this speed, that we would need to motor.

The ship was rolling more exaggerated and the air was hot even as the sun lowered. Lily, our cook since Tahiti, outdid herself once again with fried fish and rice – favourite meal of Pania, our bosun. I was making coffee for the oncoming watch at around 1900. I grabbed the stainless steel thermoses from the aloha deck and hobbled to the galley. I went around the back of the galley house to turn the gas on, where a handful of off watch crew were sitting and giggling in the dark, and climbed in the galley door. I took the small box of matches and lit the first match which as usual fluttered out as I tried to light the bare skewer I had in my other hand. I cupped my hand and lit the next, finally keeping it alight long enough, smelling the gas, and continued to poke the skewer down to the pilot lights at each burner. I put on the kettle and a pot full of water and escaped the hot room to lean on the pin rail outside to wait for them to boil. It didn’t take long before coffee was done and I walked around the ship to make sure the next watch was awake. I found most of them in the salon reading, writing and listening to music.

I went to bed as soon as possible and woke many times with my head reaching as far as it could for the foc’sle hatch and the sheets sticking with humidity. Erin woke me at 3:30 and I sleepily prepared for the morning. I joined my watch on the hatch (Hugo, Mark, Anne, Kim and Lily had joined us for a few hours) when Sam, the watch officer, called down to us to clew up the mainsail. It seemed a random command given the calm and quiet, but we hopped to it. He returned shortly to call out loudly “Now bunt up! Come on!” and to me something seemed fishy. I stopped hauling lines and stood back to look up at the quarterdeck where Sam had been standing. Suddenly a light came on, shining on a US flag waving atop the spanker. And then Frosty, our plastic snowman decoration, lit up above the chart house. And quietly in the distance I could hear voices singing, then a bit louder and recognized the American anthem. What date was it? April 1st, 2014. April Fools. Supposedly Sam had told the Captain that there was a hole in the sail as we were clewing it up. I’m still not even sure the rest of my watch was awake enough to notice. Happy April Fools!

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