“Hurts like buggery!”
After dinner last night Dodgy read us pirate stories. This was a lot of fun because he has a very gravelly voice and he even kind of looks like a pirate. I wish I had a camcorder to capture it. The sky was cloudy so no stargazing for once. Though I am amazed at how nice the weather has been for the entire cruise.
This morning I wasn’t feeling 100%. The infected oyster cut on my foot was bugging me, and my burnt red skin was warm and overly sensitive. I was also sore from all the swimming I did yesterday. The sunlight was bothering me to the point that I sought out shady areas, or covered my arms and legs with my towel as the sun hit. I did some early morning diving off the bow into the ocean to cool down and clear the fuzz out of my head. It helped a little.
This is Dodgy’s last day as a crewman for the Solway Lass. The rest of the crew played practical jokes on him mercilessly. Right after he woke up they poured seawater and flour on his head — this I got on film. It was classic. They also poured mayonnaise into his boots but the real kicker was this: as he piloted the dingy to help maneuver the Solway Lass into the docks, the bosun Pete leaned over the bow and poured a nearly full bucket of bilge on him. He howled in rage — the bilge is like shit and vomit mixed. Extremely vile. But Dodgy did manage to get Pete back — as the bosun tied the ship to the dock, Dodgy scooped up a bucketful of the filth in his dingy and flung it back, nailing him precisely in the face. After he got back on board Dodgy warily glanced around, always keeping a wall behind his back and brandishing a can of incredibly foul-smelling fish oil. He looked like a cobra backed into a corner. It was rich. I like Dodgy. He plays it very tough, a cackling party animal, but he’s bright. (The backpacking crowd is a lot of fun, but they aren’t always the sharpest knives in the drawer.) He really likes pirate stories and sea literature, and he can critically analyze the stories. He wants to write stories like that himself. I suggested that he check out Rime of the Ancient Mariner, not only for the Coleridge but also the fantastic Gustav Dore engravings that go with it. He’d like to memorize the entire poem and recite it to passengers. I hope he does it.
Dodgy gets nailed.
The rest of the last day on board was an eclectic set of experiences. My camera magically began to work again. People here like to roll their own cigarettes. There was a rope-swing competition that I helped to judge. I gave extra points to anyone who face planted into the water. People also got extra points for swinging nude, or for landing painfully. No one took the first option, though from reading the ship’s passenger log I see that other cruises were less prudish. One memorable bit: When Michael swung out and resurfaced, he shouted “It hurts like buggery!” I took some last pictures of people. There was a group of French engineers who work on a solar car racing team. I got a picture of one of them as he let got of the rope-swing to land in the water. A German passenger, it was discovered, had taken a large coral formation from one of the beaches. This is illegal; the islands are part of a park system, and removing anything from the beaches results in a A$10,000 fine for the person and an A$30,000 fine for the boat crew. The bosun took the chunk of coral back. I think the German just didn’t know the rule. He wasn’t the criminal type.
The crew asked us all to join them for a party later that evening at Morocco’s, a bar on the strip at Airlie Beach. We got back to dry land at 4:00 so I had over three hours to kill. After I checked back into Magnum’s I took a long, long shower. It felt great after all that sun and salt and sand and rationed water. They discourage you from taking lengthy showers aboard, not to mention you shower standing next to a toilet in a stall, which doesn’t give you much space. After I moved my stuff into the hostel cabin I checked email. I made the mistake of helping one person who asked, and so everyone in there began to ask for help. I need to teach my tongue to say “I don’t know.” I reloaded from an ATM, bought a new pair of Teva’s (the old ones were shot), and generally, if you get the idea I was running around a lot, you’re getting the right picture. I ran into Lauren the waitress at Magnum’s again. Even now, the next day in the morning, as I sit at one of the benches, she’s setting up the restaurant for today.
There’s weren’t many people at Morocco’s that night. The Solway Lass party was small, none of the crew had yet arrived. We had a few drinks and waited patiently. Eventually it got to be 9:00 PM so we took our table and ordered dinner. The captain showed up just as I got a jug of Toohey’s New. Good timing. Morocco’s was playing music videos on several huge wall-mounted monitors. Leonie wanted to dance and so did I, so we got up on stage, but the music was too quiet and the music was too boring to sustain interest. So we opted to find a new bar or club. Airlie Beach is full of them. In fact almost every backpacker’s hostel out here has a huge bar out front. Undoubtedly convenient. As were were leaving Morocco’s we ran into Pete and Dodgy! Massively late, of course. They still wanted to go to Morocco’s but Pete recommended we go to a bar called Charlie’s for dancing. The plan was that they would catch up with us shortly thereafter. Then later we’d get to a pure dance club. (This is the way it has to work: First bars then clubs. Because you can really only pick up girls at bars; then you bring them to the clubs. The dance club is too loud to talk.) Most of the Lass party made it to Charlie’s. We lost Karen and Carey. They are so inseparable, and look so similar, you begin to think of them as a single individual with two bodies. It was rumored they were lesbian, but the reason they never made it to Charlie’s is that a guy snagged them on the way and talked them into going somewhere else, so I doubt this. While I was at Morocco’s Karen taught me how to roll a cigarette. “Not bad for a first try” was her polite if uncharitable verdict on the outcome.
Charlie’s was much better than Morocco’s. The band was good and we had the critical mass to get the dance floor moving. We danced for hours. I was hyper and euphoric. Julian, the quiet, educated British guy with poise, turned into an animal on the dance floor! He was drunk enough that he danced to the rhythm of the massive ceiling fans. But eventuallysome people got tired, or too drunk, and chose to leave kind of suddenly. With so many people leaving, mob psychology dictated that we all ought to leave. But just as we headed out the door, again we see Pete and Dodgy! Like patron saints of hedonism, they kept us going. We went back into Charlie’s. Mostly stood around and smoked hand-rolled cigarettes, courtesy of Craig. After a bit of this Craig and I decided to head for the Irish pub down the street. On the way, he confides in me that when he first met me, he thought I was a stereotypical rich American asshole. But as he got to know me, he thought I was a good guy after all. In fact, as it turns out, he considered me a “credit to my nation.” He was speaking from his ass but I knew he meant well. He said his initial hostility towards me was really jealousy of my Web career, and he asked me to teach him the Internet. I had no idea what this meant. Did he want to learn to program? This seemed far-fetched. But through drunken question I discerned what he really wanted was email to communicate, plus he wanted a way to find information. Once I realized this I offered to teach him the wonders of Hotmail and Google the next morning. He was really excited and eager, but I cynically attributed that to his being plastered more than anything else. So many ambitious plans made while drinking never come to pass, and I was pretty sure Craig isn’t the Internet geek type. But future events would surprise me.
I’d like to give you all a picture of Craig. He’s an interesting guy, and a lot of fun to party with. So here’s an email from Craig, exactly as I received it:
hi there my whitsunday sailing friend i,ve tried the net the other day to get your address well if you get this ithink i,m working this bitch of a machine out got an email from micheal but where i found your address his wasn,t there fuck my typing is slow come on silicone valley with the speak at it and it works computer programe what do you computer blokes do all day play games and suck piss anyhow thinking about necken back larger i,m about a 6 pack worth of thirsty just typiny thirsty oh no thats a7 pack shit i could dehydrate at this rate nah slip yahself an uppercut theres no chance of that you no me . punctuation big breath in i,m on the home strechspell check that would ya i,m in cairns get a map and look it up well just standin still up here makes ya thirsty so gotta go i,ve gotta work in the morning yeh got a job now parties gotta end some time nah bullshit i mustn,t be thinking straight probably the piss wearing off so back to the pub emailgo that didn.t work fuckers broken
And a brief message from Craig to America:
tell america i said to slip ya selves a quick uppercut