Good morning all! Today I’d like to share a serious dilemma that I have been battling with in my spare time on board. What spare time I hear you ask? More on that later. The question to be debated is “What is better: port or starboard? Discuss.” Like with any good argument, I’ll begin below deck, aft. Port: James and Clare’s cabin. That’ll be two undisputed ticks for port. Starboard: Cliggy and Jon.
Score: two all.
Working forwards we have the galley to port, which means toaster, leftovers, fridge full of butter and cheese, kettle and caffetiere, and biscuits. Clearly winning. Starboard hosts the hifi, video editing laptops and, I’m told, a booze locker.
(4 if booze locker remains a rumour)
Up the steps to the companionway landing is where it gets technical, Nav table to starboard with the all important “networked” computer for blogging and shore contact, and the high-tech Dos-based football gaming popular among boy-crew. Not to forget the boat clock (which lost two hours yesterday to bring us in line with GMT), and useful boaty stuff (plotters, trackers, barometers, and many other things ending in -ers). Special mention to the reassuring big red button labelled EASY, which pipes out an equally reassuring “That was easy!” on pressing, for those special occasions (like re-fuelling an anchored Elinca by ferrying 44 jerry cans in a small dinghy in Brazil’s shark attack capital).
Port side hosts the ever popular sextant and crew comfort box for all your unmet baby powder needs. And the black water tank pumping handle for 200 pumps every 6 hours (minus tick).
One tick each for James’ violin on port ceiling and boat guitar on starboard; five each for Andy, Sarah T, Nick, Rachel and Alice on one side, Raffe, Linda, Bob, Emma and me on the other, with a special tick for Emma’s binbag wind scoop into starboard double cabin. Further extra point goes to Starboard for Neptune’s announcement of the imminent Equator crossing, requiring all crew to submit any dirt they have on their fellow crew members in the provided envelope slot. Examples of the kind of thing he’s after are provided, to some consternation by crew mentioned three times already, before submissions even begin… two days to go!
On to the all deciding heads, and yes, that spare contemplative time to mull over important issues, time that everywhere else in a 40ft radius is filled with bustling activity and socialising. So, sat on the starboard loo, the view is of laminates (yes, laminates – the whole room is disinfected with hot soapy water ceiling-to-floorboards every day) . So, we have a sideways laminate of Roger Federer wedged in the door frame, mid-backhand, a close-up laminate of Aragorn’s face looking wistfully at the sink and an unfeasably young James MacEvoy staring me straight in the eye. Disconcerting. Not quite three ticks. The hand-written seven pieces of advice by Mevlana Rumi (ending in 7. either live as you are or be as you look) complete the starboard points (20.7).
Despite this added dimension, the spiritual experiences are reserved for the port heads. Oh, the sacred space. Port heads is the go-to location for refreshment, the shower powered by water we desalinate while motoring. But even at water curfew, the experience is blissful, beginning with the cushioned Brazilian toilet seat (weird but nice), before gazing across the room (all 2ft of it) into the top half of Kirsten Dunst reclining into a suggestive sofa, watching your every move as you wrestle with the knotted chord that is meant to hold up the loo paper. To the left is a close-up of Captain Jack Sparrow, angling for the door, and on the right beside him the glorious Bristol Stool Chart complete with illustrations from 1 (small hard, like nuts, hard to pass) to 7 (completely liquid). But the crowning genius of port heads lies in the joy of pressing – after noting with some self-satisfaction the healthy 3-4 floater – the buttons that, without hand pumping or any such undignified fuss, under Kirsten’s persistent gaze, will simply and quietly suck away all evidence with a quiet electric hum, and flush. Magic.
Final score: port 22 – starboard 20.7