5th-11th October 2015
I took a risk.
Flying halfway across South America to live on a yacht with a Captain I’d never met because he was heading to Antarctica. My ongoing dream for seven years.
He didn’t sound too crazy by email or over the phone, but a few things he said didn’t make sense: I put that down to his English as a second language and the fact that he was probably old.
I booked the flight to meet him in Buenos Aires.
The ship was nice. Much nicer than other ships I’d lived on, he clearly took good care of it and in a week he was going back to Europe and I was supposed to take care of the ship and the cat while he was gone.
This week felt like one of the longest in my life. I could tell he was extremely intelligent, but he couldn’t communicate very well. In fact, I’d say he had the social skills of a child most of the time. He needed constant attention, seemingly incabable of eating a meal by himself. I could see he was incredibly lonely, but he didn’t like the majority of people…he didn’t like other sailors or men in general, he didn’t speak Spanish, he didn’t like teenages, he didn’t like busy ports, he didn’t like it when I used a tablespoon of flour to thicken a sauce at dinner (and he let me know it).
So he latched onto me, wanting to accompy me everywhere, making constant small talk, asking me questions in German (I don’t speak German) and expecting me to translate it into Spanish for other people.
There was no work to be done on the ship except a few rust spots, and I couldn’t exactly help him with this because there was only one drill and one paintbrush. So he wanted me to ‘help’ him just by watching.
I started to go a bit crazy.
I took a siesta one afternoon and he asked how long was I going to sleep until. I responded, don’t know maybe 6, whenever I wake up.
He promplty woke me up at 6:15pm.
The only time I got to myself that whole week was sleeping (at night) and when I could hide in the bathroom.
I considered jumping ship before we had even left.
The way he spoke to other people was strange, like he didn’t know how to have proper conversion.
And once he went for a shower and left his clean underwear up on deck so he walked up naked to get them and I was treated to ‘wrinkly balls’, a sight I would have been much happier without.
I didn’t feel like he was going to ask me for sex though, he just needed company. I was basically a companion. I put down the nakedness as an “old German” trait.
After a week of doing nothing and him following me everywhere to buy food and either criticizing or complimenting my cooking, in an hour he offloaded way too much information at one time of all the ships systems. And every question I asked he responded with what to do if something is going wrong, so I don’t know what to do if everything is going correctly.
He mentioned he met a German girl on the street, and told me that she might be interested in joining for the first leg South. I tried to make suggestions so that I could meet her to see what she was like, but he was either completely clueless at my very obvious suggestion (“hey, why don’t you email the German girl and see if she wants to meet us for a beer?”) or didn’t really want us to meet.
I found out later that she also was suggesting to him because she wanted to meet me, and the night they went to a free concert – he didn’t invite me!
Eventually we did meet and I got along brilliantly with Sue. She decided to join us, and we were in this together: she wouldn’t have come if I wasn’t on the trip, and I would have jumped ship if she hadn’t of joined.
The morning the Captain was flying out he tried to wake me up early by knocking loudly on my door. I called out to him but he didn’t respond, so I went back to sleep. The ship was mine. (Two days later I got an email from him informing me that he didn’t want to wake me up the morning he left!)