Pantagruel, Micha and Jo
54º63.13’ N 009º93.06’ E, Arnis, Germany
“Grrrrroooarrr!” The tiger leaping out at me in my dream of roaming in the Sundabans Delta back in West Bengal morphs seamlessly into the noise of an angle grinder spitting into action from a few boats down. It’s 730am and life in the boatyard is in full swing. Micha is already up doing a sundance on the deck, before running around the yard discussing at high speed how to deal with the most technical aspects of the boat. Either that or throwing things around the cabin shouting ‘Scheissteil!’ (shit piece) at the latest piece of electronic machinery he’s installing which is refusing to function as expected.
The boat is now back in the water, bringing a little more civility to our living conditions and our next big task is to put the mast back on, and become a sailing boat once more. This involves pacing up and down the 20m structure cleaning and painting (whilst I wish fervently for a smaller boat), installing the lights, Radar, GPS antenna, wind indicator and measurement devices and all the halyards, stays, shrouds etc. A howling wind is blowing as we crane the resulting web of ropes back on and tie everything down with freezing fingers.
As the time pressure (but sadly not the temperature) increases, so does the strain on mine and Micha’s relationship. Being both stubborn and independent, as the stress mounts, our clash of wills or ideas, language and culture become amplified. Having spent most of my working life being my own boss, it’s hard for me to allow someone else to dictate how I spend every day, what to prioritise, and how to tackle tasks for which I have my own plans. Micha is equally struggling with having someone onboard who questions his ideas and doesn’t like always being told what to do.
I get frustrated when it feels like all I’ve achieved at the end of the day is finding the right screw. Or when Micha asks me for the “Gewindeschneider Werkzeug” (thread cutter for aluminium) which I didn’t know even existed, never mind it’s translation into german… It’s also taking me a while to accept that this is my work now, and that there are no equations lurking in the background for me to solve. And Micha can’t seem to fathom that I still have interests other than boat work, and that I might want to use a paint brush to paint something other than the walls at the end of a long working day.
Let’s hope that the joy of having a little apprentice tagging along with him in the boatyard all day outweighs for Micha the drag of having to answer so many questions and explain basic level physics to me on a daily basis.
Finally it was time to put on the sails and say goodbye to our boatyard life and to Arnis, Pantagruel’s working home harbour, the smallest town in Germany, at the end of the earth, where everyone knows everyone, and where the cows look like this…(which makes sense when we saw snow on the deck in April and temperatures colder at Easter than at Christmas!)
Off we sailed into our first sunset and spent our first night on anchor at the entrance of Eckernfoerder Bucht.