Here Comes Ol’ Irony Again

Well it has been an interesting 19 hours or so. Right after my watch took over at 6pm yesterday, we cleared the Lofoten Islands and jumped headlong into a bunch of wind. Coming off the starboard bow, we were getting anywhere from 20 to 32 knots of apparent wind — and Polar Bear was loving it.

Our guests, well, they were a different story. Joining me on watch were a couple: Jarl and Camilla. Jarl is a big guy, about my height and a wee bit chunky. He seems eager and excited about the adventure he’s embarked upon, but also appears to be a bit of, well, a nerd. Camilla is a cute young lady, with freckles and bright eyes and a eagerness to engage in debate on any topic.

When we started the watch — right after we had cooked and served the chicken-curry dinner — Jarl took over the helm while I sat beside the cockpit on the port side. He toiled along for an hour with a big smile on his face. When he stood down, he moved to the starboad side and Camilla took over. Jarl sneezed loudly, at which point Boogie appeared, wide-eyed, in the companionway hatch. He pointed at Jarl and then pointed to my side of the boat — the downwind side. I asked Jarl, “Are you gonna be sick? Come down here to this side, OK?” Jarl did, and proceeded to spend the next two hours puking the curry and all the rest of his guts out while I dangled a bucket overboard and washed off the detritus.

And Jarl was not alone. Everyone else among the climbers was either white-faced in the cockpit, down below curled up on their bunks or puking into a bucket or the head.

Which is a shame because the sailing was great. Bumpy? Sure. And we were sailing tight to the wind which meant the boat was heeled over at 45 degrees or so and bucking over the waves like a bronco. Camilla, to her credit, soldiered on gamely, keeping us mostly on course and smiling at the same time she was concerned with her husband’s well-being.

Once our watch ended, she put Jarl to bed and I provided buckets to all the other cabins, just in case. And then I went to bed. When our next watch came up at 3am, Jarl couldn’t answer the call. Camilla and I alternated half-hour stints at the wheel for the three-hour watch, at which point we both went back to our bunks.

The other watches are keeping on and we’ve had wind ever since. We’ll go back on watch again in 25 minutes, at 2pm, and do a four-hour run. It’ll be interesting to see if Jarl is up for it since I learned during this morning’s three-hour watch that he’s the impetus for he and Camilla’s journey to Jan Mayen. He’s the one who’s into the north and winter scenes, and apparently fancies himself the rugged adventurer. Jarl is hoping to get a gig someday on Jan Mayen; he’s an engineer and hopes to get on at the meteorological or LORAN station there because he wants to live in a place on the edge, where nature still rules.

Camilla, on the other hand, hasn’t been south on a vacation since they met and her climbing experience is limited mostly to the indoor gyms in Oslo. She tags along so they stay together, and she’s even willing to live solo in Oslo should Jarl get his longed-for six-month tour of duty on Jan Mayen.

Time to go wake them up, see who answers the bell. As an old Doonesbury cartoon once put it, “Bravo for life’s little ironies.”

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