Peter’s Second Letter to the Corinthians 10 May 2008
And it came to pass that the great sea began to enter Coriander in large volumes and she was taken to the shed of Rice and Cole. And there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of many teeth at the state of her ribs, tingles and sundry other defects, and talk of the expenditure of myriads of shekels. Woe is she, for she is undone and needs a proper good seeing-to. As for a launch date, what man can tell, bearing in mind the world shortage of cedar of Lebanon and not a cubit of gopher wood to be had. And so Peter found himself bereft of sailing, and also with a poorly foot after a skin doctor decreed that a lump of it needed removal.
But then the Bank Holiday weekend arrived, with forecast of much wind and rain. And behold, Lynn of the Frost did contact Peter and summon him to crew for her on Corsair. And when he arrived, the wind blew mightily and the seas heaved and rolled. But Lynn declared that – as she knew the craft – Peter should steer the mighty ship through the travails of the Saturday race.
And so they departed the mooring, well reefed down and bearing with them Morag, the cabin girl, who had been told that – if they hit the ground – it would be her job to jump overboard, Lynn of the Frost being in charge and Peter having the poorly foot which did not need exposure to Crouch germs.
And lo, the craft did bucket around mightily, though Peter remained dry, sheltering in the lee of Lynn of the Frost, who became very soggy indeed. But as it transpired, they got a stonkingly good start – mainly by virtue of the rest of the fleet having forgotten that the gun was ten minutes earlier than customary.
And the good Corsair did fly up the river, leaving buoys to starboard and port as laid down in the law of the race, and the other RCODs were much confounded. So as the buoy known as Canewdon did appear, Peter did enter into negotiations with Lynn of the Frost as to whether a tithe of the points to be gained could not be devolved to Coriander in her misery. This debate continued as they neatly rounded the mark, at which moment Peter became much dismayed and found himself lying on the floorboards of the craft.
Oh doom, oh disaster – it appeared that the poorly foot might have disintegrated – but there was no pain. What had disintegrated was the tiller of Corsair, the larger piece of which Peter still retained in his grasp, while a short splinter remained within the rudder-head fitting. Eheu! Eheu! – oops, sorry, we’re slipping into Virgil here! – in reality a short and rapid, but expressive, burst of Anglo-Saxon did emerge from Peter’s lips, while the rest of the gallant crew prepared for death, Morag the cabin girl abandoning all hope of attending to her lunchtime sushi ( they live well on Corsair).
But then the great brain of Peter did grind into action – or as Lynn of the Frost contended – the instincts of self-preservation kicked in. Using divers pieces of ancient cord secreted in the craft, the broken tiller was lashed together so that some semblance of control was restored.
The fine craft began to limp slowly homeward, as Peter – reverting to Cruiser mode – suggested that, as we were barely in control, we should really hoist two black balls, and speculated in crude fashion as to whence these could be obtained. Lynn of the Frost decreed that, with the undoubted sensibilities and gentility of Morag, the cabin girl, such discussions should cease forthwith.
In truth, with a near gale on the nose as we crept past Black Point, it did not seem likely that the jury rig would survive the journey back to Burnham, but by great fortune an Ancient Mariner hove into view in Cliff Reach, driving Courier – summoned not by bells but by mobile telephone.
Verily it is easier to tow a damaged RCOD back home than to sail it close hauled through the eye of a brisk breeze, if not a needle.
Bloody ancient wooden boats, eh?
(There being none in the vicinity of this sorry tale to make a record of the digital variety for posterity, a selection of fine RCOD images are afixed for your greater amusement and to rest your eyes from the verbiage. Webmaster)