Home' Afloat : AFLOAT January 2015 Contents 28 AFLOAT.com.au January 2015
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Mum told me there’d been no fairy-tale
romance, she simply couldn’t resist him.
It’s like there’s nothing that mortal men
like them couldn’t do and the worst part
is they knew it. What sets my father and
Don apart is Dad’s ability to love or at
least try in his own way. Don Blake never
Like them, I learnt to sail from the
time I could swim, and after the Big C
took Mum away – that’s what Dad calls
it – since then it’s just been me and Dad.
We’re all the family we’ve got. I feel more
like his partner than his daughter.
Strangers take us for a couple and
Dad still gets a kick out of it. Christ, I ’m
thirty years old. The sugar-daddy with the
strawberry blonde girlfriend with the big
tits living on a million dollar yacht act is
wearing thin with me. My father handles
me with kid gloves, but I guess I like it. I
never want for anything, unlike Ben. Then
again – I never asked him what he really
wanted in life.
Ben had sailed up the creek in a leaky
24-footer with the name Horse painted in
red on the starboard bow. The decrepit tub
should’ve been scuttled or wrecked long
before he’d been born. Not flush enough to
pay his yard fees after trying for months to
make the Huon Pine hull watertight, Blake
suggested he pay the debt labouring in the
run-down marina knowing he’d acquire
himself a slave.
Vessels limp into this graveyard and
many never leave, littering the yard in
various states of disrepair and the whole
place needs a match. Don had that much
dirt on some of the good-ol’-boys in state
government that no-one could get rid of
him, not even the greenies from the big
universities down south.
The seaworthy vessels moor up to
the banks of the deep creek flowing into
Bellingham Bay. The tide carries with
sewerage, rubbish, spilled diesel and dirty
bilge water. A toxic cocktail of antifoul,
paint and chemicals wash into the creek,
flushed from the sumps sunk into the yards
patchwork bitumen floor. No-one’s game
to say anything about the pollution – not
Ben lives in the cramped confines
of his little yacht, now stripped bare of
paint. How he survived at sea for so long
is beyond me. We struck up a rapport
over the years, enough to say we are fond
of each other. Whenever I’m here I try to
ask him how he’s going but if Blake’s got
the whip out we just smile and say g’day.
Dad doesn’t like me talking to Ben.
Ben’s so shy around me, hopeless at
disguising his vulnerability. From the
beginning I guessed that he likes me but
neither of us have done anything about it.
After Blake drives away a strange type
of calm settles in like we’re smack bang
in the eye of a cyclone. The rag-tag mob
loitering around the yard pack up, go home,
or rug-up for the night. Dad and I sleep on
board with plans to sail out to the islands
at the top of the morning’s new moon tide.
After a sharing a hot meal in silence, the
fragrant scent of pot hits me as I poke my
head through the companionway to see
if there’s any movement in Ben’s camp.
There is none.
Venus sits low in the sky. Orange,
auburn and pink hues blend with the
encroaching edge of twilight. The cicadas
and crickets aren’t singing. The orchestra
of lorikeets and shrill banter of the waking
flying-fox camp fails to reach full volume.
When I rise at dawn my Ben is gone. Horse
sits with the other decaying hulls. It’s as
if she’s been weeping all night, slowly
dripping water from a heavy dew. I don’t
know if I’m ever going to see him again. h
* Damon Bereziat is a TV scriptwriter living in
Golden Beach, Queensland. As a teenager,
he remembers a stack of Afloat magazines
taking pride of place on his Aunt’s bay
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