Home' Afloat : AFLOAT September 2018 Contents Take monthly with water September 2018 35
closed it. Before I managed to secure my footing the roll of the
boat smashed me against the hull. I managed to avert my nose
but took a shiner on my cheek.
I steadied myself against the wall with one hand, planted
my feet as wide apart as possible in the confined space and
summonsed up the energy to begin to peel off clothes. My wet
weather trousers were securely positioned with tight, heavy
elastic, which gave a great sense of security while on deck but
right now was a huge hindrance to downing them ... especially
with one hand.
I tugged and pulled and gradually inched them down to my
knees, not daring to remove one hand from the bulkhead in the
process. I then had to hold my fleece jacket up, while I negotiated
the tie on my fleece trousers. The chord on these trousers always
came with a sliding toggle, which was never man enough for the
job, soon broke and required the chord to be knotted.
There is no usable knot for this job that does not tighten as the
hours go by presenting an immense challenge to non-functioning
fingers. The stale air of the tiny closet was beginning to make
me breathe more deeply and as my desire to pee rose and my
layers of clothes held fast, so my body temperature began to rise.
Eventually I let go of the wall to tackle the knot with two
clumsy hands. The next roll tossed me backwards, I fell jarring
my shoulder against the hull and landed awkwardly on top of
the toilet pan. I struggled to my feet again and resumed the
challenge with the tie one-handed. The knot eventually yielded
and the trousers quite gallantly joined their fellows.
I now had to hold up my fleece top and my shirt while wrestling
with that delicate item called knickers. These were tight and thin
and resolutely backward in going floorwards while the hand held
other items upwards. My body heat was now becoming extreme
and I was breathing deeply in the increasingly fetid air. Eventually
everything was in its necessary place and operations could begin.
The relief of sitting down and letting go was immense. I
immediately felt a calming of all my body mechanisms.
Now the time had come for the reverse process to take place.
I stood up and contemplated my options. Flushing the small bowl
seemed imperative as the rolling of the boat meant the risk of a
flood, unpleasant enough, any overflow would empty directly on
to my currently dry clothes hanging below my knees.
However, flushing the toilet required me to turn around.
Contemplating the option of such an acrobatic manoeuvre with
three items of clothing around my knees I decide to drop the
lid on the toilet, pray, and concentrate on releasing my knees.
Dragging a thin pair of tight fitting knickers up proved more
difficult than dragging them down. They now appeared to be five
sizes too small for the frame that had to accommodate them. The
hauling operation started the rise of the body temperature again.
The fleece trousers were again more cooperative but I needed to
get the shirt firmly tucked in before tying the chord – with one
hand – with a knot that would hold in arduous conditions but
not assign me to a life of wearing fleece trousers.
This accomplished I was sweating profusely and had a strong
desire to exit the compartment quickly. The tight elastic of the
wet weather trousers was going to be a real obstacle. I hauled
them up far enough to be able to manoeuvre my legs so that
I could penguin waddle around. I then leant forward propping
myself up with one hand on the back wall ready to begin the
I took a deep breath, leant down and felt around the back
of the bowl for the seacock and opened it, I then lifted the lid
(another deep breath), opened the pump valve and pumped
the dangerously high contents out to sea. I then opened the
saltwater valve and pumped the water through. When all was
clear I closed off the seawater valve and pumped the pan dry
again, finally closing the seacock.
Having checked that all was secure, I penguin waddled
around again to face the door, raised the latch with great relief
and manoeuvred out into the welcomed expanse and fresh air of
the cabin. Here I managed to perch against the bunk, complete
the rearrangement of my wet weather trousers.
I took a brief respite, then donned my wet weather jacket,
anchored myself firmly in the hood, donned the wet gloves (after
I had retrieved them from the floor, noting yet more accumulated
debris on the cabin sole) and clumsily stumped up the steps
to breathe the salt-laden night air ... and wonder if cups of tea
were really worth it! h
* Valerie Clifford is a member of Marine Rescue.
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