The horizon was streaked with shades of orange and grey. It was wet on deck, the third day of racing, and we should approach Penang in a couple of hours. The rain had stopped and wind was light, but the waves were fairly high still, making us give up on trying to cook and broke out the dry rations for dinner.
“Are you trying to stare that biscuit to death?” He came to sit next to me near the cockpit where a few others were also taking a short break.
“I was looking at the water, silly,” I replied. Actually, I was thinking of another sailing trip with him some ten months earlier. A week of pure happiness it was for me.
“Do you remember that time I fell on the boat during that final match race?” Of course I did. I was on the media boat when he texted me about it.
“I was really worried you’d cracked a rib or something. And your voice took a long time to recover.” It was seven months ago and I have not forgotten the feeling.
“I was worried too. And it made me realise how painful it was for you when you had the accident in January.” I fell on the boat we had sailed together and the pain near my right ribs took a couple of months to fully disappear.
“I was glad that you were okay, although I do miss that sexy voice you had sometimes,” I said. He laughed at that.
I didn’t mention it before we went on board, but I knew that this would be our last race together. Our situation has not changed and I doubt that it will, despite his new assignment. He took my hand and held it in his while I kept my eyes closed listening to the waves.
“Break is over, comms officer.” He stood and went back to the charts down below. I saw the skipper looking at me and went to him. He’s been a great source of knowledge as usual, and I wanted to hear more about the race he had entered last summer from California to Hawaii. It was partly to distract myself from thinking too much and partly to learn more from the skipper’s 40-odd years of experience.
– – –
From Penang, we moved on to Langkawi. It would be my third visit to the island this year, I haven’t even gone back to the kampung that often. We managed to get onto the podium for the passage race to Penang and were hoping for a repeat performance for the next leg. The navigator’s excited, even when I reminded him we’re in the cruising class, not the IRC 1.
“What happened to fun sailing and enjoying the moment?”
“I can’t help myself, it felt great to win the other day,” he said. Competitive as always.
– – –
I made coffee and went up on deck. It was almost dawn and most of the crew who opted to stay on the boat for the last time were still asleep. He was at the bow pulpit, his sleeping bag wrapped around him. I handed a cup to him and sat down. He wrapped me in as well, warm and safe. I kept quiet, sipping my drink while looking out. After a while, I put my cup down and held him close.
“Thank you for being here,” was all I said. I felt him nod and pulled me closer.
“I think you need a shower.” Romantic, aren’t we?