Marie finally confessed she’d hidden chocolate Toblerone on the boat to eat when alone on watch during the night. I was devastated. When I found out, having at last made landfall in Prince Rupert, she giggled finding the whole thing amusing.
I myself confess to an inherent chocolate addiction and usually stock Sänna with copious amounts for long passages, but on this occasion I’d decided to try and abstain. It was either that or another trip back to the hypnotist. Marie doesn’t usually eat chocolate and I can’t get my head around why she suddenly decided to become a secret-eater during our twenty two days at sea. We finally made port much further north than we’d originally planned, departing Hanalei Bay on the wonderful island of Kauai in Hawaii for Victoria, on the southern side of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. But we didn’t plan for the vicious storm that crossed our path six hundred miles out from the Canadian coast.
My father, who’s been somewhat of a rogue in his time, tells a remarkable story of a man he knew in the navy. A chap by the name of Johnny Capes. My old man insists that he and Capes were great friends… but then, over the years, I’ve learned to close one ear whenever my father is telling a tale. Even so, the story of Capes’ amazing escape from a sunken submarine is truly incredible… and nearly lead to my own drowning when I tried the same technique many years later…
You see, Johnny Capes was the sole survivor of a British submarine… he escaped through a hatch from a submerged depth of 180 feet with just a bucket on his head.
In 1941, during World War Two, HMS Perseus struck an Italian mine and was lying critically damaged on the seabed in the Mediterranean, just six miles off the coast of the Greek island of Cephalonia. Not only did the magnificent Capes survive to reach the surface, he then swam the six miles to Cephalonia, was found and rescued by Cephalonian Partisans, lived wild in the mountains and fought with the Partisans against Italian occupiers for nearly two years before escaping to Turkey to find his long way home. Tough stuff eh?
In Thailand, in a bar, I met a guy who told me he’d eaten his brother. A few moments later he passed out drunk with his head on the bar. I looked down and his dog was unconscious too, lying spreadeagled on its back with its feet half in the air.
As we left, one of the young Thai girls working the bar slipped into my seat to patiently wait for the fellow to wake up. The guy was an old sea salt, complete with obligatory wild hair and long white wizened beard, a solo sailor who’d sailed into Thailand for one common reason. Nearly all lone round-the-world sailors end up in Ao Chalong at some point, usually with their dogs. Within a few short days he’d depart on his battered sail boat with a new Thai bride and the dog would be gone. We never found out what happened to their dogs…