{23/02/2013}   Out at sea on a rough day

I love watching and listening to the sea, but I don’t particularly want to be in it or on it.  Yesterday, in perishing cold wind, I walked along the sea front at Deal, at times walking into small pellets of snow.  It was truly mind clearing and exhilarating but I could barely speak afterwards as my face was so numb.  The sea was wild, noisy and, looking at boats out at sea, scary.  Earlier that morning, I had stood on the cliffs in Folkestone and spent a good 10 or 15 minutes gazing out to sea.  I realised then that however much I love the sea and watch it, I will never, ever understand it.  I wish I had grown up by the sea, ideally in the midst of a fishing community, so I could have at least a bit of an understanding of the real power of the sea.

While staring out to sea, steadying myself on a kind of viewing balcony wall, I watched the sun’s ray desperately trying to squeeze through the heavy grey cloud.  A small patch of the sea was lit as if by torch light and it was moving closer to Folkestone, having possibly been as far away as France before I got there, and I followed its path.  I then watched a small fishing boat heading, probably, towards Folkestone harbour; it was being veritably buffeted by the wind and the waves.  I tried to imagine being on that boat but all I could think was that I would be feeling pretty seasick and I would be convinced of imminent death by wind and waves.

The only time I’ve ever been on a small boat in weather conditions I’m sure should have resulted in my going overboard was around the Faroe Islands.  My friend and I, without life vests or prior warning that in open sea we would have to cling on, no kidding, for dear life, were on a post boat, the only people on the outer deck.  I have no idea why the captain didn’t advise us to go outside.  We got drenched, more so than you can probably imagine.  It was raining and the waves were crashing over the boat and over us.  I did not find it exciting.  I got a dreadful case of involuntary swearing and shouting loudly and repeatedly, “Oh, ****, we’re going to die!” and I felt like everything I had ever eaten was going to be ejected from my body and probably blown back over me in a vomit, sea and rain drenching.  Somehow I wasn’t sick and somehow we didn’t lose our grip on the rail, but, oh, I remember with so much relief, the feeling of being on calm waters when we went from open sea to sheltered bay.

People sail, navigate, etc, in sea conditions like that all the time.  It astounds, horrifies and amazes me.  I watched that fishing boat being thrown about on the sea and I was struck by the fact that there were probably fishermen on board who had been fishing to earn a living.  It made me want to buy fish from a proper fishmonger, or ideally directly from the fishermen.  But despite feeling worried for the boat and the fishermen, I loved that the torch of light and warmth from the sun made it to them and gave them a minute or so of sunny hugs.


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