Morning narrative

Awoken too early by BoatCat scratching at the bedroom door. I stay on my back and put my feet on the roof – to try to do some stretching. It has been raining 🌧 – the hatch above me has leaked precisely in between Small DB’s head and my own. I congratulate myself on the three woollen blankets I have on under the fitted sheet – both as protection and a form of storage.

Up. Spots of water on the floor at the end of the bed. Close the ceiling hatch properly. Spots of water on the kitchen floor. Close that ceiling hatch properly. Steel self to go out into the light rain, balance on the back step and start the generator. * I look about – our friends on Pandion, where we spent the evening before – have disappeared. Odd.

I start the stove. It doesn’t sound like it should, but it co-operates. Kettle on. Small DB asks, for the third morning in a row, if she can make gummies with frozen berries. I can’t bear the thought of sharing space in the kitchen, but nor can I cope with the fury of a seven-year-old. I put the berries in a saucepan and tell her to take care of the rest.

M appears. “Pandion are gone,” I tell him. He goes up, takes a look, sniffs the largely non-existent wind. “We should go too. If we leave now we’ll be able use the tide to get there. There’s no wind now so I’ll get us going.” Meaning he doesn’t need me to help with the anchor. I stay below.

Dirty dishes are all over the sink. Grey mornings have a way of making everything feel clammy, dirty and covered in hair. My hair, Smalls hair and cat hair. Ugh. The rubbish is full – we were too impatient to depart Baie des Citrons to take it ashore. So now I tie up the bag and put it in the locker at the front of the boat.

New bin bag. Put bin back in place. Kettle off. Put the pressure cooker that I used to cook the butter beans last night in its place – heating seawater to do the washing up. Small DB is stirring her berries on the other side of the stove. I make M coffee in the plunger/French press. Tea in the teapot for me. Both are left to steep.

I rinse all the manky dishes under the seawater tap – the strainer in the plughole clogs and I empty the crud out the window. Tuna, green bean, coffee grounds and butter bean bits for the fish. The anchor is up, motors on. We are moving. The water is wonderfully calm. “Break the berries apart with the spoon,” I tell Small DB. “OK,” she says. “Then I’ll do the gelatine.”

She arranges her bits and bobs on the stairs. I say nothing, although it drives me banana. There is no other place for her to do it. All surfaces are covered. I press the coffee down, fill M’s cup, add milk and pass it up to him. The pot full of hot seawater is put in the sink – some detergent added. I throw in all the cutlery, wash the big knife, and then use it to chop up two apples.

They go into a saucepan with cinnamon and a bit of hot water – on to the stove. I add in four tablespoons of milk powder, coconut flakes, rice flakes, more water… Pivot. Washing up gloves on. Do the dishes, rinsing each one quickly in precious fresh water. Pivot. Stir the porridge with the wooden spoon. Pivot. The cutlery gets put into a cup of fresh water and then into the holder to dry alongside the bigger things – the spatula, egg flipper, slotted spoons…

Small DB has her berries on a trivet on the stairs. The porridge starts sticking to the bottom of the pot. I take it off the stove. Rinse out the pressure cooker, upend it on to a teatowel on the cutting board. The berries and the gelatine mixture have been combined. I turn and see Small DB down the front of the hull, trying to wrestle a container from a bag I’ve contrived to hang up in such a way that it takes up minimum space but renders it inaccessible.

I get the container out for her. The mixture goes in and the container is bunged in the fridge. I notice that I haven’t put the fan on – I use it to blow the hot stove air away from the fridge. I turn on the fan. Rinse the berry saucepan. Load bowls with porridge. Add the remaining yoghurt to each one. Give BoatCat her morning spoonful into her little bowl.

Yoghurt! I forgot to get out the yoghurt I made yesterday. Get the yoghurt maker down, transfer the yogurt to the fridge, empty the water out of the flask and put it upside down next to the other clean dishes. I go back down to the front of the hull where I hide the roasted almonds. These are super-precious. I bought a 5kg bag before leaving Australia – we’ve gone through half of them. I have to hide them so M, who does not afford them proper reverence, doesn’t use them for snacking.

Half a handful of almonds on top of the adult breakfasts. I expel the air out of the bag and the aroma is heady. I inhale, stashing them back out of sight. Wipe down the stove and bench. Muscle Small DB to wipe away the berry juice she got on the wall. I deliver the breakfasts to Small DB and M. Organise myself a cup of tea (again thankful that I bought myself my wonder-double-walled teapot) and take it, with my porridge out into the cockpit.

Mop the rainwater from the seat and the table. Sit on an old towel. Start writing amid the sound of one engine propelling us along and the sound of the generator – it’s so flat, we are able to make water as we go. Our watermaker is such a magical and awesome entity. Alchemic. It, and the autopilot are such valued players in our floating life. We have been without either of them, so our appreciation is of the highest level. Game changers.

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*Our intention was never to be a generator-reliant boat, but as our stove requires servicing, it requires more power than our batteries hold of a morning to start up. Woes. At least there was no one nearby.

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