My Home is an Ocean

My Home is an Ocean

Adrift now at sea, she contemplated what she’d left behind and what she would find when she returned, if she was able to return.

At the beginning of the mayhem that took the planet by storm, she’d been preparing her yacht for the voyage of a lifetime. Many had sailed single-handed around the world before her, Sir Francis Chichester, Kaye Cottee, Jessica Watson, people young and old for over a century. Her real inspiration had been older sailors, Socrates and Gash.

For a year she’d planned to sail away, and no virus was going to stop her. What did stop her was a rogue wave during the fiercest of storms. Everything happened so quickly, she was lucky to be able to release the life-raft. Lucky too she’d had the foresight to stock it with food and water prior to her departure, but with no time to send out a distress call, she wondered if these limited supplies would be enough to keep her alive until she was either rescued or came across land. In the days before the storm, she’d heard the alarming news again and again on the radio. Italy, France, the UK, America… country by country was being engulfed by this pandemic. In the six short weeks she’d been away from her homeland, the whole world had changed.

The last sign of life apart from birds was a solitary Gentoo penguin on Possession Island which she’d spotted through her binoculars two days sailing distance behind her. At the time she was heading for St Paul’s crater mid-way between Madagascar and the Australian west coast, but now, in the thousands of nautical miles in every direction, she knew the closest land was the French Southern and Antarctic lands, uninhabited except for a few dozen scientists on Ile Kerguelen. With the roaring forties pushing her tiny inflatable along, she’d be better off hoping to strike land in Australia.

Now in the aftermath of the storm there was plenty of time to think, but the past 48 hours had been a nightmare. Being tossed around violently for every minute since her boat capsized and sank, she’d not slept a wink. Thank God her inflatable was enclosed.

On that first morning of calm seas, she thought only of one thing – what proportion of the population would get through unscathed. She knew it was the first day of May. The wind had dropped to a gentle westerly and she was able to open the hatch to enjoy the calm. As the day progressed, she began to contemplate the meaning of home. Her home was now a tiny boat, smaller even than the one which had been her home before the storm. She thought of other boat people, refugees with no home, the American Indians, Mongolian Nomads, Australia’s Aborigines and what ‘home’ meant to these people. She pondered the juvenile leaders of the world of which there were so many and how they gave entire populations a distorted comprehension of country and home…

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GJ Maher