A Return to Terceira – Sailing Home

sailing terceira

I feel like I haven’t been away. The painted shutters on windows, the low stone walls, the dairy cows, the sparrows.

She stands where I left her. I left her.

I left her here.

I touch her hull the moment I reach her. Solid. Smooth. Not neglected or damaged or weary, just her usual solid self, facing the wind, standing on concrete.

I wonder if she misses the water or is relieved to be out of it. She grew up dry every winter. She’s younger for it, no doubt about that.

Sand has gathered around her stands. The winter storms she’s seen. The sand is mixed with paint flecks. Blue. Not hers, although she is blue too. Someone else has been poisoning this ground.

We’re all guilty of it. There’s a reason why nothing grows on her hull while she’s in the water.


A motorboat is being lifted out as I arrive. Soon they start pressure washing the little boat’s hull, dislodging stubborn creatures. Barnacles, weed.

The blue anti-foul washes off in torrents of toxins. It washes over the concrete and I have to leap over it as I visit the bathrooms. Don’t want that stuff on your shoes. Or your skin.

The motorboat has blue anti-foul but my boat has red. When we washed her off she let a river of blood. It flowed across the ground and wept into drains. Like I said, poison.

She looks pale on deck. We took everything off and stored it inside when we left. Boom, covers, lines, outboard, wheel, everything. So there’s nothing to break up the paleness. It doesn’t take long to get it all back out though and underneath spots of mould have been growing.

I clean every surface, finding the debris of spiders’ meals. Tiny crumpled flies litter the forepeak having got in but never gotten out. I find the remains of an onion in the rack. How could I have left an onion here? That must’ve smelt for a while. Now it’s just ashes, time having done its work.

There’s one metre squared of floor space. Two when the bags have been moved. That’s it. How have I lived here for three years? Every inch of space is taken and I haven’t even unpacked. There’s no room, not for anything.

The next few weeks will be work on top of work. Except that to even get into the tool cupboards I’ll have to move about 80 things. It’s a strange way of life. So free in that I can, and have, sailed anywhere – but also so wantonly limiting.

I look around and I don’t know where to start. The captain will tackle the huge jobs, the sanding, the painting, the epoxy work. And me? I’ll start on the thousand tiny things.

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