It was a private hire. The four of us to visit the more secluded inlets around the coast for a day of sun, sea and relaxation. The two of us had made the same voyage last year ,on the same boat with the same captain and had enjoyed it so much we wanted our daughter and son in law to have the same experience. It wasn’t to be.
When we clambered aboard the captain showed no signs of recognising us from last year despite are regular communication on Face Book. It took ages to set sail as the captain and his young crew member struggled to raise the anchor. It was an indication of things to come when I innocently enquired if their was a problem to receive a terse “ no -no problem” in response. We headed out to sea in silence.
After 35 minutes we anchored in a picturesque cove with no-one else about except a small yacht a hundred yards off to starboard. It was mid morning and already hot so we dived straight in for a refreshing swim. We gathered a discreet distance from the boat and checked out whether we had all detected an “atmosphere “ on board. We were apologetic explaining that last year we had sailed with the captain, his wife and their young son and everything had been all smilies, the family keen to share with us their plans for this new venture and the little boy playing in the sea with us as we swam round the boat. Some one suggested the captain looked like and was behaving like he had a hang over, drawing attention to the over flowing crate of empty beer cans at the back of the boat but these could have been from the previous day’s trip.
Back on board and the captain and mate were drinking coffee. They did not offer us any so my wife asked for one. Coffee provided I said last year your wife gave us a cake she had backed, is there cake today. “No”. You don’t seem very happy is something wrong? “No” Do you remember us from last year , showing him a picture on my wife’s phone of us with his son and another with him and his wife. “Yes of course I remember”. You were chattier last year. “ Some guests prefer quiet, some like to talk. I don’t know what they want”. Last year you seemed happier you smiled a lot more. “ I am tired it’s nearing the end of a long season. Doing the same thing every day is tiring”. But it’s beautiful here, a great view, the sea is calm, it’s hot and sunny, we have the place almost to our self. “Yes but if you see the same view every day, no matter how beautiful you get fed up with it.” Where would you rather be? ” I want to go off in a caravan “. With you wife and son? “ No - just me”. This conversation took place whilst he was lying on his front, elbows propping up his head smoking a cigarette under a large No Smoking sign.
My wife returned from the head(toilet) complaining of a disgusting smell and no toilet paper, in keeping with the general neglected appearance of both the boat and its captain.
We stuck it out but it was clear that everything was not right. The captain’s behaviour showed many of the characteristics of someone suffering from depression just showing that even in an idyllic setting with glorious weather and a life style the envy of most holiday makers mental health is not guaranteed.
Blair Mcpherson www.blairmcpherson.co.uk