Rich slept until mid day. He got up and went into the cabin and checked the weather station. Barometric pressure read fair around 30 inches. The temperature read 67 degrees inside and 60 outside.
“Comfortable,” Rich thought.
He opened the cooler and there rested a cleaned cod wrapped in a moist cloth. Rich removed some cooking utensils from the cabinet and placed them on the stove.
He joined Salty on deck who wore a light jacket with a scarf.
“You sleep well,” Salty said.
“Very nicely,” Rich said. “Are you feeling chilled?”
Every now and then a cold breeze comes along,” Salty said. “At my age when the cold sets in, it stays.”
“You about ready too eat?” Rich said.
“You see the cod, did you?” Salty said.
“Yeah,” Rich said. “I’m going to make fish and chips for us. Never made them before, but I have a recipe book on board.”
“There’s plenty of fish there,” Salty said. “But that’s only some of it.” He nodded to a collection of salted filets laying on plastic wrap on the cabin’s roof. “Salt cod, it’s very good.”
“Finally, something you can’t burn,” Rich said and smiled.
“I can cure some fish,” Salty bragged. “I’m the best.”
“She sailing good?” Rich said.
“She sails good, captain,” Salty said.
“I’ll fix the cod,” Rich said.
In 45 minutes Rich stuck his head out of the cabin. “It’s ready.”
Rich sat at the table and waited for Salty. After a couple of minutes he climbed down the companionway holding high two cans of beer.
“I stowed these and a few more in me gear,” Salty said. “I knotted them up, attached a line, and they’ve been in the water for a couple of hours. They should be about right. Well, colder than the cabin anyway.”
Salty handed one to Rich. “Thanks,” Rich said. “What else do you have in your gear?”
Salty chuckled. “It’s not a trip unless it’s a merry trip.”
They sat and ate and sipped the beer.
“It’s a sacrilege, mate, not to have beer with fish,” Salty said. “And if no beer is available you must drink plenty when it is available to make up for it.”
“I see clearly what binds many religions,” Rich smiled.
“A man should not take the first step on a long journey without something to lift his spirits nor dull his senses to reality,” Salty said. “It should, though, be measured, in good company, or no company, and only in good weather. A seaman should know that and live it. The sea is no place for drunken sailors.”
“I have a lot to learn,” Rich said, “and I think you know that. I should have just tossed the tracker in the ocean shouldn’t I?”
“Sometimes you have to do things for only yourself,” Salty said. “Only you can pick those times, but you must be aware of who else is effected. When your plan hit foul weather you worried about me and the boat; that’s good.” Salty took a bite of fish. “This is good. I think you’re the best mate I’ve ever had.”
“Sam taught me how to write, but I think you are going to tell me what to write,” Rich said.
“That’s a heavy load,” Salty said.
“What I mean is how to see things,” Rich said. “There’s a reason we’re together in the middle of the Atlantic, beyond the obvious.”
“Perhaps,” Salty said, “but don’t ignore the obvious. Think of how one small decision or something not even connected to you could have altered your life dramatically. Let’s say six months after you went to work for Sam he dies from a heart attack; what then? How much would that have altered your course? Suppose you would have not got on the school bus two years ago?”
Rich took a bite of the fish. “And the decisions I’ve made has dramatically altered other lives.”
“We’re in a mess aren’t we, mate?” Salty said. “Out here on the sea you have less effect on others, only me and you. When things are whittled down to just me and you that gives more time for you. Take time to know yourself and time to observe only one other person’s perspective rather than a whole bunch of people.”
“Perspective,” Rich said. “it’s how I see things – and react.”
It was silent except for the sounds of the boat, sea, and wind. Thoughts were mulled along with the food and beer.”
“This is probably the best tasting meal I’ve ever had,” Rich said.
“Believe me when I say it, mate,” Salty said, “a meal at sea is three times better than one on land; ask any fish.”