Astrid – Chapter 8
‘You get her seaworthy – what then?’ – Lachie Hansen-Moore (December 2022)
‘Hullooooo! Anyone home?’ called Lachie down the companionway, for the third time. There was a muffled sound from somewhere below decks. Astrid emerged from the engine compartment, her fair hair tied up in a straggly bun, oil smudges on her nose and cheek, squinting up at the form silhouetted against the bright sky. ‘Lachie!’
‘Hi Mum! Thought I’d drive down and surprise you. How’s it going?’ Lachie descended the wooden steps gingerly.
‘Oh, you know. Slowly.’ Astrid pushed a stray lock of hair back from her sweaty forehead with the back of a grimy hand.
‘Problem with the engine?’
‘No, no. Just changed the secondary fuel filter.’
Lachie gazed around the saloon. ‘You’ve got a lot done in the last two months, Mum. I’m impressed …’
‘Thanks, love, but there’s a long way to go. Aunty Lot’s coming out in a month’s time and I’m hoping to take the Astrid out for a shakedown cruise while she’s here … Want to come along for the ride?’
‘Good … Cup of tea?’
‘I’ll make it, Mum.’
‘Thanks. Two sugars these days … The galley’s usable again, finally.’
Lachie disappeared into the galley, took in the varnished wooden lockers, the gimballed gas stove. ‘Bloody hell, Mum! You’ve done a great job with this.’
‘Thanks, love. But I got a lot of help from Barry Mason, the boat builder. He did most of the cabinetry.’
‘Still … What about the electrics? I see the cabin lights are working now.’
‘Salty did all that.’
‘The one-eyed sparky with the pirate ship painted on the side of his van?’
‘That’s the one.’
Mug drained, Astrid surveyed her son. ‘Well, then, back to work! Get some overalls on – you can help me bleed the fuel line.’
Lachie had been hoping to take his mother for lunch in a smart café, but resigned himself to fish and chips in paper instead. ‘Okay, but you’ll have to show me what to do. You know your son’s a mechanical dunce, right?’
‘No worries. It’s easy-peasy. A bit lemon-squeezy to get in there, though.’ The Perkins diesel was a beast, rather oversized for the engine compartment.
Fuel line bled, lunch consumed, Lachie crumpled the greasy paper, leaned back against the rail. ‘Can’t beat fish fresh off the boat, eh?’ Then, changing the subject to one which had been niggling for some time: ‘So, you get her seaworthy … what then?’
Astrid reflected. ‘Not quite sure, to tell you the truth. I’ve been so focused on getting her back in the water. I’ve got a few ideas, though. Sightseeing cruises, charter work … Might even take her all the way up to Queensland.’
‘Are you giving up the HR work, then?’
‘I wish! No, I’ll do consultancy jobs to keep the money coming in. Hopefully, mostly in the winter months.’
Lachie thought for a moment. ‘The Astrid’s a pretty special boat … quite a USP for sail training … How about this: “Sail training for women on board the Astrid”? You know what sailing’s like – it’s such a blokey environment. Puts the girls off. The guys always have to put on the macho act, be Mr Competent Crewman. Even if they’re clueless.’
Astrid looked at her son sharply. Was he sending her up? No, he seemed to be serious.
‘Lachie, you’re a constant surprise to your mother.’
‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
‘You should … I really think you might be on to something. “Sail training for girls and women. Learn to sail with the Astrid’s all-female crew” …’
‘All-female? I don’t know, you might stretch the point and have one male crew member,’ he mused innocently. ‘I could be the eye-candy to attract the punters.’
THE END … for now
Thank you for reading ‘Astrid’. I hope that you enjoyed it. Next week, we’re embarking on another adventure with Steve Fendt’s Tall and Tiny Tales …