More man’s work was on today’s agenda. After breakfast I prepared myself to “Scrape the Prop”. Now, if I was at home scraping wallpaper off the wall, I would dress down, turn on the steamer and only come out of the room for a spot of coffee. Here, I put on my trunks, a t-shirt, some jelly shoes, a mask, some ear plugs and a snorkel. I stand on the rickety pontoon, staring into the water for about fifteen minutes and mentally prepare myself for something else I have never done before. Remember, every day, between Monday and Friday, for the last eight years, I have known exactly what is going to happen – I am going to sit at my desk in my silent office and waste my precious life away.
Finally, I lower myself into the water and after a mild heart attack, I am handed a chisel, I hold my breath and swim down in the general direction of where I am told I will find the prop. Life under Esper was quite different to the life I was getting used to on deck – here, it was wet, bloody cold and lacked a rather important thing in my life – Oxygen!
When I was thirteen, I held my breath for two minutes and fifty five seconds, sitting, very still, in my bedroom. Flapping around under a boat in cold water, stabbing a chisel at 4 months worth of crustaceans tends to tire you out a little and I think the best I managed was about 40 seconds. This went on for about an hour, by the end of which, I was absolutely, positively, most definitely, bloody knackered – but you know what? It was great fun and my imagination runs away with the image of my boss swimming into my new office and handing me today’s post, I watch it float away from my underwater in-tray and smile as I put another cut into my knuckles from the sharp barnacles and I give him a handful of mussels and coral covered in my blood and tell him to file it under “Man’s Work”.
I hosed myself down with water piped from the mountains surrounding our anchorage and after a little food, I go for a walk with Mum and Dad. We climbed up the stony, make-shift road that is the only vehicle access to Boynuz Buku and stopped only when we were satisfied the view was worth the effort, and believe me it was. Looking back down to Boynuz Buku and Esper in one direction and another bay (possibly Killeiskelesi Koyu) in the other direction framed dramatically with snow capped mountains. This once again reiterated that nothing man-made can come close to the feeling of seeing the World this way.
On our way back to Esper, half-way back down the broken granite track, we spotted Jamie and Liz paddling their new inflatable canoe into a reedy inlet. This is the canoe we hauled over from the UK, weighing more than our suitcases but cutting its way comfortably through the still waters. Like a sight from an Indian settlement, we sat and watched for a while.
Later, as I lay on the pontoon, my mind was telling me I had done nothing all day, yet my body was telling me it hadn’t stopped. I decided to lay low and wait for the next experience. It wasn’t long before I was asked if I would join Jamie in the canoe, but this wasn’t going to shift me from the rickety plank serving as my pillow. However, when Dad asked me, it was more a willing than an offer – I thought I should oblige.
Having previously owned a canoe, I was paddling effortlessly within minutes, something seemed more solid than the fibre-glass racing canoes I used to paddle on the Little Ouse in Cambridgeshire. Being inflatable, it was more comfortable, lighter and easier to manoeuvre. A skirt around a bay and back to Esper and I decide to call it a day with a JD & Coke.
All photographs on this page M&L Furlong.
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