“My father passed away in the middle of work, hence the price. I could not extend the auction, but you are most welcome to view the boat before it ends,” said the eBay seller of my-boat-to-be. It appears to me a good project boat to start with, perhaps even a bargain, at least judging the photos by instinct – well, having read the whole book of Be Your Own Boat Surveyor. Immediately, I buy a ticket for the soonest bus, very expensive, if you know the transport in England, and go all the way from Manchester down to Southampton in order to outrun the auction’s deadline, i.e. tomorrow.
Sea-birds are asleep,
The world forgets to weep,
Sea murmurs her soft slumber-song
On the shadowy sand
Of this elfin land;
Contrary to this delicate song from Elgar’s Sea Pictures on my iPod, a sense of excitement and urgency bursts through the 9-hour bus ride while I refresh my boat surveying knowledge. “Out of sight, out of mind” – the key phrase from that book keeps recurring in my head and becomes my mental memo: examine those areas oft-neglected or otherwise hidden… and the bus ride goes on…
As I look up, fields and sheep unendingly slip past the windows. Around me, some are asleep, some are chatting, but most remain stoically seated – perhaps the most English way of all? Anyhow, while this is probably a typical ride to them, it surely is not so to me. All the passing scenery, in fact, cannot be more magical and unreal: am I actually on my way to view a boat for the first time in my life? Perhaps the most unreal moment is when a dream is to become real. Who could have thought of that, or simply keep cool, even when one has already been mentally prepared with all the yearlong daydreams of sailing?