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Bill Mills

 Spaghetti Wellington

by  Bill Mills

On the 72 foot OYC Taikoo again, this time for a weekend cruise in May.  The weather couldn’t make up its mind whether it should still be winter and cold or spring and warm.  By the Saturday evening it had turned muggy with a light wind and we were making our way slowly up towards Tarbert, Loch Fyne.  The remains of sun was lighting up the thinning cloud but not breaking through it.  The remains of a depression out to the west of Ireland was giving the sea a kind of flat oily appearance, that seemed to sludge over the swell, which could be slight for a time, then every now and again would deepen and give a slow, wallowing, corkscrew heave to Taikoo.  Not often.  Just now and then.

          Our young crew had settled in well from joining on the Friday night and the varied weather had allowed them to start getting their sea-legs without too much discomfort.  I was pleased with my watch:  a fairly experienced 17 year old lad who sailed regularly with OYC, a girl of about the same age who had sailed for years with her parents who were keen cruising folk and a girl in her mid-twenties who, though she had never sailed in larger boats, was a successful dinghy sailor.

          With the slow progress due to the light wind the skipper had called a cockpit conference and given the crew the choice of either getting the evening meal ready and eating while underway and being cleared up on arrival – or wait till we got to Tarbert to eat and clear up, making it pretty late before we could get ashore.

          Eating underway was the unanimous decision of the 12 crew, Skipper and two Mates.

          The duty cooks had already started the initial preparations for the meal so they just had to shift into a higher gear to get things ready that bit earlier.

          My watch was on duty when the call came that the meal was ready.  To speed things up I told the two 17 year-olds to go and eat with the rest. When they had finished they could come up and take the helm and lookout while I and the less experienced dinghy girl could have our meal. 

          When the other two had finished eating the girl took the helm and the lad stood lookout and stand by. As the last of the sun was coming through the lessening clouds like spokes of a cartwheel, my watch-mate and I decided to eat on deck.  Mugs of soup and thick slices of buttered bread were handed up and hungry as we were, they went down very well.  When finished and waiting for the main course we both stood up and moved to the sidedeck and chatted away.


The main course was Spaghetti Bolognaise and we were given large plates of hot, spicy food.  I finished mine and asked if there was any left.  There was – and another plate of spaghetti was passed up and I said to my companion  ‘God. I am enjoying this.’  ‘ It is good’ she said but would just finish what she had.

          Between eating and nattering I hadn’t really noticed that the swell had slowly returned and increased.  As my colleague had been quiet for a wee while I looked up and saw that she had turned that significant pea-green colour.  I asked her ‘Are you all right?’.  She replied ‘ Oh yes, I’m fine ‘ and valiantly started twisting her fork around a long length of spaghetti.  Three things happened then: accidentally I noisily slurped my forkful of food, the swell gave the boat one of those horrible heaves and my watch-mate erupted pasta and minced meat.

          Strangely, there was nothing on the deck.  Not a piece of anything.  Then I saw why.  I had been wearing the short version of sea-boots with the wide calf.  Every bit of discarded Italian speciality had shot inside one of my little boots leaving some spaghetti tails to make me think of – ‘the wellie with the fringe  on the top.’

          To the female volcano’s weak apology, I muttered ‘ Think nothing of it,’ and uncomfortably sogged below to change.