THOSE QUICKSILVER MOMENTS

April 15th, 2010, posted by Max Jourdan Tags: Max Jourdan, Oceans, Plastiki daily update

I’m not out here on some jolly, grass-fed, organic culinary cruise across the Pacific. I may be crewing this plastik-fantastik, jybe-turkey of a boat, but I’ve got a job to do. So when Jo popped her head out of the cabin and looked out at the ocean and grey dawn with a this-is-not-just-another-day-at-the-office expression I picked up the camera.

Turn on, press record, frame, focus, re-frame. Welcome to my little box tight, rectangular world. Jo’s liquid blue eyes crystallize on the LCD screen. Beautiful against the grey skies. Raw skin and bleached hair floating in the light breeze. I can sense the thoughts formulating on her lips.

A small nudge: ‘What’s up, Jo?’

‘We’re over 1000 miles from any landfall.’ Jo looks profoundly happy. I think: ‘1000 miles from nowhere is where the pilot lands his stricken plane and meets The Little Prince…’

‘What does that mean, Jo?’ I say.

‘It means it would take someone quite a while to rescue us. It means we’re alone.’ The announcement is electric. ‘This is precisely why I took this assignment on’ I think. In my peripheral vision I can sense some members of the crew don’t share our mutual delight. ‘It means we’ve got to be completely autonomous. Out here we can make up the rules. There’s no law. No consumer society. We don’t need to buy anything today. We’re free now…’.

‘Jo, you are a star,’ I mutter and pan across to a vision of freedom – watery, grey, with a cloud base so low you could reach out and touch it.

The wind has died. Strange. Ocean now dead calm. And all that rushing noise of water on plastic has stopped. I shoot Jo and Dave T. taking the sails down. Olav is hovering right next to me. ‘You look so distracted when you work, Max’. I can see his cheeky reflection grinning on the LCD screen. ‘We must go swimming now,’ he says conspiratorially and starts taking his clothes off. There he is, naked and lathered in soap. Olav runs up to the bow and dives in before Jo can implement any safety measures. I want to follow him, but I’m hard at work. Being able to delay gratification, must be an indication you’ve reached maturity. Other crew members are more hesitant. Encouraged by Olav’s squeals and gleeful rumpus everyone is soon in the water. I jump in with an underwater housing and a pair of flippers.

Olav under the boat with some plastic he has found.

I’m concentrating on getting the shots. ‘Look around for sharks’, shouts Olav. The crew are all free to kick their legs in the briny drink that spawned our Darwinian ancestors. Cheap gear, can’t see if anything is in focus. ‘The bottles look like they’ve held out’, says David R. reassuring himself.

I’m still in the water when everyone is back on deck. I hand the camera up to a helpful hand. The water is crystal clear. Shafts of sunlight leading down to where the Krakon and Davy Jones lives. Jelly fish and shoals of fish. Maybe I’ll be lucky and see a hammerhead. ‘But, hey, I’m now free!’ I gurgle doing a forward roll.

They’re hoisting the sails. My towel has flown away, so have my goggles. It’s started to drizzle. I’m late for my kitchen shift and my clothes are sitting in a pool of sea water: ‘What I am going to cook for this greedy bunch?’

Later, chopping onions and stooping for privacy at the navigation station, sat. phone pressed to the ear, a little voice from planet earth comes at me from far away, ‘ Tu reviens quand, Papa? J’aime pas l’école. Je suis triste et tout est nul.’ Tears and snuffling. I feel the guilt of a vagabond dad. Sorry I’m not there to cycle to school, eat Portuguese cakes for breakfast and spot dogs in the park. Sorry for Mum, too. I picture nervous fingers counting out multiplication tables, grammatical constructions and getting to grips with why the French all became free in 1789. But how do I cure the melancholy of a twelve year old. What kid wants to hear paternalistic blah blah: ‘You don’t know how lucky you are, children are starving all over the world. Or Ann Frank died before she even had the chance to grow up.’ It’s hard to say it’s all going to be alright (because maybe it won’t). I’m sorry I haven’t figured it all out yet. I know we’re never free; you just need to look for those quicksilver moments when you imagine you are.

4 comments  | Comments are closed

 

 

  1. Pam T says:

    Your son is lucky to have a Pop that loves what he does and chases the great adventures! My Dad was one of the first cropdusters up here and as kids, we learned to fly, love the outdoors and meet lots of people, respect nature and the hard working life. Every day was an adventure and every day he was away was agony, but it made the reunions so much better….I am one lucky person and your son will one day realize how lucky he is too. You will instill in him the spirit of adventure and life with opportunities!

  2. Mark says:

    I can’t wait to see your film Max … but any feelings of admiration I had for the reason why you are ALL out in the Pacific have now been squashed by pure jealousy! … I’m heading home now, placating myself with the cliché “Freedom is a state of mind” :(

    Please post a few pictures of that Pacific vista / I’ll swap you a picture of the English Channel from my kayak! … Is it safe to take a picture of Plastiki from sea level on your next swim?

  3. Tania says:

    I lovvvvvvvvvve the blog! since i found out about plastiki, i have to check the site out all the time! Such an inspiring and beautiful journey!!
    Best luck,
    Tania

  4. Shore Crew says:

    Thanks Tania – have sent this comment on to the crew :)