My friend's schooner ran aground on Monday. I'm sure at some point i'll hear all the details. When i found out, my stomach lurched, and tears sprang to my eyes. Passengers who were aboard were able to be moved to another schooner who had room for them. Meanwhile my friend, who is the captain and the crew had to try to manage while the boat shifted from 45° port to 45° starboard, allowing water to rush in, stuff to float out, and a mad scramble to try and retrieve things as well as right the boat. The water killed all the electronics aboard, and it was 2 AM when she and the first mate were trying to put things to rights.
No one died or was injured. No passengers lost or hurt. The boat is now on the hard and undergoing repairs. This is the height of the sailing season and when my friend makes the money that keeps the business running, so every day out of the water is loads of money not being earned that sees her through winter. She hopes to have all repairs done in a week.
Another friend, who like me, has worked aboard this boat, told me some of the story yesterday as she and her grandson went over to help. I am in the thick of it with work things so couldn't just drop everything and go, but wanted to do something.
Last night i pulled out some frozen beef cubes, as there's still plenty of beef from the half a cow i purchased a few months back. This morning, i made a large amount of beef stew. I wasn't sure how many people were helping, and i don't often cook for a large number of people, but i figured a pot of something nourishing on a grey day when one feels lost was better than nothing. I'd pick up two loaves of French bread, some good butter, disposable utensils and dishes on my way over to the boat.
I've often had those little crises of doubt when making something. Is it good enough, is it enough, oh this isn't so special, are you an idiot? This was no different, and as i chopped up onions and swept some chopped carrots into a bowl, i swept away those thoughts. It wasn't just about lunch. It was showing support for my friends however i was able.
I called the friend who told me to see if they had yet ordered lunch. No, they hadn't. I told her i had a pot of beef stew--how many were there? She said that'd be perfect, and there were about 12. She, as i found out later, had gone out on a snacks/drink run and picked up a few sandwiches as well.
I set up on an empty palette and nearly cried when i saw the boat. Poor old girl shouldn't be on the hard in July. Cappy was busily talking to another schooner captain, the one who had taken her passengers aboard. I went over to Cappy's husband, hugged him, and wished him a happy birthday. I told him i was sure he'd remember this one! I also hugged Cappy and told her i had brought some lunch.
Volunteers, friends, and crew members gathered. One of the last to come to the gathering spot was the first mate. The same first mate who helped me this past Sunday, an amazing sailor who calmly lowered the yawl boat and helped me with my dinghy when i couldn't row against the wind despite trying for an hour. Today, when she came up to me, hugged me, buried her face in my shoulder, and released a few sobs, I held her tightly and allowed my own tears to fall. It was then i remembered what i so often forget--she's a girl of just 17, and it was that girl who needed the hugs and reassurance, who needed to be able to take a minute to cry.
Everyone found places to sit, using milk crates or sawhorses with boards across them. My friend who'd gotten the snacks, sandwiches, and drinks was setting them up, and i encouraged people to help themselves as i lifted off the cover of the stew pot. The grandson had wanted to get a bag of the new flavoured potato chips (crips), spicy ketchup, and most everyone tried them and gave an opinion. For the next half hour, there were stories, jokes, talks of next steps, sleeping arrangements (we've a comfortable guest room if anyone needed a place to stay whilst the boat was being worked on), and a sense of healing. I massaged the first mate's shoulders and back while Cappy's dear friend massaged hers. "Oh, i didn't know massages were included!" Cappy said as she smiled. First smile i saw from her the whole time i'd been there.
Work was soon calling all of us to return. I had to get back in time for a teleconference, and others were heading back towards the boat for their afternoon of cleanup, disassembling, or inventory. I gathered the trash, which had been neatly stowed in piles around the makeshift chairs.
Cappy thanked me once again for the stew, "It was perfect, exactly what we needed," she said as she hugged me good-bye.
I thought about it on my way home. There's some magic that seems to be cooked into meals such as these; comfort, love, and an amazing sense of renewal and strength that comes from just being there.