I sat there completely frozen, my mind was racing searching desperately to find a way to intervene and stop what was unfolding in front of me. But there was no solution to be found, it was all too late, the last week of stressful juggling was all in vain. I knew there was no coming back this time. Our plans together that we had forged over the last two years, all the hours working bullshit jobs saving, all the time spent in finding a lift on a boat. Was all thrown away over one load of bloody washing.
It had been a few days since Luke’s little brain snap at Andre and Hazel. Things had been awkwardly good, everyone had played forgetful like it never happened. I had managed to have a successful chat with Luke the evening of the fish fight. Putting everything back in perspective, reminding him how far we had come to get to this point and how we were too close now to let it all go over a simple personality clash. It was hard for Luke to swallow his pride and bite his tongue, but he agreed to try and had been doing pretty well. Whenever a comment was said that I knew he wouldn’t like or I could tell he was getting wound up over something, I would throw out a random Pokemon reference. This had become our code when on the boat in front of the nudists. My way of telling him to shut the hell up and pull his head in, without ever raising suspicion. Remember, Perspective. And it had been working.
But in that moment in time I could have named all 150 original Pokemon and it wouldn’t have made a difference. We had reached Mt Adolphous (an island east of Cape York) the afternoon before and decided on a lay over before we would tackle the tides and current sailing into the Torres Strait Islands. I had been excited of the possibilities of this place when we first dropped anchor in the bay, it was an epic looking island, a huge mountain surrounded by reef, plenty of opportunities for a days worth of exploring and fishing. But I never made it onto the island, I never cast one single line. Instead I sat there on the boat, a trapped silent witness to the third and final confrontation of Luke and Andre.
Andre was up making a racket at sunrise like always. This particular morning, he was dragging out the little washing machine he has on board and setting it up to run off the generator. We hadn’t sighted it in the three weeks we had been on the boat so notably everything was well over due for a wash. I regretfully decided to take the opportunity to lie in bed a little while longer than usual. Luke on the other hand was up and keenly waiting in line to use the machine. Andre was into his systematic routine by this point, carefully following the laid out steps he had decided were the correct order for things to be done. His plan was a water conscious one, as living on a boat, fresh water tends to be the most precious commodity. So he had buckets everywhere, catching the water to be recycled and used again for each load. A good idea for water conservation. However, not particularly a good idea for the lucky one who gets to have their clothes washed last in everyone else’s filthy water. Turns out we were the lucky ones. Not just after all Hazels and Andres clothes but AFTER all their bed sheets and pillow cases as well. I must admit I felt pretty grossed out by this, having my clothes washed in the water of two old people’s 3 week old filthy bed sheets, the ones they sleep and sweat in every night. Completely starkers. Goo.
But for Luke being a nurse and someone who has studied in-depth hygiene he really wasn’t cool with it. Luke asked politely if we could do ours in fresh water after all theirs. This was out of the question though, it was against Andres system and the water simply could not be spared. What followed was a clash of two stubborn brutes. Luke determined to get his point across of hygiene met with an adamant Andre that it wasn’t an issue as ‘people have been doing it this way for centuries’ and a complete refusal of accepting any other alternative to his laid out plan. I could hear it escalating from our cabin, my heart sinking, fucking hell, the one morning I try and sleep in.
“Skin particles! Sheets are full of them”
“If you’re afraid of skin particles you must be a terrible lover”
Andre the smartass. This really set Luke off.
“It’s the 21st century, I can wash my clothes in clean water, it’s my human right!”
By the time I rushed up there they were already swearing at each other, there was nothing I could do but slump in the chair and watch. Soon the commotion rose the sleeping giant, with a lot of huffs and puffs, slowly up climbed the red-faced hazel out of her dark sleeping chamber. I had never heard the quiet reserved Hazel swear before.
“If you’re going to be like this you can just FUCK OFF LUKE!”
It hit me like a tonne of bricks, harder than it ever did Luke I think. It was over.
The next 24 hours was probably the most awkward time of my life. No one left the boat. Hazel and Andre had overly loud conversations about the situation, I hid in my cabin trying not to listen but hearing everything. Luke sat up on the bow of the boat, on his phone. Fighting Telstra’s lousy reception desperately trying to plan his escape plan. Little flair ups continued throughout the day. The plan was to sail to Thursday Island the next day were Luke would walk the plank and be left behind. I had to decide what I was doing. Andre and hazel wanted me to stay on and they were being overly nice, I couldn’t tell how much of it was real though. As I knew they needed me. They wouldn’t admit it. But they did. No way could they cross the gulf without me. Where did my loyalties lie? Two old strangers that needed help getting their boat to Darwin or my friend who had just threw away everything I had worked so hard to get us?
When I spoke to Luke he had already managed to book a flight for the following day from Horn Island to Cairns. Cairns to Darwin. Then Darwin to Port Hedland in WA. Bloody hell, what for? That fucking new girlfriend. She was working there and promising to set him up with a job in the same bar. Luke had been offered this deal by her a few weeks earlier, unknown to me was how desperate he was for the trip to be over so he could cross the entire country for her. I think the lure of love was to strong for the old boy and it made fighting with Andre that much easier. He had a sweet out option waiting. I didn’t feel very loyal to him at this point given what I had given up to be there. What would I do if I left the boat, return home with my tail between my legs and give up? Or start the whole lengthy process of looking for a new boat for us again?
When we spoke about it that day, Luke promised me it wasn’t the end of our trip together. If I stayed on and stayed sweet with Andre, he would fly and meet me in Darwin before the rally left in July and we would try to find another boat for him. I felt hopeful of the idea, but deep down I knew, it was never going to happen, this would be the last time I would see Luke for a long time. The dream of both of us travelling the world together without flying was over. It was now a solo mission. But did I want that?