The fresh sea air was one of Captain Mandela’s favourite things about his job.
Even after all these years, there was something about the twinkle of the night sky and the blustery breeze of the ocean that roused his spirit and brought a glint to his eye.
“Captain” Jack Mack Johnson called from behind him, “Two hours to port, Eva has called a meeting in five.”
Mandela turned to his first mate and nodded his approval before turning back to gaze out at sea from the stern of his ship #Backinaminute.
Behind him the footsteps of Mack Johnson’s well worn leather shoes could be heard clattering off the wooden floor as he hurried across the deck and down the stairs to the cabins in order to rouse the rest of the sleeping mates.
It was early morning, but the sky was still black and the stars were still shining brightly.
The air was clean and fresh, denying all knowledge of the hardship it had inflicted on the ship and crew just a few short hours ago.
Yesterday’s storm had been much worse than anticipated and it had been all hands on deck to survive the day.
With hours to port, #Backinaminute would need get some attention the minute they reached land, a lot of damage had been done.
Nothing that couldn’t be fixed, but for Mandela the sooner his beautiful boat was back in order, the better.
At 45, Captain Mandela was in healthy shape for a man of his age.
Well worn muscles hung from a strong, lean frame and his well defined facial features fooled many a pretty thing that he was years younger than he was.
His chiselled jaw clenched and contracted as he contemplated yesterday’s storm and the effect it would have on the days ahead.
Scratching his stubble, with frustration he went over the latest conundrum.
They were supposed to pick up a new client tomorrow when they port in Los Angeles, but the ships engineer Jojo has said at an estimate it would be two weeks before #Backinaminute was ready for sea once more.
Looking back over his right shoulder, he could see the torn canvas of the sail flutter with the wind and some loose cords flail about whimsically.
It physically hurt him to see his ship in this condition.
With a deep sigh he returned to his stance of solitude, staring out to sea.
A light breeze blew through his carefully maintained mane of auburn locks, catching stray wisps of hair and tossing them in careless swirls above his head.
Far far off in the distance, Mandela contemplated, somewhere amid the darkness and the slowly breaking light there lay the answer to all his problems.
Somewhere between night and day, between light and darkness, between land and sea, lay his happiness.
Mandela loved his life at sea, there was no doubt about that.
His mind strayed back to his life on land before he absconded to the oceans.
How was his family?
His brother Mitch and his sister Mary.
His mother Audrey and his father Charlie.
It had been too long since he had seen them all. He would send them an email once they reached Los Angeles this evening he resolved.
His ex-wife Kate was also long overdue some sort of sign he was still alive and kicking.
Several moments passed like this, Mandela lost in mindless contemplation of the sea and his sanity until he jolted himself into motion and headed to the control room.
In the control room, Eva and Jack Mack were waiting for him.
“Right,” Mandela said, “this won’t take long.”
“As you are aware, the ship has suffered some damage during yesterday’s storm, in fact, Mandela said, shifting from one foot to the other, folding his arms and staring down the table at the wall behind Eva and Jack Mack, “we are lucky to be still afloat.”
SIlence descended as each one individually digested this information.
“It is not often we experience such dangerous weather,” Mandela continued, “Well done to both of you for getting us through it in one piece.”
Mandela nodded to Eva to take over and leaned back off the wall behind him.
“As you know,” Eva began, “we were scheduled to pick up a new client tomorrow afternoon and head across to the Carribbean for a three week trip.
“This is no longer possible. The ship will need at least two weeks in the yard before we can get back to sea.
Eva turned to Mandela, “This means we need to contact the client and let him know we won’t be going anywhere for awhile.
Mandela nodded, “I’ll get lucy on it as soon as she wakes.”
“Let him know we are happy to recommence the trip once the ship is ready for sail, but you know these celebrities, two weeks is like a year to them, it may not be possible for him to reschedule.”
“Who is it this time?” Jack Mack asked.
“Jack Penny” Mandela said with a smile.
“Jack!” Sammi exclaimed, getting in on the action, “I bet he will reschedule, he lives for these trips away with us.”
“I didn’t know it was one of our return clients,” Eva said relieved, “That should be much easier to explain,” Eva glanced uncertainly at Mandela.
“It also means,” Mandela said taking the cue, “that there is an unscheduled two week holiday coming up,” he looked around as the realisation slowly dawned on them both.
“Two weeks, “Mandela said again, “in LA,” he continued, “on holiday.” he concluded waryly.
“Magic” Jack Mack said, quickly sharing his views on the situation.
Eva squealed loudly and grabbed Jack Mack by the arm.
“Before you get super excited” Mandela said, cutting through the chat to keep on track.
SIlence quickly fell as they all waited for the bad news.
“While on land the usual rules apply, look out for each other, try not to break any laws and of course do not, I mean, do not, under any circumstances, bring anyone back to this ship. for a night, an hour or a minute, Mandela riterated. It is not allowed. Is that clear? Mandela asked, looking around the table.
Collective nods, met his gaze.
“Alright,” Mandela said, looking at Eva. “Two hours to port?” he asked.
“Less,” Eva replied.
“Two hours before your holiday begins,” Mandela said, “ Wake the crew and get started on cleaning the deck and prepping the guest quarters.
“Yes captain,” Jack Mack replied for them both.
“Tell Lucy I want her to tell me that everything is sorted with Jack Penny by the time we reach shore.
“No problem,” Eva said breezily.
“Tell Sammi to come see me the minute he is up and dressed,” Mandela said directing his attention to Jack Mack, “I want to organise two weeks pay for each crew member, this is a paid holiday,” he said.
“ Yes sir” Jack Mack said with a grin.
Everyone else better make sure the cabins are clean and the guest area is ready to go, I don’t want any last minute jobs in two weeks time, alright?”
“Alright,” Mandela said, looking around, “We are done.”
Eva and Jack Mack scuttle off in a hurry and Mandela mans the control room, keeping a watchful eye on the coordinates as they sail closer and closer to port.
Two weeks holidays in the middle of September in LA was not something that happened often for these guys and Mandela had no doubt that they were going to make the very most of it.”