My friend, Peter Matthiessen, was the first Dane to sail solo round the world. These days he makes Aries wind vanes, very clever self-steering mechanisms that keep a boat sailing at a consistent angle to the wind.
Peter has a great approach to life. Everything that happens to him is good luck, and he revels in it. In 2005, he was selling his wind vanes at Southampton Boat Show. We had sailed there in Roaring Girl and taken a berth in a local marina. We had a stand selling dinghies. (That’s another story.)
The way Peter worked these shows was to drive there from Denmark in his van, set up his stall and live in the van for the duration of the show. He knew the gyms and coffee stalls of Dusseldorf, London and Genoa pretty well. In 2004, the plan revealed its flaw, when he locked the keys in the van. He was on the pavement. It was after dark, in September, and getting cold.
He knew we were in a marina, and that our boat has two masts and a light blue hull. There are half a dozen marinas in that town. He visited four of them before he knocked on our hull to beg for a bed. We took him in for the five nights it took to get the spare keys from Denmark.
It was great to have him to stay, with excellent craic, good food and late nights. He gave me the name of the Still Point, Nedlagn’spunkt, a crucial place in my book The Melkjeven Commitment. You might have expected him to be ruffled, but no! He saw it as a great piece of luck, to be afloat a little while, to get to know us better and see other old friends who were camped locally. He wasn’t stressed at all.
I fell over and dislocated my finger this week. It wasn’t even outdoors, let alone on the ice. It’s a PITA because it’s my writing hand, and I might need surgery. But i’m lucky. It happened in a safe place with friends around to help. (Thanks Mary, Jo and Liz.) It didn’t happen last week, when I had horrendous deadlines. And tomorrow, with great excitement, I’m going to the Get Writingconference, and if nothing else, it’ll be a great introductory line.
So wish me luck in my three minute pitch: more is always welcome.
A handful of stones