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Big Aggie Sails the Gulf

Big Aggie Sails the Gulf

They motored to the middle of Auckland harbour, where Blanco stopped the engine and commanded the crew to hoist sail. No one, including Blanco, knew what to do. As they struggled to sort out the tangled maze of ropes, Big Aggie drifted with the current down the harbour. Eventually they floated, uncontrolled, into the middle of a flotilla of keelers who were jockeying for line positions at the start of a race.

"These boating people are certainly rude," remarked Kate after the fifth boat had passed close by, its crew showering abuse on them.

"Some people are ignorant," observed Blanco. "Why don't they go and potter about somewhere else, instead of mucking about round us?" Once Big Aggies' sails were hoisted, the nature of the yelling from the other boats changed.

"Starboard," yelled one boat, as it bore down on Big Aggie at a tremendous rate of knots.

"Port," yelled Blanco, indicating with satisfaction to his crew that he knew his nautical terms as well.

"Water! Water!" yelled the frantic helmsman on the other boat.

"What does he want water for?" asked Sylvia.

"Damned if I know," said Blanco, unaware that since Big Aggie was on the port tack and the other boat was on the starboard tack, it had right of way. The cry of 'water' had been a demand for Blanco to get out of the way. At the very last moment the keeler's helmsman suddenly realised that Big Aggie was not going to change course. He was forced to take evasive action himself, the keeler rounded up... and crashed into the side of another boat in the race. Pandemonium broke lose as the two crews fought to disentangle their boats. Obscenities flew, and finally fists, as the incident got out of control.

"They're not very good drivers, are they?" remarked Sylvia.

"Probably just learning," observed Blanco, blissfully unaware of the problems he had caused.

Once the crews of the two keelers had exhausted their anger on each other, they turned their attention towards Big Aggie; their menacing glares were returned by a wave from Blanco who called over, "Have you broken anything?" followed by, "Can I help?" Before they could reply, the gun sounded, signalling the start of the race; Big Aggie was forgotten as the crews clambered to gain control of their vessels. They proceeded across the start-line well behind the remainder of the fleet.

"How rude, fancy not even thanking me for offering to help," accused Blanco, unaware he had been saved by the gun.

"I'm going below for a minute," announced Kate once.

Thanks largely to the current Big Aggie had now cleared the inner harbour and they were part sailing, part drifting down the wide stretch of water between Rangitoto Island and the city's East coast beaches.

After a few minutes rummaging below, Kate reluctantly stuck her head through the hatch. "Where's the toilet?" she demanded.

"Up for'ard" replied Blanco. Kate disappeared again, only to reappear after a minute or so.

"I can't find it," she complained.

"It's the green one," advised Blanco.

"The green what?"

"The green bucket."

"You said you had a toilet!" exploded Kate. "You don't expect me to use a bucket, do you?" The thought of Kate perched in the middle of the cabin, atop the green bucket, with the other three looking on, was a little difficult to imagine.

"Bucket and chuck-it," advised Blanco. "What do you expect? This is a 20-foot trailer yacht, not the Queen Mary."

"I expect common decency," advised Kate as she returned on deck. "Now take me to a toilet."

"I don't know what all the fuss is about. Take the tiller," Blanco commanded George. Having handed over the tiller to George Blanco stomped below, grabbed the bucket from up for'ard, stood it on the table amongst the provisions and proceeded, with his back to the others, to relieve himself. Kate, Sylvia, and George, embarrassed, stared around the horizon, pretending not to notice, but their eyes were continually drawn back, as if by magnets, to the sight of Blanco, hunched over the table doing his duty.

"Bucket and chuck-it," Blanco repeated as he returned on deck carrying the bucket and threw the contents over the side to emphasise his point. Unfortunately, he had not allowed for the wind, and the contents turned around and headed back to the boat. Everyone ducked.

"Take me to a toilet," yelled Kate with such finality that Blanco knew he would have to do as he was told.


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