Chapter 21


From diary notes recorded in 1978

This teaser leaves out a few introductory paragraphs to get straight into the action of meeting John Lomas after six years, rekindling memories of our first encounter. 

Kalifi, Kenya ~
When meeting him here, he was secretive about his plans, and no wonder we learnt years later after stumbling across his novel, Smugglers Wind. But when talking with him next to his boat, while trying to follow his roundabout narrative leading me astray, I gazed into his pale blue eyes that still cast a faraway look, and saw a flash of Vanesa. And that raced me back to Sri Lanka 1978, to a little girl with those same pale blue eyes and dark straight hair cut in a bowl like a Japanese child. Rather quiet and composed for a seven-year-old child. Next flashed images of Jason and Jerome, unstoppable, bouncing, and bounding about on John Lomas’ yacht, enticing and teasing this reserved Japanese girl to come play their games, to swing from a halyard as if Tarzan and Jane before dropping into the water.

For a moment, let’s drift back to ‘78 and live again this pint-size adventure of a young lady discovering a new life meeting two lads discovering their first young lady. This tale begins upon our return from a visit to the Sri Lankan highlands.

It was late when we got back on board, and by the time we’d paid our guard and rowed him ashore, with our energy levels below zero, we went straight to bed.

The next morning, the boys gradually got started back into school while Jude and I cleaned and packed away our gear. During this we noticed a new boat in the anchorage, a low freeboard sloop painted dark blue. It appeared silent for a long time, perhaps an hour before a slender man my age appeared. From our cockpit, I waved, and he waved back. Then an Asian lady appeared, coming up their steps. Black straight hair, slender, sculptured figure that started me thinking, Hmm, that’s something different. And I began looking forward to a visit.

Around an hour later, finishing my work and seeing the boys heads down in school and Judith elbow deep in laundry, I quietly abandoned ship to slip over, and so I met John Lomas, his brother Melvin and partner Hatako, from Japan.

A porcelain teapot decorated with temples and mountains stood steaming on the cockpit seat, so when asked, I settled in for a cuppa.

John grooving on music driving Banyandah

One of the first things that John told me is he built his yacht in Japan, and at once my ears pricked up, and I encouraged him to go on. Seems John had lived in Japan for eleven years, arriving there from a desire to see the country and fell in love with Japan the very first moment he landed. Because of his sharp western good looks, he straightaway found work as a male model for television and magazines. As a result, he began adopting a completely different way of life. John stayed and worked his last years as an English teacher and translator. Fascinated, I egged him on for more details, and learnt that he was fluent in Japanese; even proficient with the three forms of their writing. John next mentioned being married in Japan, but not to a Japanese woman, but to a Scottish lady he met there in the same business. He somewhat shocked me next by saying that they had a child.

“Child?” I questioned.

John had a quiet nature highlighted by thoughtful, unhurried movements that formed part of his charm. Poetically moving forward after my query, raising his eyebrows, he turned and called through the companionway.


Making toy sailboats from trash

Half an hour later ~

“Hey Jerome, let’s go,” Jason called, shovelling the last half of his sandwich into his mouth. And in a flash, both donned briefs and were over the side.

Splash, splash, they sped like torpedoes for our new neighbour while Jude and I watched through the half-opened curtains of the saloon windows.

They swam once around the boat, then struck up a conversation with John’s brother Melvin, relaxing against the cabin top. We heard their voices loud and clear, so it wasn’t surprising to see John and Hatako appear.

We saw John’s hand beckon them aboard, and without hesitation, our two fiery demons were pulling themselves out of the water by climbing up the stays.

Busy again, looking only occasionally until we saw fresh tea and cakes brought out.

Next to catch our attention, Jason and Jerome let out loud yelps, followed by an even louder splash. Back at the windows, we’re in time to see the Two J’s scrambling back onto John’s boat. In a fun action scene, both raced in a flurry up the ratlines, where next, as expected, Jason, the first to mount the top bar, pounded his chest in a double-fisted war cry before jumping, wiggling, shaking and yelling then disappearing into the water in a huge splash.

Phew! One gone. Next, number two.

Jerome dive-bombed his brother then they swam noisily around the boat before climbing up to do it over again. Our sons’ outright display of having fun proved so infectious, Melvin soon joined their circus that quickly exploded into a howling free-for-all. Feeling pangs of jealousy, but best to let the boys have their own happening. So, Jude and I just stood watching at the galley window.

Hours later, our sons returned from their visit, both excited about the Japanese boat and the strange things on it.

“They have bamboo down below.” Jerome had rushed to tell his mother. “There’s a whole wall of it.”

“Yeah,” Jason yelled, “and their cups are made from bamboo too. Only bigger! Remember the cakes, Jerome.”

“Yeah, I saw you drop yours, Jas. You squashed it on the seat.”

“I did not!”

“Hey!” I called, “What about the girl. Did you meet her?”

“Oh her,” Jason said with an exasperated expression. “She didn’t talk.”

“Why? Couldn’t you get her into your fun?”

“Oh, she didn’t want to. John asked, but she only said No! Is she Japanese, dad?”

Next day, the boys harassed their mum to finish school fast, and straight after dismissal, with a fresh ker-splash, they raced for the blue boat floating close by. Galle Harbour is a tropical place, so why row when you can swim?

Quickly there, John welcomed them aboard for a repeat ceremony of the day before; tea and cakes in the cockpit—this time Hatako performing the service, with Vanesa present, looking every bit as Japanese.

A boatman’s life is not just filled with idle time, so, watching briefly, I set off to put something right…. [MORE]


Around the World In Ever Increasing Circles

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Maldives Islands Escape

Maldives Islands Esacape