Kate sat firmly and furiously in the centre of the boat. She refused to smile and she refused to go near the side. This was ridiculous. When she had pictured a boat she had pictured one of those big, white affairs full of champagne and comfy sofas to recline on. She was meant to be influencering the hell out of this date with photos to send to jealous WhatsApp groups of her amazing night on yacht covered in fairy lights.
The conversation had started so well. Kate had swiped, he had swiped and then “hey” and “hi” had quickly turned into an appealing conversation. This didn’t happen often in Kate’s experience of internet dating and so when he had casually dropped in the information that he OWNED A BOAT Kate had leapt at the offer of a trip out on it.
“You can’t get in a boat with a man you’ve never met! What if he drowns you and feeds you to sharks?” Her sister Polly had shrieked.
“There aren’t sharks in the English Channel.” Kate snapped back, determined not to let anything ruin her boat trip.
“Are you sure? I thought they were all flocking here because of global warming?” Polly sounded unsure.
“No, that’s bees.” Said Kate, mouthing her order to the barista as she balanced her phone on her shoulder, “I promise you there’s no sharks. I’ve checked.”
“But, with or without sharks he could still be a murderer!” Polly was insistent. But it was easy for Polly to be insistent. Polly already had a husband and four children. I mean, not that Kate wanted four. Four was a bit much. Four was way too much - she could only baby sit in shifts now for fear of losing one of them and not noticing. But one might be nice - or at least the husband. And wouldn’t it be great if he had a boat? A boat that had a cosy cabin that she could wake up in all cosy with a cold nose. She’d see her breath above her face and then roll over and there would be… someone who loved her. Perfect.
“I promise not to get murdered. And if I do you can have all my shoes. Listen, I’ve got to go - I’ve got a coffee waiting. Bye bye bye I love you and all your offspring bye.” She hung up and tried to apologise with her eyes to the barista for being rude, without actually saying sorry because her self-help tape said to try and reduce the amount of time she was saying sorry to below ten a day.
Kate had spent the week watching all sorts of videos on how to rig sails, how to duck booms. What the difference between a single hull and a catamaran was and why nobody seemed to be open minded to both. She contemplated getting a life jacket on Amazon Prime and then wondered whether long term it was worse to drown at sea because of long delivery times, or line the pockets of Jeff Bezos in the name of safety. It was a tough call but eventually Kate’s bank balance, or severe bank imbalance made the decision for her and she hoped the yacht would come with life jackets.
Saturday morning had rolled around and she hopped in her red Toyota Aygo and drove down to the marina where she’d agreed to meet Graeme. She wasn’t sure about the name. It sounded a bit serious. And he spelt it the creme fraiche way - “Graeme” - that made her less sure how to hold her mouth as she said than the normal, down to earth “ham” way. But maybe she could shorten it when she referred to him? Maybe if they took the boat down to the Med in the winter she would lean across the dish of olives and say “Could you pass the Malbec, Gray.” And Gray would be a very grown up name for a boyfriend. Gray and Kate - it sounded like a cool PR firm. Much better than Polly and Ryan.
The Marina was packed with shiny boats; their masts stretching up into a clear blue sky. The wind was biting and cold on her exposed face but her matching scarf and hat looked cute and her suede boots were extremely comfortable. Graeme seemed nice as they made introductions. This was also the worst bit: saying hello to a complete stranger when both of you were just trying to work out if kissing would be on the cards. People said you always knew right from the word go if there was chemistry but Kate found she could often be persuaded to become interested in people she had next to no interest in at first. It was surprising how much more open minded she had become as the years had ticked on.
When they reached the boat however, all her resolve nearly came unstuck. Right at the end of a row of shiny, perfect white yachts with names like “Skylark” and “Jessica 2” was a small wooden situation that looked half made of moss.
“She needs a little doing up.” Said Graeme shyly, but from what Kate could see: she needed putting down. Right down. Like, to the bottom of the sea down. Oh god, Kate fervently hoped she wouldn’t be in the boat when it got there. “Do you still want to go out?” Graeme asked, and Kate was far too polite to do what she wanted to do which was run in the other direction screaming.
So, here she was, absolutely freezing, terrified of falling over the side and in danger of being offered a fishing rod for the fourth time and finally caving and taking it.
“Did you bring lunch?” Graeme asked.
If you want to influence how the story goes from here, you can vote in the comments section for what happens in the next chapter
What has Kate brought for lunch?
- Champagne and strawberries
- Pasta in Tupperware
- A complete high tea