From the logbook of HMS Skyra Brae
22 June 18–
Just under two months remain before we set out on our longest voyage to date. I confess to a certain restlessness… no, that doesn’t do the feeling justice. I’m antsier than a cat on a hot tin roof. I can hardly turn my hand to anything that doesn’t directly pertain to the trip, alternately mooning about, musing on the trip and our future, and fretting at the thousand minor tasks that occupy me until then.
To packing, planning, provisioning–anything that treats with the trip ahead–I willingly devote hours. Even unwittingly, I devote hours, when I should be elsewhere occupied. But what satisfaction does it relay to plod away at the chores that bring us no closer to the shores of our destination?
When we first took flight, in our hurry we packed all the accumulated equipment, artifacture and assorted detritus of two years into the Skyra Brae; we went, and stood not upon the order of our going. Add to that that accumulation of several years of military men, their cooks, leaders and mechanics… Well, suffice it to say that there is much that must be discarded before we take flight.
And I, in my impatience, am unwilling to be held down by anything we intend to be rid of. Yesterday, trapped in the captain’s quarters by the oppressive heat without, which rendered even the limited cooling powers of the miniature steam Eisbergsantrieb* breathtakingly refreshing, I began emptying hold and cupboard with reckless abandon.
Now pacing my impatience lap for lap is the sudden realisation that we’ve only two months to finish our preparations. It seems at once a terrible great span to be tied to a continent not one’s own, and an impossibly brief period in which to fulfill our obligations and outfit ourselves for an adventure greater than any I’ve previously undertaken.
Inspired, perhaps, by the soothing powers of the Eisbergsantrieb upon my skin, to soothe my nerves I also undertook to school the Purser in the German tongue. Aware that experience is often a better teacher than books, and that the words surrounding the vocabulary are as important as the vocabulary itself, I did not sit him down to learn exercises, but sustained an informative stream of information on my own actions as I worked. It was soothing to me, at least, and he did not storm out of the chamber, so I consider the lesson a success. Though I suppose this last attribute may owe as much to the Eisbergsantrieb as to my expert tutelage.
* An older model ‘iceberg driver’, one of the original model cooling machines out of Germany; it’s nearly impossible to acquire this far west. On days like today, however, it is almost impossible to conceive of my continuing existence in its absence.