Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/10/05/bad_cabbage/

Dolphins, dinghies and underground water levels

And why cabbage is bad

By Guy Kewney

Posted in Data Networking, 5th October 2006 10:20 GMT

Ionian Blog Inmarsat now working nicely, thank you. A little longer on deck, and I will be too, but right now I'm a little queasy...and no, it's not the dolphins that are to blame. I only wish the cook was being a little less smug!

The good news: I won my argument with my crew, and got enough power to transmit this bulletin; and we're moored at a nice stable dock, and the Inmarsat BGAN modem is working beautifully. How I wish I hadn't won the argument.

We're parked at a windsurfer paradise. It's the long beach at Vasiliki, where there are more dinghy schools and board-sailing schools than you could shake a stick at. There is plenty of fresh water for our boat (after being tied up in "sauvage" beaches for some time recently, we were getting low) and if the dockside electricity actually worked, we'd have mains power, too, on Summer Lightning.

It was a bouncy journey from the coast of Cephalonia. Some careless clown went and organised a low pressure storm front somewhere west of here, and the swell is still surging in from the distant Italian shores. I'm not normally seasick on a small boat, and after nearly two weeks on board, I'm quite used to the motion of this boat - to the point that I wobble when I go ashore.

What I wasn't counting on, was the state of the fridge.

We pulled out of Fiskardo, and went north over my protests. I wanted badly to see the Mellisani Lake in some caves south of here where water pours out into the sea. Nothing strange about that, except for the fact that some inquisitive French scientist has proved that the water comes from the other side (Agostoli) of Cephalonia, where it pours into an underground cavern from the sea, driving a big water-wheel. And it drives another one this side.

People always ask "Where does the water go?" and this guy poured blue dye into it. A couple of years later, the blue started emerging from the opposite side of the island, and everybody says: "How interesting.." and nobody ever seems to realise that the other side of the island is at sea level, same as this side - so how does it flow down hill from sea level to sea level?

[I have a theory...]

So we didn't go to the Mellisani underground lake. We turned the motor on, and chugged north, past Ithaca on our right, towards Levka again, and I was charging my PC and BGAN terminal. And the cook wanted to take the helm, so I went below to help the boat owner clean up after breakfast.

I opened the fridge.

OK, the cabbage was my fault. I bought it. I put it into the fridge. The milk was not my fault. It was spilt (in the fridge) by someone else. Both are biological substances, however, with normal decay patterns - biological processes which had, erm "proceeded" normally, since there was no refrigeration going on to inhibit it. It had proceeded for some time. It was ugly in both biological processes. Was it a crime? Yes, possibly it was a crime. But no crime was worth the fight I found going on in the cockpit as I staggered, pale-faced, into the light, swallowing hard.

"You did it!" accused the Irish rugby player.

"No I bloody didn't!" shouted the indignant cook.

"You're always bloody doing it," bellowed the enraged Irish rugby player. "You say it's the beans, you say it's the beer, you say it's the wine..."

I explained that the smell was, in fact due to the opening of the fridge, which was now warm enough to allow fermentation of everything in the drainage system.

"It's all YOUR fault!" they accused. Yes, can't argue. Not until after the seasickness pill takes effect, anyway. I went and took the helm, because that helps.

We were looking forward to a play on a fast sailing dinghy in Vasiliki. "You just go to one of the schools, and give them money," said the flotilla leader.

Not so. We have arrived. We went to the schools. There is, probably, a dissertation to be written on "employee motivation" about these things: we were even prepared to pay a horrendous €35 for an hour of sailing, but they still wouldn't accept our money. Too much "work" involved, and the staff get none of the extra revenue.

Never mind. We'll be able to get a dinghy, I'm told, at Sunsail's Vounaki base when we get home.

Finally, dolphins! Nothing to do with any sort of technology. We ran into a rain shower; we got drenched. Fish started jumping. We thought: "It's the rain..." and then one of the grey, surging waves turned out to have fins, and a tail. And then there were more - and it was a pod of Greek dolphins, hunting a school of fish.

I was spell-bound. I wish I could have thought of my camera... ®