The Nonentity
Chapter 1

Caution: This Romantic Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Romantic, Heterosexual, Interracial, First, Oral Sex, Petting, Slow,

Desc: Romantic Sex Story: Chapter 1 - He's just not noticeable - you'd pass him in a crowd. Jim Smith tried hard to fit in to society, but eventually decided to go sailing. This isn't a travelogue, but it is the story of his voyage and how he found someone to love him on the way.

I'm one of those people you don't see. Folks look in my direction and their eyes sort of slide off me. Perhaps I should have been a spy; I gather it would have been an asset in such an occupation. Or perhaps a private detective?

I've never understood it; I don't think I'm bad looking; but except at registration, the teachers never noticed me at school. Despite being reasonably intelligent, getting good exam results and a two-one degree, I might as well not have existed. I tried; I joined things, I volunteered with the result I ended up with all the scut work that no-one else would do. At least from time to time I got an acknowledgement... 'Jim Smith? I don't know what we'd do without him'. Yes, even my name is nondescript.

I volunteered for homeless centres and soup kitchens; did night courses in everything from embroidery to t'ai chi. I tried joining a bridge club, but didn't have the right mind-set for the game, though I got competent enough at it. Tennis club? Ditto. The gym? Same as always.

The breakthrough in the end, though I didn't realise it, was learning to sail. I didn't find friends immediately, just acquaintances, same as always, as I worked my way through the courses. Moving up to keel-boats competent crew, to day skipper to coastal skipper to offshore ... gradually it became necessary to be close to people as we gained experience. Even so, it was very much on a professional level and didn't extend past time at sea.

I bought a small, cheap amateur-built plywood yacht with very basic facilities and spent as much time as I could with her. She sailed very sweetly in fact and I had a lot of fun. Lonely fun, 'tis true, but pleasure none-the-less. Sailing is one of the few activities where it is possible to really get away from civilisation.

Then there was internet dating. I actually had a few dates ... never more than one with anyone, though. The moment they met me, it was same old, same old. But I did work up correspondence with women all over the world, knowing the likelihood was I'd never meet any of them.

I read a lot. From early years, I was fascinated by romantic stories and it was a pleasant fantasy to imagine myself in the place of the male protagonist. I suppose the name Richard Mason is not well known today. He wrote in the forties and fifties about relationships that were frowned upon at the time, between English middle-class men and oriental women. You might recognise 'The World of Suzy Wong' and 'The Wind Cannot Read'. Nevil Shute was another. The idea of going against a cultural taboo for love was immensely attractive and so was the idea of a Chinese or Japanese girlfriend. Of course, I never thought it would come to anything, but I corresponded with young women from all over, especially the Far East. I was pretty sure most of them were on the make; asking me to send them money was something of a give-away, especially when they cut off contact when I wouldn't send anything. Of course, there was no guarantee that the emails were even from women, let alone the women in the pictures on the web-site!

How does the quote go? 'There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.' I said I read a lot! It's amazing what snippets you can pick up by accident. Anyway, I won the Lottery. A bit over a million quid. I knew that if word got out I had that much money, the women who had never looked at me in the past would suddenly behave differently, but I wasn't interested in anyone for whom money made a difference to the acceptability of a man.

What I did was continue to live and work just in the same way, whilst looking around, discreetly, for an ocean-going yacht that could be managed single handed. I thought I might sail round the world; it would be an adventure. I obtained a passport and looked into the various permissions and visas I would need for the places I wanted to visit.

I fell in love with 'Farsight' at first view. Up on blocks in the boat-yard I could see the fair lines of her hull, the long keel; she was built in stainless steel (very unusual) with mahogany trim, she was Bermudan cutter rigged. That is, she had a large triangular main sail and two smaller sails in front; staysail and jib. The mainsail had slab reefing; the sail had lines of short cords which could be used to reduce the effective area of the sail. It was a tedious method and demanding in difficult conditions, but simple and reliable. At thirty-six feet, she was comfortable, too. Well equipped, with auto-helm, radar, echo-sounder, GPS, even a satellite set up so you could access the web for weather information ... or entertainment.

The danger for long-distance solo sailors is loneliness. I know, I'd been alone all my life; I should be used to it, right? Wrong. There's a big difference between being alone in a crowd, with people around, changing scenery and so on, and being alone in a small boat in the middle of an ocean, nothing in sight but water. Seriously, I knew from my reading that many solo sailors have mental problems, up to and including acute psychosis. Suicide, and irrational, dangerous decisions may be taken as a result of hallucinations and/or delusions. With the equipment aboard Farsight, I needed to be only as alone as I wanted to be. Furthermore, I could send articles or a weekly diary to yachting magazines. I didn't think of that at the time, that came later, but at least I was aware of some of the potential.

She was a hundred and fifty grand. Not a lot, by quality yacht standards, but she wasn't the sort of vessel in demand for recreation, weekend sailing. She wasn't luxurious enough for the wealthy and was too expensive for the impoverished, and she'd been on the brokerage list for over a year, the price reduced several times. I could probably have beaten the price down some more, but I've never been good at that. I agreed to buy at the asking price, subject only to a satisfactory survey and a test drive, not that I had any doubts about her, and handed over a cheque for fifteen grand as a deposit.

The survey – not that there was any danger of serious defects – made only minor comments, all of which were satisfied without question before she was lowered into the water. We left Shotley Marina mid morning on the ebb and sailed out past Harwich and Felixstowe container port into the North Sea, where I put my dream boat through her paces. She was perfect; everything I wanted and more. She was stable directionally, but responded positively to the helm. There wasn't a hint of hesitation in tacking, no suggestion she might miss stays. Okay, she was a little slow answering, but I didn't want a fin-keeled boat that would turn on a sixpence to manoeuvre in tight spaces in East Coast rivers. I wanted a solid, seaworthy, comfortable vessel to cross the wide oceans.

I couldn't complain about her speed, either; in the force five westerly wind, she was reeling off almost seven knots on a reach, six and a half close hauled and six on a run. Pretty good. A week later, I was handing over a Banker's Draught for the balance, and she was mine. I was in love and very, very happy.

I had the summer to cement my relationship with Farsight. In early August, I had a call from the brokerage firm, asking if I'd be willing to accept a call from the previous owner. I didn't have a problem with that and in due course spoke to a lady with what I can only describe as a 'genteel' voice. She and her husband had commissioned and equipped Farsight in order to spend their retirement cruising the world; however, before they had a chance to even sail her, he was diagnosed with one of the obscure cancers that even modern medical science can't do a lot about; he had only months, perhaps weeks, to live. Could I possibly take them for a day sail?

My heart went out to them and I agreed, suggesting that, if he could cope with it, that they come down Friday evening, stay in the double cabin I grandly thought of as the 'stateroom', come out with me for the day and either go home that evening or have another night on board. I think she found it difficult to believe I was willing to do that.

Mrs Dunston (Emily, please) was tall and obviously fit with close-cropped grey hair and a weathered complexion. Charles Dunston (Charles) ... was skeletally thin, stooped, and yellow with jaundice. His eyes, though, were still bright with intelligence and interest. I'd had a meal ordered from the Marina restaurant and we sat in the saloon to eat it as we shared something of our enthusiasm for the sea.

I told them of my hopes of circumnavigating the world, "Not," I emphasised, "non-stop. I want to see something of the places I've only read about. The Canaries, Cape Town..."

They were nodding in comprehension. "I'm glad," Emily said, "Farsight is going to do what we intended, even if we won't be on board to see it."

We had a pleasant 'jolly' about the next day. Charles took the helm for a few minutes, just to get the feel, but wasn't up to standing for long. He and his wife sat in the cockpit and talked quietly or commented to me about pilotage hazards in the area. Emily made sandwiches for lunch. It was a lovely day; a moderate south-westerly breeze, a few puffy white clouds in the sky and sunlight glinting off the ruffled water. We got as far as Orford to the north, headed out and circled the old Roughs tower, and were back in the marina by six.

My guests declined my offer of staying the night; Charles was very tired, and they left me wondering what it was that had been different. Eventually I realised it was that ... they had seen me. I was a person to them.

Charles died barely two weeks later. I went to the funeral at Heath Road Crem in Ipswich. Emily was pleased to see me and made a lot of my 'kindness' in taking them out in Farsight. I just shrugged. "It was my pleasure. I'd have been going out anyway and I feel I owe you something. I wouldn't have my perfect boat if it wasn't for you."

She gave me a warm hug. "Keep in touch," she said, "let me know how I can follow your voyage."

"Come with me," I said impulsively.

She shook her head, smiling sadly, "I don't think so. It was our dream, Charles and me, but it wouldn't be the same without him. Besides..." she broke off. "Thank you, Jim, but no, I don't think so."

At the end of September, I had Farsight craned out, her bottom cleaned and the anti-fouling re-done. I handed in the required four weeks' notice of my resignation

My notice resulted in a summons to Human Resources, followed by a summons to my line manager. When it got as far as the Managing Director, who offered me a promotion and a raise ... a substantial raise ... if I agreed to stay, I had to say as evenly as possible;

"If I'm worth that much now, why wasn't I offered more before?"

He had the grace to blush. "I'm sorry, er ... Jim," notice, he had to fumble for my name? "We really should have. But you're so quiet and competent, you just get on with things without making waves."

I shrugged in acknowledgement. "Conceded. But as it happens, I have planned and budgeted for at least a year out. I have a yacht and I'm going to sail round the world."

If he'd had any hair I think his eyebrows would have disappeared into it. As it was, they made it much higher up his head than I would have thought possible. "Can you do that? I mean, isn't it dangerous?"

"I'm a qualified Ocean Yachtmaster," I told him. "I've been learning to sail seriously for years; weekends and holidays in the season. It's my main interest."

"Well, well. I would never have thought it," he said. "Seriously, we really don't want to lose you permanently. If you're agreeable, we'll hold your resignation on file and give you indefinite leave of absence. If you still want to leave when you've done your sailing, of if you want to settle in another country or something, we'll accept an email, phone call or letter as confirmation. If you want to come back, an email, call or letter a few weeks before and you can have your place back with the promotion. How does that sound?"

"It sounds fair enough," I agreed. "I have to say though, I might well not be looking for a job in the same line of business when I return."

"I suppose not."

Those last few weeks were taken up with handing over my workload and final preparations, which included arrangements with 'Cruising Sailor' for emailing diary entries describing the journey. I neither needed or expected payment and I wasn't disappointed!

I must admit that, my two bedroom flat in Ipswich being let, my car sold and such possessions as I didn't want to take with me in storage (thank you, Big Yellow), as I rode in the taxi to Shotley, I did wonder, briefly, about what I was doing. If there had been anything for me in England, I might have turned back; I'm not really adventurous. But I put it out of my mind when I dumped my dunnage in the cabin.

I left Harwich Haven at dawn on a falling tide in early October. Too late in the year, really. But I had nearly twelve hours of daylight to traverse the shoals of the Thames Estuary. I was aiming for Ramsgate as a first objective. A steady south-westerly gave Farsight a decent six knots; I saw the Medusa buoy after an hour and altered course slightly to the east to cross Goldmer Gat. Another hour saw me crossing the East Swin; a little longer and I turned south by the Sunk Head Tower. As the Black Deep trends to the South-west, I had to put in a tack before crossing the Long Sand at Foulger's Gat. From there I could almost relax, but for watching out for traffic, of course.

Crossing the routes out of North Foreland might have been tricky, but I saw hardly a thing, and I was tied up in Ramsgate not much more than eight hours from starting, in no hurry to start the sleepless part of my journey.

On the other hand, there was no point in waiting for the equinoctal gales. I was up at dawn again, taking the last of the ebb out of Ramsgate and south between the coast and the Goodwin Sands. During the ebb, currents run from west to east in the Channel and south to north along the East Coast. As a result, under sail it took me nearly three hours to pass the South Foreland and turn south-west. At that point I had no desire to beat to windward through the heavy commercial traffic from Dover and Folkestone, so I started the engine and with a little help from the tide passed Hythe three hours later, turned south and shut down the engine. Close-hauled, I beat westwards; it was pretty well dark by the time I passed Hastings but I kept going and anchored in Chichester Harbour just on thirty hours from Ramsgate. It being midday, near enough, and after the coffee I'd drunk through the night, I wasn't really sleepy by that point. So I cooked a hot meal, made sure everything was as well as it could be, had a light tea and fell in my bunk as night fell. I was out like a light.

Twelve hours sleep, near enough, and I still had a couple of hours of the ebb to help me out into the Solent, under power as the wind was still steady in the south-west. But as soon as I was clear, it was back to sailing. South at first, three hours of tension watching for big ships on their way to France and the Channel Islands. Fifteen hours from up-anchor, I was entering Poole Quay Boat Haven, with every intention of a full day's rest and two nights solid sleep.

12th October.

Off I go again ... twenty-four hours to mooring at Brixham, another day's break – the last I intended before sailing out into the Atlantic.

17th October.

The Bay of Biscay lived up to its reputation. The gale, force nine (officially a 'strong gale' with winds of up to fifty miles an hour) had me hove to for three days anxiously watching the GPS to see if I needed to motor west, drinking cold drinks after the first few hours and eating cereal bars, chocolate and Kendal Mint Cake to try to keep strong.

Farsight showed her quality. With a tiny storm jib and trysail (a small replacement for the mainsail) she rode the waves like a gull and although I was chucked about, I never worried about my ship. I did clip on a safety line though, whenever I was on deck. It gave me something to put in my diary for Cruising Sailor, of course. A fortnight after the gale subsided, I made it to Funchal on the fourth of November.

I've been told there are young women who get around the world by hitching a lift with yachtsmen. They are sometimes referred to as boat bunnies. Well. I certainly saw some. But, you know, despite my tan and beard (I decided early on that shaving was not practical single handed aboard a sailing boat), they didn't see me. They'd wander up, look the boat over and their eyes would slide over me as if I wasn't there. Perhaps, for them, I wasn't. I considered patronising a paid professional but decided that, even if the risks were worthwhile, the total lack of emotional contact wasn't.

And that was it for Madeira. Weather forecasts, top off water and fuel, replenish stores and fresh food and get ready for the North-east Trades...

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