tagRomanceBoat to Looe

Boat to Looe

byoggbashan©

Copyright Oggbashan August 2017

The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.


*************************************************

Back in the 1960s English Licensing Laws for public houses insisted that on Sundays the premises could be open for lunch from 12 noon to 2 pm and then close until the evening. Many parts of Wales were even worse with public houses shut ALL DAY on Sundays.

All serious drinkers knew the loopholes. If you were travelling, say on a train, the bar in the Restaurant Car didn't shut. But there was another way to continue drinking on Sunday afternoons. Unfortunately my friends and I didn't know about it. That turned our encounter with four delightful young ladies into something to forget.

+++

It started on Saturday evening at a very decorous dance at the YMCA. It wasn't run by the YMCA, but by a young people's club for those over 18. There was no alcohol, only soft drinks and tea or coffee. But the pop group playing were competent and had a reasonable local following. My friends and I decided, despite the venue being dry, that it could be an opportunity to meet women. We were right.

We had arrived early and had claimed a large table in the corner of the hall from where we could watch everyone else. The dancing hadn't started when four young women arrived to find that all the tables had been claimed by those who had come earlier. I looked at the four and recognised Anne, the slightly older sister of Dave, one of my friends. Dave wasn't there tonight.

I stood up, waved and shouted "Anne!".

She saw me, waved back and made her way towards me. Her friends followed her.

"Like to join us?" I asked as they arrived.

My friends, being young gentlemen, or at least pretending to be young gentlemen, had stood up as the women approached. Anne looked at her three friends.

"OK?" she asked.

To our relief the other three nodded. They sat at our table, somehow sorting out which man they would sit next to. Anne sat herself beside me. The others were introducing each other. My friends had stunned expressions. The four women were attractive.

"Thank you, Colin," Anne said. "I hadn't thought this dance would be so crowded."

"Nor had I," I replied.

I might have said more, but I was startled as Anne kissed me.

"Thank you," I spluttered as our lips parted, "but why?"

"Why? I just felt like it. Dave thinks you're a good bloke. So do I. So..."

Anne kissed me again.

That was the start of a wonderful evening for the eight of us. We sometimes changed partners for one or two dances but the pairs that had started the evening ended it together.

Before the dance started I had discussed with my friends something we could do together on Sunday. A local company ran tourist boats for trips around the bay and harbour during the week. On Sundays they advertised a longer trip from Plymouth to Looe in Cornwall and back. The price of that trip was very reasonable and it could be an interesting day out.

While the women had all gone together to the Ladies room I suggested that we should invite the four women to join us on the boat trip tomorrow. A whole day together might establish whether there was any chance of building a relationship. We would have time together when we could talk, unlike at this noisy dance. My friends agreed that it was worth trying but for all four women, or none.

When the women returned I took Anne on to the dance floor for a slow number. As we danced I asked her whether she would be willing to join me on the boat trip to Looe tomorrow. I explained that my friends wanted all four women to go. I would be happy to take Anne, by herself, anytime except tomorrow but we four men wanted to go as a group this time.

After that dance, Anne gathered her friends and they all retreated to the Ladies again. When they returned our invitation had been accepted. We agreed details of where each couple would meet. Despite today's balmy weather we would bring warm clothing. We would get to the quayside half an hour earlier than the scheduled departure. A group of eight might be difficult to book if we arrived just before sailing. All eight of us had been on the local short boat trips if only as children with our parents.

For the last dance we were together as the couples that had begun the evening. Four couples set off in different directions to the women's homes. As we walked out of the venue Anne grabbed my hand and held it. A hundred yards further on she wrapped my arm around her shoulder. Her arm went round my waist. I was happy, unusually sober for a Saturday night, and had a delightful woman hugging me. It was bliss.

It got better. As we got further away from the brightly lit town centre Anne pulled me to a stop between street lights for a long kiss. We kissed between every set of street lights until we were in sight of her parents' house.

Anne climbed a few of the steps leading to the front door. I was slightly disappointed. Although she had kissed me many times on the walk to her house, it looked as if she wasn't going to give me a final goodnight kiss.

She turned around. She grabbed my head and pulled it hard against her clothed breasts. My nose was buried in her cleavage.

"That's to keep you thinking about me until tomorrow," she said as I breathed in her perfume.

She let me go before running up the rest of the steps, leaving me stunned. I hadn't expected that from Anne.

+++

Anne was right about the thinking. I dreamed of Anne and woke with a wet patch on my pyjamas. Why hadn't I considered Anne as a possible girlfriend before now? As I shaved, showered and dressed I started to work out my previous reluctance. Anne was a year or so older than me. She seemed much more mature than many of my friends. But the most important reason had been Jake, her boyfriend that we thought would be her fiancé. She and Jake had been an item for over a year, but the last time I had seen Anne before yesterday had been six months ago.

+++

The four men were on the quayside at an hour we didn't normally see on a Sunday morning. This morning we weren't recovering from our usual Saturday night hangovers. We booked for eight people on the return trip from Plymouth to Looe. The woman taking our money looked at us and asked whether we knew the length of the trip. As it was written in chalk on a blackboard by the kiosk we agreed that we knew. From departure to return would be a minimum of twelve hours and could be longer depending on wind and tide. We would have just over two hours ashore in Looe -- long enough to have lunch.

The boat was the oldest and largest in the tourist boat fleet. There were other trips on the notice board for one hour, two hour, cream tea trips etc. Yet the price for the long return trip to Looe was lower than any of the other trips. We didn't think why that should be. We just appreciated that we could afford it.

As we waited for the women we watched as the crewmen loaded the boat with several barrels of beer and many crates of bottles. For such a short trip the quantities seemed large. Perhaps they were using the trip to supply a public house in Looe?

Anne arrived first. She hugged and kissed me as if we had met after weeks apart. I could see my friends getting jealous until the other women arrived. They weren't as demonstrative as Anne but they made sure the men knew they had willing partners. All eight of us were carrying some sort of bag with outer layer clothing.

We boarded the boat about half an hour before the sailing time. We looked around. Most of the passenger accommodation was covered with a surprisingly large bar. The number of toilets was unusual. There were eight cubicles off the bar area, two forward under the raised bow, and four more above the stern next to the open deck.

After discussion we decided to sit in the open deck area close to the bow. We could face forward and watch the boat's course. While we waited for the sailing time we were standing up watching other passengers coming on board.

Everyone else seemed to be carrying bags of bottles that clinked as they boarded. Most of them were middle-aged or older men with bulbous red noses. The few women looked almost like over-aged whores. I recognised a couple of them who frequented Union Street picking up sailors who were too drunk to notice the unattractiveness of the women.

Apart from the eight of us there were no passengers under the age of forty and most were much older. They all went into the covered area. No one joined us out in the open.

When I had been on boat trips with my parents there had been a continuous commentary as we sailed around Plymouth and Devonport. This time there was nothing except a five minute warning before the sailing time. It seemed an anticlimax as the boat was cast off and headed out past Drake's Island heading for the breakwater. The four couples were close together, heads almost touching, as we pointed out to each other some of the interesting shoreline and the moored shipping.

I decided to ask Anne, first about her brother Dave who I hadn't seen for some time.

"Dave? He's in Hong Kong. He decided to join the Hong Kong Police force for three years."

I was surprised. It must have shown. Anne continued.

"He was disappointed with the results of his Civil Service examination. He failed by a few marks. He can resit, even in Hong Kong, but with experience there he might be able to get into a Police Force here. He is an Inspector in Hong Kong. The pay is good. He gets free accommodation and food so he could save most of his salary. Other people who have come back from Hong Kong have been able to buy a small local house outright."

"Any disadvantages?"

"The risk of death or injury," Anne said. "The statistics aren't that bad but several Hong Kong policemen die on duty every year. The gangs are very aggressive, fighting each other for territory, and they can turn on the Police. I'm worried. So are my parents. Dave's letters home have been reassuring but I'm not convinced he's telling the whole story."

"Jake?" I asked tentatively.

"Jake? You don't know?"

"No, Anne, I don't know. Dave might have told me if he had been around but I don't know much about you recently."

"OK. Jake went to Hong Kong a year ago. He was one of the factors that influenced Dave to go too. I didn't want Jake to go. It wasn't a massive disagreement but I wasn't sure I could wait three years for him. Now I don't have to. A couple of months ago I got a Dear Anne letter from Jake. He's met a Hong Kong girl and got engaged to her. As a result of that engagement he has changed his Police contract. Instead of three years he has signed for fifteen. That means he could be considered for promotion and a Police house."

"I'm sorry," I started to say.

"I'm not!" Anne retorted. "Jake and I were pleasant together. We liked each other but there was no real spark or excitement. We had stayed as a pair because it was comfortable. We didn't get engaged because I think as a married couple we would soon get bored with each other. That was Jake's view too. Now he is history and..."

Anne kissed me. She wriggled on to my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and continued the kiss. We were out of breath as the kiss ended.

+++

I could see we were approaching the breakwater. I thought it would be an idea to get drinks for us before we were in the open sea. I asked Anne what she wanted and went inside the covered area. As I opened the door the thick smoke drifted out. Almost everyone was smoking. They were drinking from the bottles they had brought on board. The bar shutters were down. I asked one of the older men when it would open.

"Not until we're three miles out, youngster," he said.

I went back on deck and told Anne. We didn't appreciate what the three mile comment really meant. I put my sweater on as the wind was getting cooler. Anne put on a light jacket. Anne and I continued to talk. The other three couples were wound around each other. I was appreciating Anne's company. Although I had known her as Dave's sister we hadn't had a long conversation until yesterday evening. We seemed to be on the same wavelength.

Wavelength? Inside the breakwater the sea was reasonably calm with a slight swell. Once outside we were heading straight into the waves. The spray from the bow was passing either side of us. In the sunlight the spray shone. The boat was pitching as it cut through the waves.

About a quarter of an hour later the tannoy announced that the bar would open in five minutes when we were beyond the three mile limit. We felt the boat change course to run parallel to the distant coastline. I waited another ten minutes before going back inside to the bar. It took me another ten minutes to get to the bar through the crowds ordering doubles of spirits. The prices were incredibly low. An orange juice for Anne and a cola for me cost more than two doubles of spirits.

"Soft drinks?" the barman queried. "Most only want duty free alcohol."

Of course. Outside the three mile limit alcohol would be duty free. That's why the spirits were so cheap. There was no duty on orange juice or cola so the prices were the same as on land. I had a small glass on top of each bottle as I made my way back on deck. The boat was rolling and pitching because the sea was on its quarter. It didn't bother me but Anne looked unhappy. I passed her the bottle of orange juice. She smiled weakly and whispered 'thank you'.

Half an hour later Anne was obviously seasick. I had grabbed a galvanised bucket from the scuppers. I was holding it as Anne retched into it. As a crew member came towards the bows to secure some equipment rolling around he looked at Anne carefully. Once he had tied down the loose stuff he spoke to me.

"She's really unwell, isn't she?"

"Yes," I said as Anne retched again.

"I'll get her something," the crewman said.

He was back in less than a minute clutching a pack of tablets and a thermos flask of cool water.

"Try to get her to wash down two of these tablets. She should really have taken them before boarding. Once she's done that I'll get some dry biscuits to settle her stomach. I'm sorry but it will be another two hours before we turn inshore for Looe."

"Thank you," I said. "I'll see if she can take the tablets."

"If she spews them up whole, try again later with a couple more."

He returned seconds later with a packet of biscuits. I would have thanked him but I was too busy trying to get the tablets into Anne who was almost unconscious. He put the biscuits down beside us. I nodded, all I could do as I was trying to persuade Anne to open her mouth.

I was annoyed that the other couples hadn't even noticed Anne's distress. They were too busy exploring each other's bodies with their hands.

+++

The third pair of tablets stayed down, followed by a few sips of water and a couple of biscuits broken into small pieces. I was really worried that Anne was seriously ill. I had never seen someone as seasick as she obviously was.

Twenty minutes later it seemed as if the tablets were working. Anne's colour was slightly better. She had stopped dry-retching almost as soon as she had swallowed the first biscuit and now just seemed tired. I held her on my lap with her head resting on my shoulder. She went to sleep.

Anne began to stir as the tannoy announced that the bar would be closing in five minutes time. When the boat turned towards the coast she opened her eyes and looked at me.

"Sorry, Colin," Anne said, "I've never been seasick before. I don't want to be seasick again. That was horrible."

I tried to assure Anne that I didn't mind. My sweater was stained with vomit. I had checked earlier. It hadn't penetrated to my shirt. Anne's clothing was unmarked. Her vomit had gone into the bucket or on me. Once we were on land I could shed the sweater and get rid of the smell. I had been thinking hard as Anne slept. I couldn't expect her to get back on the boat to go back to Plymouth. That would be cruel, perhaps even dangerous for her.

+++

We arrived in Looe just before 12 noon, the time the public houses open for Sunday lunch. Those who had been drinking all the time the boat had been outside the three mile limit rolled off as a noisy crowd. The boat was due to sail back to Plymouth leaving at ten past two, ten minutes after the public houses shut until the evening.

I had to help Anne off the boat. Her legs were shaking. She was still obviously affected by the sea sickness. She was grateful to be on dry land. I sat her down on a bench, checked she was happy to be left for a few minutes, and shed my sweater, stuffing it into my duffle bag. I went back on the boat and found the crewman who had given me the tablets and water. I gave him the unused tablets and the thermos flask, and a tip.

"She's not coming back with us?" he asked.

"No, thank you. Neither am I. We'll go back another way."

"There are trains to Liskeard every hour. You change there for Plymouth."

Anne wanted to go to a Ladies toilet to clean herself up. I went to the Gents and tried to rinse the vomit off my sweater. Back at the bench I spread my sweater to dry in the sun. I had noticed a cafe near the toilets. A quarter of an hour later I suggested to Anne that she needed to eat and drink something.

"I couldn't," she replied, "not if we're going back on the boat."

"We're not," I retorted. "You're coming back with me by train. I couldn't put you through that again."

Anne took my hand and squeezed it.

"Thank you, Colin. Can you afford the train fares?"

"I think so. I don't know what they are. It depends how much we spend on lunch."

"I'll pay for the train tickets, Colin. If we're going by train, you're right. I need something to eat and drink."

Our friends had gone. We didn't know where. We went into the cafe. I had a crab sandwich made from locally caught crab. Anne had a basic cheese sandwich with a weak cup of tea. Once she had eaten the sandwich her colour started to return. I bought her a second sandwich and another cup of tea. I had to finish half of her second sandwich. After the crab it seemed very bland.

We caught the train shortly before two o'clock. We had a whole compartment to ourselves. As the train pulled away from Looe Anne snuggled up beside me before climbing on my lap.

"Dave was right," she said, "you are a good bloke, Colin. Even when I was being sick over you, your reaction was concern for me, not disgust. I'm sorry I was sick but glad that it proved you are worth knowing."

I couldn't reply because Anne's lips were covering mine. She had shed her jacket as we got in the compartment. She pulled one of my hands up under her top and put it on her breast. I squeezed it through her bra.

By the time the train started to reverse before approaching Liskeard, we were both naked down to the waist. Anne's breasts had been stuffed into my mouth several times. Her panties were beside us and my fingers had been exploring inside her as she moaned above me. We dressed hurriedly before the train arrived at Liskeard.

Anne's legs were still slightly wobbly as we climbed to the main line station. She hung on to me. The main line train, when it arrived, was more crowded so we didn't have a compartment to ourselves. I was slightly relieved. I hadn't brought any protection with me. I hadn't expected to go that far on the boat trip. On the train from Looe we had been close to going too far.

Once back in Plymouth we caught a bus to near Anne's parents' house. Her parents invited me to stay for the evening meal. I was pleased to accept and borrowed their telephone to tell my mother I wouldn't be home for the meal with my parents. My mother was delighted. My parents had been gardening. If I wouldn't be home they could go out to a restaurant. She wouldn't have to cook and they could keep working in the garden for longer.

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