The rain spits and the waves slap.

Liz spots a seal or the frightened scatter of fry when the mackerel come up river. She can watch the tide rise and fall without feeling there’s a better way to use her time.

Liz is sick of mud at low tide, ferries packed with tourists, the wash from speeding weekenders.

The tub loves to sail, leaps forward at the touch of a breeze. The boat’s ropes are green, her deck paint is flaking, weed and mussels dangle from her bottom.

To sleep Liz slides into a quarterberth already occupied by two damp oars, spare fenders and a toolbox. Every locker is jammed, every surface covered. It’s difficult to sleep on land. It’s all so solid. Where is the constant shifting and stirring, murmuring and creaking?

Liz takes down books by her old sailing heroes and adventurers, returning again and again to Slocum. Who after a lifetime of single-handed voyages disappeared at sea. It’s the way to go, doing what you love, no hanging about with lost faculties. 

At dawn Liz casts off and an ebb tide carries her swiftly away. It is almost dark and the lights have come on; the town lights reflected broad and mellow, dancing in the river, and the navigation lights burning red and green, guiding her out.

Liz raises the main.

The castle at the river mouth, straight out to sea.