The dance party didn’t last long; only a couple more songs, then Jimmy went down to work on dinner and the crew settled into their routine. I tried to decide what to do with myself since my place on the boat when we were under way was still a bit ambiguous. Byte Bucket wasn’t just a sailboat, it was also the home of one of the nodes for the bizarre cloud data storage firm Really Remote Desktop, and that was why I was there. This hundred-foot sloop was my co-op job placement as part of my Computer Science degree. The server room built into the bilge was my domain, but when we were sailing my job was to stay out of the way and make sure I didn’t fall overboard.
I made my way out of the cockpit and into the main salon that was built up in front of the working end of the boat. It was a large open space with a lovely hardwood floor that was much better suited to a dance party than the cockpit, but there was something about hanging out in the cockpit at sea that just felt right. Open air, the sound of the waves — it was where you wanted to be when you were getting underway.
Inside, there was a TV and a bar, plus seating along the sides, so we spent more time here in bad weather or when we were trying to just relax out of everyone else’s way. No one was there now as I made my way to the interior of the boat by hanging on to the evenly spaced handholds along the wall. It was almost second nature now, but I still had the odd bruise from my first few days on board.
I carefully stepped down the companionway stairs facing backwards. They were steep and while most of the crew walked down them facing forward, I wasn’t keen on ending up on my butt. Down below was taken up with the galley on one side with its kitchen area and large table where we shared meals. There was a short hallway with toilets and showers along the sides, which led to the shared bunk room. That was where I ran into Martin.
He made a face. “What would be the point? I can’t exactly change my mind now.” I’d been sure he was going home when we were in the Galápagos. I didn’t know the details of his contract, but I knew he’d only signed on in a desperate bid to earn enough money to get back home after getting stranded in Mexico. I could understand the tension between wanting to get home and the call of adventure. Especially if adventure wasn’t exactly what you were looking for.
I nodded. There wasn’t any reason to belabour it — if he wished he’d made a different choice, it was too late now. “You going to check on the servers?”
“Might as well,” I said. “I should get into the habit of monitoring them daily. I’m kind of hoping I can figure out some way to get a little speed boost out of them. I know that the transfer rates I’m seeing are consistent with this application, but it’s just so hard to accept when you’re used to proper broadband…” Martin looked like I felt when the others got deep into the boat talk. “Sorry. I guess I’m just rubber ducking.”
I laughed. “It’s programmer-speak for thinking out loud. It’s not about conversation — you could be talking to a rubber duck.”
“Well, I’d like to think I’m more useful than bath toy, but it wouldn’t be true in this conversation.”
“I’ll try to keep my more boring conversations to myself.”
“Nah, I don’t mind being your rubber duck,” Martin said, “so long as you don’t expect anything more complex than quack in response.”
We were both laughing when Tulia came around the bulkhead. “What are you two up to? That sounded kinda dirty,” she said, grinning.
“It’s — not,” I said, still laughing. “I was going on about work and then I said I was—“
“Never mind,” Martin interrupted. “It’s too hard to explain.”
Tulia rolled her eyes at us but she was smiling. “I’m on night watch tonight, so I’m going to try to get a nap in. I hope this rubber ducking isn’t too loud.”
“Oh, god,” Martin said as she carefully walked down the passage toward the bunks, her round body jiggling as she laughed. I noticed him following her with his eyes and hid a smirk. “That did sound pretty bad.”
“Could have been worse. I could have been explaining about the interaction between the master and the slave.”
“I had no idea you computer nerds were so kinky.”
“Seriously?” I asked. “You have been on the internet, right?” He made a face and I chucked him on the shoulder. “I’m heading down to my dungeon. See you at dinner?”
“Yeah, if I don’t get bored and come down to spy on your arcane rituals first.”