The marina was in its usual Saturday morning tourist bustle as Katie made her way down to the dock with the last of her provisions and clothes. The neighbours were going to keep an eye on the house, her trusty 4wd was securely parked in the compound, and this was her last descent. She and Atma (the boat) were ready to go.
And there she was. Katie always felt a sense of pride when she looked at this boat, her traditional lines and planked hull, her teak decks and old world charm. She noticed a woman standing on the other side looking at her boat.
‘Hi there’ Katie called out, walking over to the other side.
‘Hi, is this your boat?’ the woman enquired
“Yes it is, well it was my dad’s and mine but he died last year, so yep, now I’m her skipper’.
‘Yeah I’m glad you think so. She may not have all the modern bling but I think she is beautiful too.’ Katie immediately liked this woman. Most tourists were busy oohing and ahhing over the few luxury yachts that were berthed here.
‘Atma? Did you name her?’ The lady enquired
‘No. She had that name when dad brought her 30 years ago. We are not sure what it means, all we know is that she was made by a family who were sailing around the world when their boat was shipwrecked in a storm of the coast of India. They were rescued and made welcome in India, where they stayed building this boat with the help of a local fishing village. It took them five years to build her and she was launched in 1934. We are presuming it is Indian.’
‘Well you are right this is an Indian word, would you like to know what it means’ The woman asked with a kindly glimmer in her eye. She reminded Katie somewhat of a gypsy that had secrets to tell and half expected her to pull out a crystal ball.
‘That would be pretty special actually. I am literally just about to set off to Tasmania with her.’
‘By yourself.’ Katie nodded. ‘You are a brave one then.’
Katie laughed ‘Brave or stupid.’
‘Well you don’t strike me as stupid so I’ll keep with brave.’ The lady reached out her hand ‘My names Katarina but Tina for short,’
‘Too funny. Mine is Katrina but Katie for short.’
And with that Tina the gypsy woman proceeded to tell Katie what the name of her boat Atma meant. ‘Atma in Indian means soul.’
A ships bell began to clang a little way down the dock.
‘Oh shoot that’s my boat. A tour with my mum. It was lovely to meet you and to see your beautiful boat. Good luck with your travels.’ Tina began to ferret around in her backpack before quickly producing a business card. ‘I’m a yoga teacher, that is how I know some Indian. Drop me an email if you think I can help you with anything else.’ Then like a mini whirlwind Tina was off running towards the boat and the shortening line of embarking passengers.
Half tongue tied Katie yelled out ‘Thank you Tina, you have made my day.’
Katie was still trying to let what Tina was speaking about settle; it was like a new door had just been flung open. What if that was true? She thought of that word eternal, and she thought of her dad, and she thought of that possibility that maybe it was just like Tina said that the soul doesn’t die, it just changes clothes.
Katie climbed on board, unlocked the cabin and began to stow the last of her provisions. As she did so hope began to fill her heart; now she had a starting point for her inner journey too. Now she was really ready to go. She tucked Tina’s card into a safe spot near her charts and went back up on deck. The wind had picked up, turning the ocean outside the marina into chop and the air was thick with northerly salt air. A year’s preparation and it was time to cast the lines.
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She turned the engine and it came to life with a spew of water and a puff of smoke from the exhaust before settling into its noisy, but trusty chug, chug sound. Just then she saw Mr McDonald making his way down the dock as fast as he could with his elderly banged up legs with artificial hips, waving his arms for her to wait. Once he reached her he was rather out of breath. He handed her a bundle of envelopes tied up with red ribbon.
‘Ya dad wanted me to give you these. He gave them to me a couple of years back and just asked that I give them to ya should anything happen to him.