Perhaps you've seen the Tom Hanks movie, Castaway. If not, it is about a Federal Express executive that is on a flight and the airplane goes down in mid-Pacific with only Tom Hanks surviving. He lives for 4 years on a deserted island with only a volley ball for company. He paints a face on it and names him 'Wilson'.
Fast forward to July 2011 and I invite our friend Vickie over for dinner on our yacht sitting in the Hallberg-Rassy marina in Ellos, Sweden. I was making Thai curry and needed some basil. Sean volunteered to run out and get us some for my recipe. He shows up not with a package of basil but with a plant in a pot. OK, we peel a few leaves off and the curry turns out OK. The plant is hanging around the yacht now for a few weeks and once in a while we water 'him', pick a few leaves off for meals and mumble to 'him' about how nice it is to have him aboard (boy are we getting weird!). Sean and I begin our big passage from Sweden to the Mediterranean. Along the way, we started to care for our basil plant and I decided to name him 'Wilson' in honor of the movie. Seemed funny at the time...
So here we are, four months later in Gran Canaria ready to start the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) and 'Wilson' is hanging in there (looking a little bit peaked though). Suddenly we realize we need to take better care of him and see how long we can keep him an active crew member. Sean and I develop a minor conflict on how much to water him but I think it's good that he has two of us interested in his health. As I write this I'm looking over at 'Wilson' and feel that it really is important that I recognize him as one of our founding crew members. Yikes! Have I spent too much time on the yacht??
He seems happy but we wonder if he needs to be in a larger pot? Does he need a female basil plant to keep him happy? What is his mental state living on our yacht? Is he OK with us picking some leaves off once in a while or should we leave him alone? Did we give him a better life or kidnap him from Sweden? Sometimes I wake up at 2:00 and wonder if we did the right thing in taking him from his homeland (although it does get butt-freezing-cold there in the winter so he should be happy he's heading to warmer climates...).
Once, in big seas, he smashed over to one side of the yacht and broke a few of his stems off. Sean and I felt really bad thinking he might be traumatized by the event but it appears he's OK. He hasn't complained and is still alive so I think it's alright. I wonder if we put him in a larger pot with some better soil and perhaps some fertilizer that he would really take off, grow up to be a big plant one day? If he could handle a winch or throw a line around a cleat it would be really cool but perhaps I'm putting too much on the little guy.
What happens when he 'passes'? Do we give him a proper burial at sea? Do we pick all his leaves off and make a final meal in his honor? Gosh, there's so much to think about...
Your thoughts on how to better take care of him would help us. Drop us a line in the comments if your have a suggestion.