Sailing with Star Climber!


Ok so where was I ? Oh yes, beat up and sleeping on the couch that smelled like pooter dog, at the office of McKenzie Oerting.  I was on the second floor of one of the boat warehouses at Coconut Grove marina. I had a beautiful view of Biscayne Bay. There was a certain sound, a mix of howling wind and clanking sails that lulled me to sleep at night, waking to the blinking colored lights of passing ships. I must have a fever. Surprisingly I’m not alone in the cavernous hull of corrugated tin. I just found out there’s another stowaway and she’s cute. She’s sleeping in the adjacent office…

One day looking out at the dry dock a sailboat caught my eye. That wasn’t there before. It was a pale green Tartan 57 up on lifts. Something familiar about it but I couldn’t place it. Then I saw a head pop up from the cabin. I caught a quick glimpse of a scruffy hippie dude. Woah that looked liked…no that couldn’t be? Could it? Holy shit it was! I knew I knew that boat! It was the Aquarius! Star Climber must have sailed it down to Florida! So my buddy Star Climber just happened to end up in the dry dock that was just outside my window. Man it was good to see him. Once he got the Aquarius ship shape, he was sailing to Key West and he asked me to join him. That was the trip of a lifetime. My first ( and last ) ocean going voyage in a sailboat. The one in which I was forever dubbed the Landlubber. It’s all chronicled in my book Landlubber’s Log, which I wrote but can’t find. It’s just as well. One of the few things I wrote that ever came under scrunity of a professional proofreader, when I got back the manuscript it was awash in red scribbled marks. The gist of the story is this…

Sailing down there was a breeze, the wind in our sails over two clear nights. It was all we could do to switch off holding the tiller as we throttled over a sea of glass at maximum velocity. I remember dancing ecstatically on deck illuminated by the full moon. I could see stars I’ve never seen before. When we arrived at our destination we anchored off Christmas Island. We drank a toast with our catch of the day. We sung sea chanteys and drank rum. Life was good. I played guitar and Star Climber played the fiddle. Every night we’d be dingy-ing in at 4 in the morning after playing in all the bars for tips and drinks or waking up onshore if we got lucky with the local womenfolk. A simple carefree life, we never even locked the boat. We left the dingy tied up at the dock and it was always there the next day. There was a code of honor among the pirates and scurvy dogs in the Keys back then. Citzens of the Conch Republic, they seceeded from the union in 1982. I’ve forgotten all the names but never had I met a more colorful bunch of characters. After a week or two, we had endeared ourselves to the local populace and they sent us off in style with a grand fete at Barefoot Bob’s, a hippie hang out on Duvall street.

We sailed away with smiles on our faces on a sunny summer day. But weather changes moods and by midafternoon the sky had turned dark and foreboding. I had never experienced a storm at sea, much less one on a 27 foot boat that soon was tossed like a bobbing cork. I remember violently retching over the side as Star Climber who was a hardy sailor just laughed and dubbed me a landlubber. That night it was to get much worse. Huge swells crashed across our starboard bow. The boom swung erratically from side to side. We jibbed the sails as much as we could. At one point we thought we might capsize. When Star Climber told me to put the harness on my ankle I thought we were goners. That was some scary shit. We made it through the night alright but it put the fear of the mighty ocean in me. When we finally made it back to shore I kissed the ground. It’s a landlubber’s life for me thank you very much. I was back on dry land once again but with nowhere to call home.


One response »

  1. Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important.

    More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant believe youre not more popular because you definitely have the gift.

    Best regards Alex

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