….It wasn’t long before I was out of that place. Appendicitis will do that to someone. Yet I almost died from that infection. I was laid up in the hospital for over a week. Lots of time to think about my future under the cloudy haziness of morphine. Weird but oh so wonderful dreams. Suddenly I could relate to my hippy brethren and their Last Chance Saloon.
Then out of the blue my sister from the wet coast called me. Seems that her husband had bought a 35 foot sailboat with the intent or dream of sailing it to Japan, his homeland. Indeed he had already made plans and departed with a Brit companion, who was a professional sailor. Together with George, his girlfriend, frigate birds and flying fish Sid made it to Hawaii in 19 days. Unfortunately this trip was a wake-up call to reality for Sid in that his dreams of maritime lore, Pacific blue and Japanese pride came crashing down on him drowning him like an emotional tsunami on his psyche, his self confidence and his personal well being.
Sid realized that he did not like open ocean sailing. He was seasick most of the time during the crossing from the west coast to Hawaii. He missed his wife as well as their first newborn child. Consequently he decided to pack it all in in Hawaii but still wanted George, the Brit, to sail the boat to Nagoya Japan, a Pacific port town that was close to Sid’s birthplace. George needed some help to achieve this as his girlfriend had split. Thus the phone call to me.
Sail to Japan? You bet. I quit my job, said goodbye to family and friends off I went to Honolulu. The Ala Wei Harbour and Ala Moana Yacht club near Waikiki would be my home for the next 6 months, then off into the wide Pacific expanse to Japan via Micronesia: the Marshall, Caroline, Gilbert and Marianas island archipelago was beckoning.
That excellent adventure is the subject of another story. Suffice to say we only made it as far as Saipan in the Marianas as the boat was taking on water as its seams were opening up under the strain of pounding seas and surf. There was no way on earth that we could sail her from Saipan to Japan as it was a “beat” all of the way up to Nagoya. Sadly I said goodbye to George, who would end up sailing the boat south from Saipan to Guam to sell her to some American sailor. I flew to Tokyo where I proceeded to my sister’s place in a section of Yokohama called Totsuka. That was the end of this journey. Ever try speaking or learning Japanese? No wonder “hara-kiri or seppuku” was so popular. I returned home to my shit city of a city by plane about a month later.
I really enjoyed that experience and found that I was drawn to the maritime life. By hook or by Captain Crook I had to find a way to continue on this path. Without a hesitant breath I began surveying the quays, the berths, and the jetties of the waterfront area of my home town within a nano second of arriving home. I read the local maritime shipping newspapers to see if I could some how worm my way into this profession. No luck. A longshoreman perhaps, or a deckhand, a boatswain, maybe a third mate, whatever, anything at all to belong to the maritime brotherhood. No luck. The maritime employment doors in this city at least were slammed shut on me like some battened down hatch on a ship in a storm. The union was as tight as a dolphin’s ass and was, in the vernacular, a closed shop. Unless someone died of nepotism, not likely, my chances for employment in this profession were about as slim and as ornery as a sailor’s fart upwind…