A Young Sailor

Another excerpt from another book I am working on:

One day in November, mid morning, while I was reading the sailing directions of some of the islands and atolls of the south and central pacific I heard a commotion topside. I left the confines of the cabin and rose out and into the cockpit and the bright mid morning sun. There, in the channel just to the east of me and adjacent to Holomoana Blvd, was a large Ketch transiting slowly toward the end of the channel with its turning basin. This was an area used by the yacht club’s boat owners to tie up and load up supplies prior to a sail.

I could not see anyone on deck. They appeared to be out of control. No engine noise could be heard. The large mainsail was reefed to an extent that the main looked like a very small sailcloth. It was the only means of propulsion for the boat, as no other sails were up. Everything appeared to be secure. They must be in danger or need assistance, I thought. Without hesitation, I left Akaru and ran down the dock through the dock’s access gate and across the parking lot as fast as I could. Crossing under the concrete awning and overhang walkway of the Ilikai Hotel I stopped in an area that was situated at the entrance to Kahanamoku Street but on the channel side of the street. I waited with nervous anticipation to provide assistance for this vessel, as I was still a novice with these things.

Suddenly a small man appeared topside. He saw me and waved. He did not seem to be concerned in the least as to his current situation, unlike Skip. To him, everything was under control. The mainsail came down and this young man walked back to the helm, ready to manoeuvre the boast under its potential energy and latency. Another crew appeared, walked up to the foredeck with a mooring line. He saw me and smiled, and waved, giving me a military-like salute. I had never seen these guys or this boat around these parts before.

The boat altered slightly to starboard and then, with a hard turn of the wheel the boat came around to port to present a starboard side aspect to the concrete pier. The bow was pointing north which would provide easy access to the channel when time came to depart. Even though the seaside of the pier was fitted with rubber tires as protective fenders, the boat had its own white fenders fitted to fend off for further protection. The crewman forward threw me the mooring line, which I caught and secured to one of the cleats forward. The helmsman and crew worked the boat in tandem with its momentum and mooring line until such time that the boat was secure, starboard side to.

“Thanks man,” the crew forward said to me. He was very young I thought with long black hair parted in the middle and falling down both sides of his head to his shoulders. It was thin, stringy like with no body to speak of. Perhaps his hair had not seen water or shampoo for many days, even weeks. It had a matte look to it. He was dressed in beige shorts with a dirty white tee. He was well tanned, not tall but medium built. Not an ounce of fat on him…bare feet on the teak decks.

The helmsman threw me a stern line, which I secured. This guy was also very young, but with a shorter mop of hair that appeared thick and wavy with the texture and look of steel wool. It fell back tightly in form from his forehead across the top of his head and crown and then flared out and down over his ears and the nape of his neck. It was of a colour that I could not discern: not blond of any shade nor was it brown. It seemed to be a mix of a light brown colour highlighted with a tinge of sun bleached blond, maybe even grey, and extremely dense in texture, almost like the hair of a Blackman.

Yet he wasn’t black. His complexion was fair. He had a face full of freckles. Indeed his exposed skin held a mass of freckles but it was not sun burned or damaged. He had a weathered but healthy look about him. His eyes were of a bluish grey, dull, but in sharp contrast to his skin tone. Like his mate he was of medium build. No deck shoes.

“Thanks man, appreciate it.”

“No problem.” I answered. “Where ya from? I haven’t seen you around here before.”

“Just arrived this morning.” he said. “We’re from Long Beach. My friend here is Luke Wainright. My name is Clyde Cece (Cease).”

“Hi, I’m Jim. Jim Turnbull. I am Canadian, from Toronto.”

“Great.” he said and then. “You wanna come aboard? Have a warm beer?” He laughed. That is one thing we took plenty of but our coolers and refrigeration gave out a long time ago. Added to that we are not of legal drinking age but who gives a rat’s ass in the middle of the Pacific huh?

I laughed at that.

“Oh yeah? How old are you guys?”


My jaw dropped. I looked at Luke then back at Clyde.

“Holy shit. Really? Where is your Dad?”

“No dad. At least not here. Just Luke and I. It’s a long story. C’mon aboard and make yerself at home and I’ll tell ya all about it.”

I did, and it was…a long story.

It seems that Clyde convinced his dad to let him take the boat to Hawaii.

“My dad taught me all that there is to know in handling a sailboat of this size.” He said. “I sailed across the Pacific to Australia with him and his girlfriend when I was about fourteen years old. That took us two years. It would have been a shorter cruise had it not been for a tragic misadventure on a beach in New Zealand.

“How so?” I asked.

“It had been a stormy and blustery day. Not too rough but uncomfortable. We were about two miles off the beach. My dad decided to heave to: to normalize and reduce the haphazard, lurching movement of the boat in these conditions. Comfortable now so he and his girlfriend decided to go to it in the forward berth but under a haze of booze and weed. They became inebriated and were soon comatose. They left me to my own devices. I was asleep in one of the quarter berths.” Clyde looked at me rationalizing. “There is plenty of room and privacy in a boat of this size so this was not a problem for me or for them.

“Suddenly a few hours later, I awoke to a series of thuds and a long shuddering sensation, almost a vibration, that went trough every beam and joint of “Before the Wind.” The sensation was subtle but intense enough that it bored its way through the hull and into my very being. I got out of my berth and went topside. I could not believe what I was seeing. Trees, dunes, sand and surf. But…but…what? I was confused. I should not be seeing trees or a beach, or sand dunes. But there they were before me.

“A mill of people were on the beach watching things unfold. No doubt they wanted to see the boat breakup. But “Before the Wind” was a strong, full length keeled ketch. This incident was nothing but a bit of annoyance, embarrassing perhaps, for a boat of this size and shape. Having a full keel “Before the Wind” sat almost upright on the beach in the shallow surf supported by a full length iron keel. Luckily there were no rocks or a reef, just a sandy bottom. It was comical to see the sails flapping in the stiff breeze, while the boat remained upright, lodged in the sand. In time my Dad appeared, wrapped in a blanket, none the worse for wear, shook his head in disbelief and then after a few choice words disappeared below deck and back into the forward berth. He kept his girlfriend out of the sight of the onlookers. In a few days time a tug appeared and at high tide was able to pull “Before the Wind” off of the beach and back into deep water.”

“Wow,” was all I could say. Luke remained silent. “And no damage?” I asked

“Nope, good as gold.” Clyde said

He continued his story.

“We stayed in New Zealand for a few months and when my dad was satisfied that “Before the Wind” remained seaworthy, we began the slow trek home arriving in Long Beach about 6 months later. There we remained, tied to home and day sailing or the odd weekend trip to Catalina. My pop had had it with the offshore. But he trusted me and my skill level and ability, so when I asked him about this trip he agreed without any real discussion or hesitation.

He looked at me long and hard and said. “Sure Clyde, why not.” He threw me the keys and the rest as they say is history.”

“Wow, great story.” I said

A Chicago cover group from Russia: Leonid and Friends


And I’m a Man:

Great stuff. Sure beats the crap coming out today. We need another form of the British Invasion.

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Enjoy the day: