Latest Book

Here is a short excerpt from the latest book I am writing. It is called “The Red Jewel.”

“We dropped anchor in the spot that Mac identified. Sails were lowered and secured. The engine cut. The anchorage was well protected by the high lush green hills of the coastal Tell. A few houses could be seen ashore just inland from a broad, dark sandy beach. Local fishermen could also be seen tending to their boats and nets. Seas were calm, crystal clear with a muddy pale blue of colour. There was little activity as we were well east of the port and industrial area of Bejaia. It seemed to me from afar to be a vibrant and beautiful Algerian city.

From our sailing directions I learned that Bejaia had the standard historical script for the area. The area was first thought to have been inhabited by the Andalusians. It then became part of Carthage and ultimately Rome – an important port of the Roman empire that supported and facilitated trade between the Mediterranean countries and the Sahara caravans. Over the years it became Byzantine, Muslim, Christian, Spanish, Ottoman and French. It was even the site of a major battle during the African campaign during World War Two. Today the port of Bejaia is the principal port of the western Mediterranean for oil exports although the area is also active with the export of iron, phosphates, wines, dried figs, and plums. An interesting place and one that I will never be able to explore.

The sun set and dusk fell rapidly. Tonight there was no moon. It was as black as Satan’s erse as Mac would say.

“Nigel, go below and stay up in the forward berth. Get some sleep. I’ll keep watch. Don’t come up unless I ask you to”

I did as he said but was confused and a tad frightened. What is going on? I thought.

I fell asleep, restless as I was.

I was awoken sometime early morning. A thud against the hull about mid-ships on Orion’s Belt startled me and caused me to sit up. Adjusting my eyes to the darkness and rubbing the sleep from my being I listened to a thud, thud thumping sound of what must have been a small punt banging against the hull by the motion of the sea and the up and down movement of Orion’s Belt on her anchor chain. I could also hear the muffled sounds of human conversation but it was so low and baffled by the hull that I couldn’t make out what was being said. Just then the familiar Scottish brogue from Mac came into audio range, but in a language I did not understand. It was all so low and muffled. I slowly and quietly got out of my bunk and peered out one of the small ports. All I could make out were the legs of about three men who were standing on the port side of Orion. I could not make out their faces due to the lower aspect of the small port. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness outside I could see that these men were all carrying weapons…shotguns: the weapon of choice in a confined area such as the topsides or the lower and restricted confines of a sailboat’s interior.

“Aye, aye, aye. Yes…oui, oui.”  It was Mac speaking French to these interlopers. But why?

“Dites a Momawd…that I will do as he says but there will be an additional cost. Aye, an additional cost. Comprendre?”

Silence, then “Oui Monsieur” one of the strangers said, and then to his comrades…”Allez, allez…la”…and with that they disembarked into the punt and were off. I went back to my berth and pretended to be asleep. After a few minutes Mac came below and aroused my out of my slumber.

Nigel…Nigel…up lad. We have to go…now.” he shook me and repeated himself. Up and at em laddy. Let’s go…NOW.”

I got out of my bunk. I was still in my day clothes. I stretched and yawned and called out to Mac who was heading aft toward the engine compartment.  Get the anchor Nigel. I will flash up. We’ll leave the sails secure until daylight. I came up, topsides. It was still as black as Satan’s arse outside: warm and still and very humid. I could see the odd light ashore. Not a sound could be heard. I wondered where our company was at the moment but I could not discern anyone in a small vessel. It was too dark and there was no sound of voices.

The stillness and the blackness of the night made me shiver with anxiety, especially at what had just occurred. Mac was not forthcoming as to what was going on. It took me some time to get my night vision. In doing so I made my way forward to the anchor rode. I began the hand over hand motion to raise the anchor and get it out of the water and secured into the anchor locker. The muffled sound of our reciprocating engine came about and morphed into a smooth idle. In a few seconds Mac had the engine into gear and Orion’s Belt began her forward movement from our anchorage. With our sails down and secured we motored out and into the broad expanse of the Med. We continued in a northerly direction until sunrise. We both sat there in silence. I did not dare to raise the subject of what had just occurred as I was thought to be asleep. Mac was not open to me about his strange rendezvous. Who were these people? I thought to myself. And what do they want with Mac?”



Another short excerpt:


That cold December day, or week in Paradise, Clyde, Brian and I were walking down a deserted Kalakaua Avenue turning left on to the Ala Moana Blvd, equally deserted. As we approached the Ilikai hotel we sensed that something was amiss. There, out on the rock cut breakwater of the yacht club, just to the west of the Ilikai Lagoon stood a large number of people, all looking to seaward, oblivious it seemed to us to the strong westerly wind, which was cutting and cold. Their attention was drawn to the inshore waters that were buttressed by the rock interface between sea and shore. We ran out there to see what was happening. To our amazement a large sailboat was bobbing up and down on the broad reef and shallows that were just east of the Ala Moana Yacht Club and Ala Wai marina navigation channel. This was the same water that Clyde, Brian and I often crossed on our surfboards to reach the outer reef breakers that were about one quarter of a mile offshore.

It was an amazing site to behold. The sailboat, christened the “Drummer” lay on its port side, her decks awash with the surf that was rolling in and across her decks. The white breaking, foaming water was in stark contrast to a grey sky and the dull grey colour of the water. Gone were the tropical hues of turquoise and the shades of pastel greens and indigo blues that were indicative of a tropical sun on a shallow tropical sea. It was as if the atmosphere was attuned to the tragedy of “The Drummer” as she lay there on her sides like the forlorn lady that she was.

What on earth happened? Everyone was asking of themselves and of those around them. No one seemed to know the details. Just then I saw Skip and a few others up and away from us jump off of the breakwater into the surf and make their way out to “The Drummer,” no doubt to lend a hand and to offer assistance. Clyde and I looked at each other and without saying a word jumped into the water ourselves, which was about waist deep at that point. We were able to walk out to the boat without too much difficulty. Just as we were approaching her a large wave came in and lifted the “Drummer” up and into the vertical plane, and then bringing her down hard on her opposite, starboard side. The masts came up slowly from the horizontal on the port side, rising like some sentinel of the Hawaiian water goddess Namaka, swaying back and forth in the sky above before falling again toward the sea. As the masts came down a shudder could be felt throughout the entire vessel. This occurred frequently as the larger waves rolled in, caught the “Drummer’s” bow, lifted her high and up and away, cascading water over her decks and under her keel before surging out from under the stern’s transom and then racing to the breakwater ashore. This went on from time to time and was a warning to all of us that this was indeed a very dangerous game we were playing. The crowds seem to sense this as their numbers grew on the breakwater.

In spite of the dangers we managed to get close. Some people emerged from the cabin aboard. It was an eerie sensation to us seeing some of the “Drummers” crew coming up from below decks out of a hatch whose aspect lay on the horizontal. On seeing us they waved us off.

“Thanks man” someone yelled above a cacophony of the sea, the wind and the groaning, moaning creaking sound of the “Drummer.” Like a baby in distress, it was a sound that I would not want to ever hear again.

“We have all the help we need.” A woman said. “Any more would just complicate things. We have everything under control. Thanks.” Skip appeared, saw me, and also waved me off.

“Jim, go ashore, to the clubhouse and see how Harry is doing. He is one of the crew who was injured in this mishap. Let us know. Perhaps you and Clyde could act as messengers for the “Drummer’s” crew here.”

“Will do Skip.” Clyde and I turned back and went to the clubhouse. It took some time to get there. When we arrived we were amazed at the level of activity going on. The lower decks of the clubhouse were set up as a temporary Command Centre to address the problem of the “Drummer.” Staff from the clubhouse had set up some tables with charts and phones spread out upon them. In time I was able to locate the club’s Commodore who was the acting “On Scene Commander” until the Coast Guard showed up, expected shortly. I introduced myself and told him that Clyde and I could be used as messengers as the need arises. I also asked him of the condition of Harry, one of the “Drummer’s” crew who had been injured. He told me that Harry had been taken to the hospital with suspected broken ribs. No other injuries of a serious nature could be ascertained….for now……

……Derek Armstrong, the owner of the “Drummer” gathered his crew together on the lawn of the yacht club.

“We have to go to our assigned berth. Down on Kilo dock. Our time here at the visitors berth is up.”

“Now?” Mary asked incredulously. “It’s blowing a gale out there Derek.” A Kona wind had come up. Kona was a Hawaiian term for a very strong dangerous wind.

We should be fine under power Mary. Harry will secure “Drummer’s” topside and man the foredeck. I want you and George to take the stern. I’ll be driving.”

“I don’t know about this.” Mary continued. “Why can’t we just wait until it calms down some? Tomorrow perhaps. “After all…” she looked at her crewmates for concurrence…”Drummer’s” a big boat and will be difficult to manage in this wind. Her freeboard is extremely high. Her sail area could be a detriment to our ability to safely maneuver her.”

“I don’t see a problem.” Derek said emphatically. Harry and George said nothing. They got up and went across the lawn to Drummer’s slip and boarded her. Mary followed, reluctantly.

In time Harry had secured the “Drummer” for their short jaunt to their new berth on “Kilo” Dock. He then singled up forward and rigged the remaining line for self slipping. Mary and George did the same aft. The forward and after springs were released.

Derek started the diesel engine and the “Drummer” came to life. Without saying a word Derek motioned George to let go astern and for Harry to ease out on the bow line. Once he was confident he had sufficient way on and clear of the slip, he motioned for Harry to let go forward. “Drummer” was underway under power. Once clear of the slips Derek manouvered the “Drummer” toward the turning basin just off of the yacht club’s main channel. Mary, George and Harry remained at their assigned stations holding on, watching.

Out in the main channel the wind was very strong. Derek was having difficulty altering course. As Mary suggested the “Drummer’s” high freeboard sail area was causing problems.

Derek yelled up above the howling wind.

“HARRY, WE HAVE TO GO OUT AND INTO THE NAVIGATION CHANNEL TO COME ABOUT AND RUN BACK INTO “K” DOCK BEFORE THE WIND.” He then paused and looked at Mary and George. Mary said nothing. She just looked about at the situation as it was unfolding. She was noncommittal in her judgement of Derek.


“Drummer” headed out the navigation channel. The wind was howling and whistling through the shrouds and the rigging of not only the Drummer but in the rigging of the other vessels at the marina. As the strength of the Kona wind increased in varying degrees of gusts the whistling sounds of the rigging increased into a very high pitched squeal. It was scary. At the same time the height of the seas in the exposed channel increased dramatically. Harry was caught off-guard and found himself holding on to the standing rigging for his very life. The “Drummer” responded in kind. Like some maritime thrill ride her bow rose and fell chaotically, coming down hard into the oncoming seas and swells then rising again in a steep ascent as the next wave rolled in.  Occasionally Harry was completely immersed into the water, almost invisible with every onslaught of the crashing waves. Derek realized that he had made a grave error in judgement. But it was too late. He had committed Drummer and her crew. He had to continue.

They all saw it. A rogue wave of about eight to ten feet in height was coming down the channel, hard and fast onto them.

“HOLD ON.” Derek yelled. Harry didn’t hear him. The “Drummer’s” bow came up fast. Higher and higher and higher it rose. Then, in a moment, the bow seemed to stop in its tracks and in its relentless rise into the sky. For a few seconds respite…a great pause…as if in a calm. And then, like a roller coaster transversing the summit of the “killer” hill, “Drummer’s” bow turn downward and then crashed with its full force of potential energy in a descending motion into the oncoming wave. For a brief second Harry was completely weightless. His stomach turned over. His life was not in his hands.

Caught off guard by the sheer force of the waves and the wind, Harry’s footing gave way. His balance was compromised. He couldn’t hold on much longer. To make matters worse a second rogue wave rolled down the channel. This one was higher than the first, about twelve feet in height. The same terrifying motion occurred.  Harry was gone in an instant over the port side of the boat. Luckily for Harry Derek saw what had happened.  He immediately came hard over to port so as to clear Harry from a pounding hull and a menacingly dangerous rudder and screw. Seeing what had occurred Mary and George instinctively threw a few lifelines over the port side hoping that Harry would see them and grab one. He did. They were able to pull him over to the Jacob’s ladder and get him back onboard. He was in major pain.

Derek’s hard over to port saved Harry’s life but it stood the “Drummer” into danger. The alteration to port to avoid Harry put the “Drummer’s” aspect at a right angle to the direction of the wind and sea. The high freeboard acted like a sail area taking the “Drummer” on an uncontrolled ride. There was nothing that Derek could do to manage her. The high sea and the swell added to her distress taking her high up and over the rocks and reef that skirted the channel’s port side and onto the shallow area beyond. Drummer’s full keel lodged it self into the sand in about four feet of water. She then fell over onto her port side while the engine coughed and then quit.

Except for Harry’s injuries they were all safe but in shock. Derek called for emergency aid on VHF Ch 11 suspecting Harry suffered some broken ribs. When the situation had settled somewhat George helped Harry ashore by pulling him in a the Drummer’s punt via the breakwater and then to the medical first aid resources at the clubhouse. From there he was taken by an awaiting ambulance to the medical clinic on King Street….

….The coast guard arrived. They quickly assessed the situation and took charge. I made myself known to them and told them I had just been out to the boat. The remaining crew seemed safe and were securing what they could of the Drummer. The coast guard had a surf boat available and before long had set up direct communications with Derek and Mary, Skip and a few others that had offered to help. Other than a diesel fuel tank that had been breached all was well. The hull seemed intact. They spent the night and the next morning clearing the diesel out of the bilges. The Coast Guard provided Derek with some fuel bladders to ensure that no fuel leaked out onto the surf and sand of the immediate area around the “Drummer.”

It would take the next day’s afternoon before the tide was high enough to take “Drummer” out of the shallows. This they did and then towed her to a repair facility at Sand Island in the port of Honolulu. That was it for us. To show their gratitude Derek treated us all to a dinner at one on the local restaurants that evening. The adventure may have been over but I felt good about it…that I had had a small hand in helping out this boat in distress.

Update: It was 1981. I was standing the middle watch (midnight to 0400) in HMCS Saskatchewan, one of the training warships of the Royal Canadian Navy. We were enroute to Hawaii from Esquimalt BC, our home port. We were about half way there. Suddenly the VHF radio, Channel 16, came to life: “Securite, Securite, Securite…be on the lookout for sailing vessel “The Drummer” out of Anchorage, missing, while in transit from Honolulu to Alaska. Be on the lookout….”

I wondered if Derek, Mary, George and Harry were still with her. Had Derek made another fateful decision? I made the sign of the cross, said a short prayer of remembrance, and hope for their safety.

Presumed lost at sea. She was never heard from or seen again.


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Young Sailor…Part 2

Another short excerpt from my latest story. Continuing with Clyde:

Luke gave me and Clyde another beer. ”

“And then what happened?” I asked

“Luke here was willing to come with me to Hawaii. It was not a difficult choice for us to abandon school for a tropical paradise. No choice at all. An easy decision. Off we went and where pray tell after that, or this? Who knows, or cares. We live for the day man. Luke and I are livin the dream, out for adventure…an excellent adventure…right Luke?

Luke smiled but said nothing.

We left Long Beach thirty five days ago.

“What? And you just arrived today?” Even I knew that that was almost twice the time it should take to make the transit across.

Clyde laughed. “We WERE getting low on provisions. Down to hard tack and non perishables. We had a stack of stashed shit from our New Zealand trip that was still stored onboard. We fished too and caught a few. Yeah, it was getting tense but we managed…didn’t we Luke?

“Yeah man.” Luke responded after a slug of beer.

“Yeah.” Clyde continued, looking over at Luke for concurrence. “Navigation was a sore point with us…and money.” We didn’t have a lot of either. I got a large scale chart of the Eastern Pacific…three actually… and the islands, bought a plastic sextant for 50 bucks and learned how to take a noon day latitude shot. We noted the latitude of Oahu from the chart and off we went. Initially we sailed west by southwest by compass until we reached the latitude line of Oahu…around twenty one and a half degrees north latitude. Once there we sailed west straddling the twenty one degree latitude line all the way.” he paused to take another draft of his warm beer.

I shook my head in disbelief. This was comical and foolhardy…but an amazingly interesting account of questionable bravado, as only a seventeen year old could possess

“Then what?” I asked

“Wind was not our friend. We were not making good time. Seas were calm most of the way across. The only indication we would have had that we were getting near was from our VHF radio but that was nothing but static squelch almost all of the time. That made sense as that frequency range was only as good as a line of sight distance from the top of the main mast.

“So we took out our transistor radio. It was one of those long radios that were popular in the mid to late sixties.” Luke brought it out to show me. It was silver in colour with a metal mesh front hiding the speakers and an enlightened display panel showing four frequency bands across the top. On the very top of the radio beside the handle was an antenna that could be raised and lowered and extended in a line up to about 50 degrees from the horizontal.

“Good thing we had batteries otherwise we would still be out there flopping around somewhere.” He shook his head. “Once powered up we would hold that radio with its antenna extended at about a 30 degree angle from the horizontal and then point it across a wide arc of our visible horizon. Sure enough, over time, we picked up a radio station, especially during periods at dawn and dusk. A great deal of interference and a static mumbo jumbo of voices and songs were picked up. We would point the radio across the axis of where the signal strength was coming from. Its intensity would increase as our orientation changed and over time we picked up one of Oahu’s AM stations. We set a course along the axis of the signal, checking it out for confirmation every few days. Sure enough, we picked up the light at Makapuu Point on the southern eastern end of Oahu and knew we had made it. After a few more days we arrived here at the Ala Wai.”

“Wow.” I said “Holy shit man. You guys are some lucky dudes.”

“I know.” Clyde said. “Rudimentary and basic perhaps but it worked…in time.”

Luke nodded his head in agreement but offered nothing to the story.

I checked the time. I had to go. I’ll see you guys later. I am just over at G35. If you need a hand when you get your assigned berth lat me know.

“Will, do.”

“Thanks for the beer Clyde. Thanks Luke. Great to meet you guys. See ya around.” and I left.

And that is the way it was for Clyde and Luke: two young guys out for adventure with not a care in the world: getting by on their wits. Clyde was the leader of the two, a natural, and I could detect why. He was charismatic. People were drawn to him. He possessed a maturity for his years that was evident but hard to define. He was one of those individuals in life that you meet from time to time: one of life’s characters without being so. It was just the way he was. An ingrained character trait: friendly, funny, confident and street smart. Even though he was young in physical years he had much of life’s experiences under his belt. He was anything but risk averse as he was eager and willing to take chances for all of the rewards, graces and gifts that life had to offer. Who, in their right mind would consider sailing a forty five foot ketch from Long Beach to Honolulu on a whim without so much as a second thought? Yes Clyde was one of life’s characters and heaven only knows that the world needs more characters. On top of that he had a very unique and wonderful name.




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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Akaru-Hime: “Lillian”

Some more of the Akaru-Hime story:

I continued my afternoon sailings with Mr Sommers. One Saturday afternoon was of particular note as he told me to meet him at the Noss Shipyard. There at one of the berthing slipways was a beautiful gaff rigged sailing vessel of stripped mahogany about 35 feet in length: “Lillian” she was christened. Of course she was.

“What do you think Nigel?” Mr Sommers said on seeing me.

“Beautiful” was about all I could say.

“Come aboard.” I did…in awe.

Mr Sommers had been working on “Lillian” for some years now.

“Just after the war’s end.” He told me. “My wife Lillian had been killed and my work with the yard and as Dockmaster and Harbourmaster for the Port of Dartmouth was considered essential by our government, thus my exemption from military service. I was too old as well they told me but I didn’t like to think of myself in that way. The activity of the Port, my job and my responsibilities were important to the war effort. Yes, perhaps, but it kept me sane, grief stricken as I was with Lillian’s death. And I had Ruth to take care of.”

“I am sorry sir.” was all I could say for the moment. We went below deck into the main cabin. I followed his lead and took a seat across from him on the port settee. He continued.

“I found this piece of maritime flotsam, as I referred to her, up in the western arm of the Dart, by the Old Mill Boatyard. She was in rough shape, neglected and up on her side on the mud flats in a little bay just to the east of the marine slips on the north side of the arm. Being the Harbourmaster it was my responsibility to ensure that derelicts such as this could not be used by the enemy for nefarious operations against the port. Believe me Nigel there were many spies and Nazi sympathisers in this area, especially given our proximity to the Royal Navy’s presence at Plymouth. Plymouth was strategic and an important target for the German bombers. Nevertheless, I gave whoever may have owned her a chance to recover her. I posted notices up and around the various slipways of the Dart and in the small towns and villages around here and upriver all the way to Totnes. No response.”

“Then what?” I asked, while admiring Lillian’s interior teak.

“I took ownership and had the lead shipwright and naval architect at Noss’ come over and survey her. Turns out she was stable. Her hull was sound. The mast and gaffs were strewn across the mud flats and beach but all of the bits and pieces were still true to form in relatively good order. Her standing rigging was gone however. I felt that with a bit of sweat and a loving touch I could bring her back to life.”

He paused to reflect on something. He looked directly at me.

“On the selfish side of things Nigel I knew that bringing her back to life would provide for me a focus and purpose to continue living without dear, dear Lillian. Sure I had Ruth’s welfare to consider but she wasn’t enough.

“So I had some of Noss’ crew come over and right her, get her floating again and bring her over to the shipyard. There they found a slip for me, and a cradle on the hard which was out of the way of prying eyes. I could use the resources in material and expertise of the yard to draw from in which to restore her. That I did over the years, but on my own time and at my own expense.” He looked forward then aft toward the engine compartment.

“It wasn’t until after the war’s end that I could really focus on her in my spare time, of which I suddenly had lots.”

He looked at me again, grinned, then added. “And that is why those Saturday afternoon sails in “Lilly” were so important to me Nigel. In a selfish way I might add I used you and our time together to placate my own fears and loneliness. It provided a welcome break and respite from my work as Harbourmaster but also a break from my responsibilities in raising Ruth. Furthermore, our afternoon sails reminded me as to why I was so eager in restoring “Lillian.””

“You were not using me Sir.” I responded. “I enjoyed every minute and it got me away from a home life that was becoming unbearable, if only for an afternoon escape.”

Hope you enjoy these snippets.