TALES FROM THE CARIBBEAN

Dave stowed his hammock and blanket below deck and started getting the Dream Weaver ready to sail. Normally he used his sails both on and off the mooring, but with an inexperienced crewman under foot, he decided it would be more prudent to motor from the anchorage. There was no room for beginner’s errors.

He checked the oil and fuel levels, made certain the transmission was not engaged, and started the diesel. While it was warming up, he went about getting the halyards and sheet lines in proper order, and removed the mainsail’s cover and most of the ties around the mainsail. Dream Weaver’s headsail had roller reefing and furling, and he made those lines ready too.

Inexperienced crew had a way of grabbing the wrong line at the wrong time; that’s how accidents usually occurred around anchorages. The monk was gaining his sea legs but he didn’t yet know one line from the other, and if he grabbed the wrong line at the wrong time it could cause a problem, or a collision.

“What can I do to help?” asked the monk, all eager and totally oblivious to his own amateur status.

“Sit down here in the cockpit and stay out of my way!” exclaimed Dave with some irritation. But then he decided to be kinder to the monk, who did in fact want to help with the work. “Once we’re safely out of the mooring area, you can run the helm while I raise the main and unfurl the headsail.”

Dream Weaver soon cleared the anchorage and Dave put her bow directly into the wind, and instructed the monk to take the helm and hold that heading. The monk was proud that Dave allowed him to steer the boat, but before he could pat himself on the back, he got yelled at.

“Watch the wind, you’re supposed to be heading into the wind while I raise the sails!”

“But how can I tell which way the wind is blowing?” asked the monk.

“Watch the wind-lines and bubbles on the water, motor right into them and stop wandering around like a drunken landlubber.”

Dave hoisted up the main and rolled out the headsail and motioned for the monk with his right hand to fall off the wind while he trimmed and cleated sheet lines. The sails filled with wind and the Weaver heeled hard over. The monk’s eyes bugged out, the color left his face, and he started praying like sixty mothers, scared to death that they were about to tip all the way over.

“We’re going over!” he shouted to Dave.

“Just hold her steady as she goes while I finish trimming the sails,” Dave yelled back at him.

“God help us, we’re going over,” cried the monk in dismay.

“Brace yourself and man up,” laughed Dave, “She’s got a bone in her teeth. Just put your right foot on the cockpit seat and brace the other on the cockpit floor, and turn the ignition off.”

There was a sudden stillness when the motor clunked to a stop; the engine noise was replaced by the exhilarating sounds of a pulsating bow wake, creaking tackle and taut lines. Brother Lamb the monk nevertheless continued to hold a death grip on the ship’s wheel.

“Relax and loosen your grip on that wheel,” said Dave. “It takes a light touch to sail a straight course.”

Then Dave started yelling again, “You’re messing up my trim. Watch the red telltales on the sails, and keep them parallel to the boom. If one side starts drooping it’s starved for air and you have to fall off the wind a bit — but be careful not too fall off too far or we’ll take a knock down if we enter the eye of the wind. So steady as she goes, mate.”

“We’re headed for the other side of Lovango,” Dave explained, “We’ll anchor there and take the dinghy ashore.”

“How come we’re not going to the same place we were the other day?” asked the monk. “I want to see how Rooster Barrack and the Amsterdam girls have been getting along.”

Fool, whom are you trying to deceive, Dave thought to himself. “What you want to see is the nude Amsterdam girls sunning themselves again. But we’re headed for the other side of the island to look for something.”

“Like what?” asked Brother Lamb.

“Like never you mind what,” said Dave. “Big Jessie always said, three people can keep a secret only if two of them are dead.”

“Come on Dave, you can trust me, I’ve heard more confessions than I can count and I never so much as breathed one word of any of them,” said Brother Lamb.

Dave changed the subject, saying, “Give me the helm, while you go below and get the cedar bucket and empty it.”

“Won’t that pollute the water,” asked the monk?

“Not at all,” said Dave, “It’s only a problem if you accumulate fifty gallons of crap in a holding tank and then add it to hundreds of other gallons collected from other boats; then it becomes a problem. Toss that turd over the side and rest assured that before it hits the bottom it will be totally devoured and recycled by a variety of sea creatures. They will bless you for giving them such a delicious meal. As Pop always points out, our poop isn’t much different than fish poop that gets recycled without polluting the water; nothing goes to waste in nature. Bone-headed politician-lawyers and do-gooders are the problem, they pass laws to police us but then take big bucks from corporations to allow them to dump tons of untreated sludge into the ocean.”

“And,” Dave added, “don’t forget to wash the bucket!” To be continued.

John Stark

The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012.

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John Stark

The author of the "Tales from the Caribbean" fictional column. He attended school at Waynedale Elementary, Maplewood, Elmhurst HS in the Waynedale area. John had 25 years of professional writing experience when he passed away in 2012. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer