Amerigo looks about 20 but this morning I discovered he’s 36. He asked me how old I am, but I side-stepped. My daughter’s older than he. In Uruguay, he’s a mechanic. Cars, trucks and buses. He’s also had a couple of spells working on the crew of race car teams in Europe and proudly showed me pictures of himself at tracks in Monaco, Germany and France. Here, he’s somehow connected to the new owner of the boat we’re taking to Uruguay, under the command of bearded and broken nosed Captain Skip.
Skip’s not too impressed by Amerigo’s mechanical nouse but then again Skip had his own Saab shop in Florida, for twenty five years, and anyone who can keep their sanity with that experience has forgotten more about engines and electronics than any Formula One hotshot mechanic can remember.
Skip speaks no Spanish and Amerigo no English. I have some Spanish but learned entirely by ear, in Antiochia, Colombia – and so rather pure and Castillian. It’s tough to understand Amerigo, though not as tough as it is to make sense of the Mexican Spanish they speak in California.
We’ll get by. Just as long as he doesn’t ask me how old I am again.
My immediate instinct is that these are two good men and that, whatever other excitements we may face, personality clashes will not be among them. On the other hand, I may have to throw a temper tantrum about my bunk. There’s a busted spring strategically designed to cause severe back trauma and early indications are that it’s directly connected to the boat’s emergency self-destruct button …
Roll on the day when we’ll be able to roam the Galaxy in surplus Space Cruiser lifeboats, much as many of the early Earth cruisers explored the oceans in various unlikely sailing craft, including converted lifeboats.
So, now, 500 gallons of fuel later – 300 of it stashed in 50 gallon drums lashed into the cockpit, a neon-lit invitation to any drug intercepting force – we’re boogeying along the northern shore of Trinidad at 11 knots. Yes. Just 200 gallons in the integral tanks. 300 in drums. Ten to twelve gallons an hour at 10-12 knots. None of it makes sense but what do I know – I’m a sailor.
The next port of call is Guyana,
A straight shot from the north eastern tip of Trinidad. 30 some hours of passage in all, with 40 some hours of fuel aboard. We’ll transfer from the cockpit drums to the main tanks underway – but at about 5 in the evening Captain Skip decides that it would be better to anchor and make the first fuel transfer in daylight.
The moment the engines die, the island jungle smell wafts over Happy Daze, fecund and fragrant with tropical flowers – if regularly overwhelmed by the fatal pong of the skipper’s Marlboros.
Why anyone who takes this much pleasure from his life as Skip would want to end it in coughs and splutters is beyond me. Maybe he’s worked on internal combustion engines too long.
Within moments, several more turtles pop their heads up, all more or less the same giant size. Whatever brutal collective unconscious they may share about the murderous tendencies of homo sapiens, they’re curious and peer at these particular humans from beady prehistoric eyes.
Insect song. The music of the surf. Canned soup. Sandwiches. We’re halfway to Paradise. Ditch the canned soup and we’d probably be there …
TO BE CONTINUED ...