When the Wrong Sail is the Right Sail
Call it fate, karma, or kismet. Call it whatever you like, but some encounters, and the sails that turn up with them, are meant to be. From our October 2012 issue.
Suddenly, the grin on Papa Gosh’s face relit with the intensity of the sun. “I thought you said you were a writer,” he said in astonishment.
“Sailor first,” I corrected him.
We didn’t just visit Mílos with Papa Gosh. We lived it; we reveled in it. We were totally swept up within his roving, ever-changing entourage, from restaurant to nightclub to bakery. Somehow, Papa Gosh carried his own invisible spotlight with him. Everywhere he casually strode, he was a star, a conquering hero, the very center of attention.
Oh, sure, he was witty and clever and gracious, and in a dozen languages at the same time. “Forgive me,” he once told me as a solicitous Iranian waiter was tamping our aromatic nargile pipes, Arabic hookahs filled with flavored tobacco. “I have to switch to Farsi for a few moments.”
Yes, he had a yacht in Mílos, an apartment in Athens, a family house here, and some waterfront property to build a taverna there, but he was extremely modest about his “up by his own bootstraps as petroleum engineer” life story.
“Money isn’t the car,” he told me a number of times. “It’s just the keys to car. What’s important in life is this meal, these friends, this loving family—all the rich and joyous laughter surrounding us.”
Most of our time together in Mílos now seems like one long Greek food orgy. Papa Gosh knew each chef on the island personally, and lunch was always a three-hour, four-bottle affair.
Did we want to meet Angelika, the school marm? Vassilys, the miner? George, the resident horticulturist? Maria, the tax collector? Menedemus, the harbormaster?
We were greeted like visiting royalty everywhere we went on Mílos. “Any friend of—what is the amusing American-ism you use?—of the Papa Gosh is friends with us.”
Weeks flew by. We didn’t think or plan or strategize. We just gulped it in. We didn’t learn Hellenic culture, we inhaled it. This was truly Greece, and these were her glorious, history-kissed people. We just allowed it to wash over us like a joyous wave, and we were swept away by the crazy, carefree hedonism of it all.
When Papa Gosh heard we needed a new headsail, he told us he’d bring back one from Athens, just the right size, as he’d once had a 38-foot sloop very similar to Wild Card.
When would he be able to bring it back?
“Ahh,” he said with mock sadness. “I have neither wristwatch nor calendar. I’m like a leaf in the Aegean wind. So, perhaps, my timing is a bit imprecise. But I think I’ll return to Mílos on Tuesday, and I’ll bring the sail with me then.”