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, Papa Gosh was gone, and reality flooded back into our world vision. Mílos was now diminished to just another Greek isle, lovely perhaps, but the larger-than-life magic was gone.
Alas, Papa Gosh didn’t show up for weeks, and we heard bizarre tales of his dancing on this island, kayaking on that island, and storm-sailing with a Saudi prince on yet a third.
Finally, I couldn’t take it any longer, and (horrors!) called him on the mobile phone he occasionally carried. At first, it was obvious he didn’t place me in his memory banks, and, then, even worse, that he’d totally forgotten about the sail. “So you couldn’t find the sail?” I finally blurted out to confirm. He screamed in shocked remembrance and dropped the phone. Moments later, the phone was snatched back up. “I have the sail bag in my hand,” he said proudly. “I will bring it back with me, on Tuesday!” he said.
Another week went by without news.
Jimmy, an old cruising buddy from the Gulf of Aden, sailed in aboard Blue Moon and tossed us a used headsail from a Tartan 31, which would likely be far too small. Still, we eagerly awaited Papa Gosh’s return.
The rumor on the docks now was that Papa Gosh had been called back to Japan—no, Oman, for an oil trade—wait, no, he was sighted in Istanbul, drinking vodka with some Russians.
Each day I’d tour the bustling waterfront in hopes of spotting Gliki. I soon noticed, however, a boatload of scruffy French kids aboard a very basic, very shabby 28-foot sloop, which was sticking out like a sore thumb amid the gleaming yachts.
Wild Card was, at this point, anchored far, far away from town in solitary splendor, and so I grew rather concerned when, a few days later, I discovered the unkempt French kids anchored right alongside us. Worse, they were staring intently at me as I came and went in the dinghy.
I’m not by nature a suspicious person, but I’m not stupid, either. I started double-locking my companionway and carefully setting my burglar alarm. Better safe than sorry.
Then I realized with a jolt that, without Papa Gosh’s influence, I was waiting. But life is to be lived, not merely planned for. So I dropped all expectations, and at the precise moment I did so, I happened to glance over at the four French hippies on the boat next door who were staring so intently at me, obviously discussing me at this very moment.
So I hopped in my dinghy, rowed over the few feet that separated us, and said, “Bonjour! We’d like to invite you all for dinner tonight aboard Wild Card.”
Their English wasn’t good, and they were confused. “All four of us? Is de dinner with, like, the food and such?”
When I gently informed Carolyn a few hours later that we were having guests, she sighed. “Well, since they’re French, we can’t feed them garbage,” she said and headed ashore to shop.
They turned out to be four of the nicest aspiring young sailors we ever had the good fortune to meet. “We came over and anchored the hook beside you,” one explained tentatively, “because we want to put an inner forestay on our boat, and heard that you had done so, and that you were good cruising guy. But then, we know our English no good, so we get shy!”