“Fat” was the name monogrammed on his soft-sided briefcase. Snappy pink was the color of the crisp shirt he chose to complement his office attire of gray pants and black knit vest. Shoes: Yes, he wore them. Black. And he had no time for the sandwich we placed before him, for all Cap’n Fatty had come into the CW offices to talk about a few weeks ago were his three loves: his wife, Carolyn; his writing; and his sailing.
Yet there were many side notes to these well-known themes. He talked about the need for cruisers to forget the differences between the $1 million boats and the $3,000 boats they’re aboard and focus on what’s universal in their sailing experience. About the fact that although chartering is a wonderful boon to island economies, it’s quite separate from cruising, and the proponents of it are responsible for ensuring that chartering doesn’t damage the environment. And how FEMA asked him to write a few words about hurricane preparedness after Hurricane Hugo demolished the Virgin Islands in 1989, and he gave them a pamphlet’s worth, which was reprinted after Hurricane Marilyn in 1995.
Fatty says he’s self-disciplined, and we’ve no reason to disagree: He’s made every deadline CW has ever given him, and he’s never, ever missed delivering his weekly radio show, which is taped wherever he is in the world and broadcast over the U.S.V.I.’s Radio One (WVWI-AM 1000).
Between hard-nosed assessments of boat parts and a hilarious description of his “office” in the head of Wild Card, the Goodlanders’ Hughes 38, we were shanghied for hours. Had the obligations for which he’d flown to the United States from New Zealand not interfered, we might still be listening to Cap’n Fatty Goodlander, Cruising World editor at large.
We wondered how Fatty would get to our offices; his daughter, Roma Orion, who’s pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, drove him to Newport, Rhode Island, to make the visit. Here’s a cruising kid who traded life aboard for life ashore. She’s a beautiful and smart young woman, and her dad’s rightly proud of her. Yet no doting father he; he loves to tell the tale of how, when Roma was awarded a full, four-year undergraduate scholarship, it inspired him and Carolyn to set off on a circumnavigation from St. John, U.S.V.I., where they’d lived aboard for some two decades. When Roma asked, “What about an allowance?,” Fatty told her that he and Carolyn would do just fine if she sent them $25 a month.
That and any other joke he cracked made his eyes twinkle, but they were positively set afire when he talked of Carolyn, goddess of family cruising. (See “South Pacific Love Affair” in this issue.) And we know, thanks to Fatty and his propensity for goofy stuff, that Carolyn, his manager, producer, and chief financial officer, suffers lightly the foolishness of the object of her lifelong love. “I am so blessed, so in love, so lucky,” he kept repeating to anyone within earshot.
So on behalf of Carolyn, we couldn’t resist having some fun ourselves with Fatty, and when we learned that our publisher’s corner office was unoccupied for the day, we deemed this troubadour of the high seas CW’s Man in Charge for the Moment. It was yet another identity for the writer sailors know as Cap’n Fatty, and he slipped as easily into it as he did that snappy pink shirt.