The first Thanksgiving, seven years later

Seven years ago, my daughters and I enjoyed our first Thanksgiving in our new home. Through the day, the kids listened to WETA’s “Classical Countdown” of listeners’ top 90 favorite symphonies. As the numbers went down, they became animated, waiting to hear if their choices made the top picks. Number 8 was a Gershwin composition, “Rhapsody in Blue.” Oh, the anguish! “GERSHWIN?!” they shouted. “I can’t believe they picked Gershwin! He doesn’t write symphonies! He has all those annoying xylophones! His music is awful!”

Laurel was in a foul mood when the fourth place symphony came on, and her demeanor changed instantly when she realized it was one of her picks, Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8.

While I had a glorious bike ride in the early afternoon, Caitlin tried her hand at her first pie crust, with no guidance. It came out pretty well, and she filled it with prepared mincemeat–our “let’s try it” dish to accompany our traditional lasagna, salad, and French bread.

We had dinner at the table given to us by my Dem buddy and fellow Merry Mischief Maker Jane and her husband Paul; sitting in chairs my former neighbors let me pluck from their trash; using plates given to us by kind Dem acquaintances Pat and Bob; using lovely, brand new flatware given to us by a fellow homeschooler and once divorced mom, Kathy; and lifted toasts of sparkling cider in the celebration cup I had commissioned from an Arlington potter several years ago. As we went around the table to say what we are thankful for, Caitlin blew me away when she raised her glass to me, thanking me for “buying this house, where we can feel what we need to feel, be what we need to be, and do what we want.” I laughed and cried concurrently.

After dinner, the three of us went into the living room to watch a movie–our first on the “new” TV. The VHS movie, “Major League,” was a gift from Dick, my supervisor at work; the TV from my longtime good friend, Jill; and the VCR from another homeschool friend, Rachel. We sat on sofas given to us by Pat and Bob, the girls propped their feet on the coffee table given to us by my good friend Barb, and we had light from the lamp contributed by my good friend, Rhonda, who, the kids often say is “The Same!” as me.

My girls thought the movie was pretty bad, with virtually no plot. I must have thought so, too, as I fell asleep part way through. But, still, we had a fine time, cozy, comfortable, and thankful in the home that so many helped us make, the one I had named My Palace of Peace.

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“Kick Ass Woman”

I recently found this old blog entry from seven years ago, when I was a newly-single mother, new home owner, and working a temp-to-hire admin position at a “beltway bandit” government contractor. That office was an awfully oppressive environment, in which the boss would spend hours berating his staff, and public shaming was one of his key operating procedures. Thankfully, I found a better position in less than six months, because this episode illustrates that, had I been there longer, things might have gone very badly.
Yesterday’s HR lunch seminar was about personal safety and home security, hosted by a guy who wanted to scare the employees into buying his pepper spray and other “safety” products. Early in the session the presenter asked questions about particular behaviors and told us why they were unsafe. One of the questions was, “Does anyone here take the stairs when coming to work in the morning?” I was the only person who raised a hand.

“Stairwells are dangerous!,” the presenter admonished. “Doors that are built to stop fire will also stop your screams if you are attacked,” he warned. “You need some of my pepper spray!” My response did not please him.

“I understand that pepper spray can be taken away and used against the victim,” I replied. Clearly annoyed by my response, the salesman tried to intimidate me with his next question, which came across almost as accusatory.

“Do you have a plan for what you would do in case you are attacked in the stairwell?” My instant reply rang with confidence.

“Yes!,” I answered, “I’ll kick his ASS!”

The room erupted into laughter, the speaker said, “THAT’S the attitude!” and held up his hand for a high-five. He continued to address me during the talk, often asking questions like, “What is your most immediate protective equipment?” and I answered nearly all with ease, so much so that he ended up telling me to refrain from answering later in the session, and began calling me “Toughie.”

Back in the admin area after lunch, the boss had assembled some of his staff in chairs in a semi-circle in front of my desk. Seated before me were two of the three engineers, the other administrative assistant, a guy from the lab, and a guy from IT. Our boss proceeded to explain that I had said the word “ass” in the corporate board room, and it was A Very Bad Thing. In front of everyone, our boss made a veiled threat when he implied that, because of this behavior, my direct hire papers may not go through. When he went on to harangue the lab guy about the lab’s invoice system, he brought up my behavior again, asking, “what happens when they don’t pay their invoice? Do you send Shay after them?” This was my first sample of the boss’ attempt to humiliate me into compliance. But he doesn’t know that “ugly don’t scare me.”

When talking about it later with one of the engineers–who had been there 13 years–the engineer said that “It won’t go away, and I don’t think it’s such an awful thing to be branded as ‘Kick Ass Woman.'” I suppose I can live with it.


PS- The next day, one of the engineers gave me a certificate he had made up, using “Batman Forever” font and purple and black letters. “Shay Seaborne, Kick Ass Woman” it stated in large type, and in tiny letters beneath, “I’ll kick his ass!” To date, is my most valuable certificate of achievement.

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No title? No problem!


The ABC’s of Personal Happiness, as typed up by my friend’s late mother.

In my previous period of unemployment, which was a hell that lasted 14 months, I was struck by how much my identity was tied to my job/title/function. I found that “what do you do?” defined me almost entirely, to the point that it was nearly the same as “who are you and what are you made of?”

Now I am a little older and much wiser, I am also happy to just be and be who I am, rather than playing a particular role for someone else, especially one that is unsuitable.

Dovetailing with that has been the realization that my paid work has kept me from doing my true work, and has actually undermined me, as a person. I have noticed that the more I relax into being myself and stop trying to prove my worth by struggling to get by in this Engineered Austerity Economy, the more I make a difference to myself and to others.

Therefore, I am looking at largely leaving the money-based economy, and operating out of one that does not erode my self and undermine my best work, which is my calling.

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A new kind of October

Paper birch along the Occoquan RiverI love the light and colors of October. Today I rode my bike slowly, savoring the amazing colors and textures. This almost made me like fall better than spring. Amazingly, somehow, this October has not brought me sorrow. In the past two decades, my Octobers have been shadowed by the loss of two dear friends, who were victims of suicides that were nine years apart. I still dearly remember and greatly miss Alex and Eileen–and sometimes I cry a little–but it seems I have finally integrated my loss of them into a life lived more boldly than they were able.

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Resisting the deadness and coming alive

TimesheetRecently, I remembered a day in 2005, in which I was standing on a busy corner during morning rush, participating in “Morning Viz” with a local political campaign–“Morning Viz” being short for “morning visibility,” a gathering of volunteers with signs, in an effort to increase voter awareness.

The commuters rolled past, most of them grim and glazed, oblivious to the beauty of the day, resigned to their crappy commutes to their crappy jobs. One of the young volunteers noticed those resigned faces and said, “I don’t ever want to end up like one of them.”

That scenario stuck with me, and when I rejoined the paid workforce a couple of years later, I actively worked to fight becoming grim and glazed, intentionally finding ways to stay awake and alive during my commute, and, in the past few years, also fighting the deadening forces of an unsuitable job in a toxic environment.

At last, I was recently able to walk away from that job, even without other employment lined up, and move into a better lifestyle, one in which I am not bound to those who seem to only understand their own needs and not others’, or who are unwilling to work together for mutual benefit.

As the weeks of freedom from such bondage begin to stretch out behind me, each day I feel lighter, happier, more alive, and more excited about my future and wherever it may lead. Good-bye to the old way, hello to the new!

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The key to happiness

Seven years ago this weeKey to Happinessk, I moved into My Palace of Peace, with the help of many people, including my dear friend, Eileen. She also rallied her four children to assist, and even the littlest one was helpful and hard working. At the end of the haul-in, Eileen drove her crew to a local restaurant and picked up pizzas for my two children and me to eat for dinner, as if help with moving was not kindness enough.

Eileen and I met through the homeschool support group that I ran. We had been friends for a few years and visited many times, mostly at her house, which was roomier, so more comfortable for the six children we had between us. While the kids were engaged in various activities, often creating artwork, we would talk about homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and many personal topics. We were close enough that my friend had entrusted me with a key to her house, attaching a small tag upon which she had written, “The key to happiness lies within good friends.”

Eileen called me during the week after she and her children had helped me move and left a voice mail offering more assistance the following weekend. Before long, I learned that she had spent part of that day calling all of her favorite people, leaving a message on each one’s answering machine. Her words were upbeat, warm, loving, and promised getting together soon. Shortly after she finished making those calls, my dear friend took her own life.

While Eileen’s friends clearly brought her a lot of happiness, that was not near enough to override the pain she had carried most of her life. She had shared details of unresolved childhood- and later trauma, which continued to weigh heavy in her life. My poor, dear friend had felt there was only one way to make the pain stop. Unfortunately, it also left great swaths of pain in its wake, as family and friends reeled and came together to remember this beautiful and kind person, and try to make sense of what had happened.

These years later, I continue to remember Eileen, her bright, bubbly spirit, and her way of making good things happen by infecting others with her enthusiasm. I still miss her very much. Sometimes, I cry a little, and on occasion, I have a brief flash of survivor guilt, because I am happy now.

Eileen’s note from her house key is on the cork board in my kitchen, a bittersweet reminder of the woman I knew, whose generous heart could not bear the burden it also carried. There can be no replacement for Eileen, but I have gained and held onto many friends since her passing. These are diverse people that I love for a variety of reasons, and all of them make me smile. I am not sure what really is the key to happiness, but good friends certainly can play a major part.

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The 5,000 mile tattoo

My Swallow TattooTwo months have passed since this gorgeous piece of original artwork was permanently affixed to my shoulder in commemoration of logging 5,000 sailing miles–a mark that took seven years to make.

I feel extremely lucky to have been led to artist Paul Loh, at the 407 Tatto Studio. Paul combined the two pictures I gave him with what I described and his own talent, experience, and intuition to create a design far more beautiful than I imagined. It is as if Paul knew what I wanted, even more than I did. 

Also important is the environment that Paul has designed and cultivated. This was my first tattoo studio experience, so I felt a little apprehension, but that evaporated the moment I walked in the door. Paul made me feel very comfortable and it immediately became apparent that this was the right place.

Though I had joked about going traditional and getting drunk before the tattoo session, that is not my way, and I decided that, if it was really painful, I would just think about the sailing and sea stories behind this milestone. There was, of course, The Bridge Incident, as well as many happier sailing hours with Sea Scout Ship 7916 and with theSea Nannersof Ship 100, helping to bring the SV Benjamin Chase down for her very special christening ceremony, being captain of that boat for her and her scouts’ first race, various other races and cruises, participating in the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race aboard a 125′ schooner and going on to sail Cape Hatteras with the same vessel, cruising the Exumas, transiting from Nassau to Charleston, two cruises when I was theSailing Angelfor a vet who is battling leukemia, numerous lessons taught at Woodbridge Sailing School, a bit of single-handing, rocking the Cherry Blossom Regatta, a wicked sail on the Chesapeake Bay,  cutting whitecaps on the Potomac River, and much more. The pain was never unbearable, but I ended up telling a few sea stories during the process, to pass the time and to mark the occasion while Paul quietly worked on his permanent addition to my skin. 

The experience and result were so positive that I look forward to obtaining my second tattoo, which will likely be the twin to this one, on the opposite shoulder, to commemorate my 10,000 mile mark. Or, perhaps, a turtle to mark my sailing across the equator. We shall see!



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“What if we hit the bridge?”

Der PeLiKaN's original mast, bent in two directions, starboard spreader snapped, immediately after the incident.

Der PeLiKaN’s original mast, immediately after the incident: bent in two directions, starboard spreader snapped, roller furler disabled. -Photo by Caitlin Keller

Five years ago today, an accident occurred that etched itself indelibly in my mind and changed my life for the following 16 months.

On August 7, 2009, at approximately 9:50 AM, the regional Sea Scout Training Vessel (SSTV) der PeLiKan, collided with the Kent Narrows Drawbridge. This was in the middle of my scouts’ second annual Long Cruise, during which we were to spend seven days aboard the 47′ Morgan ketch, sailing the Chesapeake Bay.

As we approached the bridge, our other adult leaders were on deck, so I had popped down below to fetch my purse, because I planned to take our scouts for ice cream after we docked on the other side of the bridge. I was in the aft cabin when, suddenly, there was a horrible sound of impact as the bow lifted. I dropped the purse and grabbed my PFD when came another noise and the bow crashed down, throwing the stern upward. My mind was flooded with a terrifying image of the boat coming apart, dropping my scouts into the water, the strong tide going out, motor boats all over, and I thanked goodness we are so strict about wearing PFDs!

As I swung up the companionway ladder, I was unnerved to see that the bridge footing was the only thing visible from the galley portlight. Once on deck, I made a quick assessment of the situation, noting that all scouts were safe and accounted for, the boat was not going to sink, but she had sustained some crippling damage. We needed to pull over to the dock immediately on the other side of the bridge. Once tied up there, one of our adults pulled together a work crew of scouts, as well as a nearby ex-Marine who said he had grown up sailing.

Half of my scouts were highly upset by the incident. One was “so mad I could punch a baby!” Another kept asking, “CanIcallmymomandtellherwhathappend CanIcallmymomandtellherwhathappend?” A third was kneeling on the cockpit deck and banging his head on the bench seat. The scout who had been at the wheel was standing on the dock, still as a statue. The other four scouts were already working as a repair team under direction of the commodore. I directed the first upset scout to breathe and calm down, told the second one to give me his cell phone, and turned my attention to the scout in the cockpit, who was still banging his head.

Kneeling on the deck next to him, I put my head down on the bench seat and began to rub his back as I asked him what was going on. He had come aboard for the second half of the cruise, and was in despair over what happened and afraid that it had ruined everything. I had come to understood that the teen was a person who likes everything predictable and laid out–and, to him, this event had been like a bomb going off. I asked the scout to focus on the facts that we had right then: the boat was damaged, we did not yet know the full extent of the damage, we did not yet know what was going to happen, we did know that nobody was injured, and we could be thankful for the latter. I told him that, by focusing on Horrible Things That MIGHT Happen, he was engaging in something called “catastrophizing,” which was neither productive or healthy. Then I suggested that he might do better to focus on doing something helpful, such as making sandwiches for the repair crew, but he declined. Since he had a better grip on himself, I turned toward the scout who had been at the wheel when the accident occurred.

The teen was still standing alone on the dock, as if frozen in place. Seeing the expression on his face, I could tell that he was feeling shock, disbelief, and horror, among other things. Setting aside scouting protocol and putting on a “mom” hat, I simply asked, “Do you need a hug?” The scout threw his arms around me, almost collapsing into me as he wailed, “YES!” and began to cry in great sobs. I let him release it for a couple of minutes, because pent up emotion is unhealthy.

When his crying let up a little, I began to rub his back and talk to him in a soothing tone, telling him that it was an accident, that boats can be fixed, that nobody was hurt, and that was a great thing. I reminded him that we are a Sea Scout ship, a unit, that we were all in this together, and that, somehow, everything would work out alright in the end. The scout stopped crying, stood taller, wiped his eyes, and seemed to feel better, so I turned toward the boat again.

There, saw that the scout, who had been banging his head, was now curled in the fetal position. He needed some more help dealing with his feelings. I reboarded the boat and put my hand on the teen’s shoulder as I spoke his name. He stayed in position, but he answered. I asked the scout if he had been thinking about the things I had said, and whether he was ready to focus his energy on something positive, on doing something to help with the situation. He said he would like to make sandwiches for his shipmates.

Eric went up in the Boatswain's chair to affix one end of the temporary forestay to the top of the mast.

Eric went up in the Boatswain’s chair to affix one end of the temporary forestay to the top of the mast.

While I had been conducting the emotional triage, our repair team had been busy  securing the damaged shroud, and sending a scout up in the boatswain’s chair to cut down the broken spreader. They were preparing to send another scout up in the chair, to jury rig a temporary roller furler stay to the top of the mast. To reinforce the value of the traumatized scout’s decision to focus on things he could do instead of things beyond his control, I noted that it was nearly lunchtime and that his fellow scouts had been working hard, and were likely to be very hungry. His contribution would support his shipmates, and that was supporting the ship.

Since this scout had either not made production line food before, or was still too shaken up to handle it on his own, I took him down to the galley and showed him how to sanitize his hands, wash lettuce, slice tomatoes and take orders for sandwiches. Before long, the crew was finished with the temporary fixes to the boat, and all were heartily eating their sandwiches.

With everything and everyone settled down, I felt it was time to alert the parents and adult leaders of our unit.  I wanted them to hear from me first, before they received any texts from the scouts that might raise undue worry. Also, to let them know they should be on standby for possible changes and need for assistance. Using the number pad on my flip phone, I typed out a somewhat cryptic but descriptive message at 12:22 PM: “Crew calmd and fed aftr losn stbd spreadr against kent narows bridge”Nobody hurt in any way, but it shook us up. Efctd temp repair and headn 2 repair yard in annaplis. All othr plans in air 4 now.”

Somewhere in that mix of events, the mood was lightened when a scout brought up reference to one of his fellows, who would often ask silly the same questions, like, “what if we left somebody ashore?” My response to these had always been a silly answer, like, “we’ll make you swim back to get them.” The scout of silly questions was not on this cruise, but his shipmate thought of him, and his face brightened as he noted, “Now we can tell Adam what happens when we hit the bridge!” Everybody laughed and  made jokes about what we would tell him.

The flotilla commodores had been in contact by phone, and they determined that the best plan was not to return to Baltimore, but to motor to the repair yard in Annapolis, so that is what we did. There, the scouts unbent the mainsail, the commodore aboard giving the scouts lessons in proper folding technique as they flaked it on the dock. Meanwhile, I coordinated with parents and worked out an entirely new transportation plan for coming home a day early and from a different location. The accident had become a turning point for my scouts, who acted more like a team than they had before. Much of that team spirit remained through the following day, with better participation and cooperation, scouts making group decisions about changing plans to deal with our new situation, and with their remarkably thorough clean-up of the boat, executed with a positive attitude that made me proud.

In the following days, the commodore filed a report with the state, and we both attended a special flotilla meeting about the status of the training vessel. A survey showed irreparable damage to the main mast–which was bent in two directions–and to the roller furler, roller furler stay, and the steaming- masthead- and roller furler cables. There I also learned that there was no hull (collision) insurance on the boat, only liability.

This massive amount of damage was not covered, and it was going to cost over $20,000 to repair. The flotilla review of the matter absolved our ship of liability. However, the incident took place while my Sea Scout ship was using the boat, and therefore, despite the actions of others that factored into the accident, I understood that I was ultimately responsible. SSTV der PeLiKan is the centerpiece of the Chesapeake Flotilla, relied upon as the vessel for hands-on training for hundreds of scouts, from the region and even from across the country. The only one proper course of action was to raise the funds needed to put the boat back into commission as quickly as possible, and to that I personally committed.

Everyone in our ship wanted to know the details of the accident, so, I announced- and prepared for a special meeting of our ship. My intention was to provide that information while and to direct energy away from placing blame and toward fixing the boat. There, I initiated the fund raising effort by putting down $100 of my own money. Other parents and adult leaders also donated–a few quite generously–and the first few thousand dollars were in the kitty.

In order to make this a serious operation, I obtained permission from the commodore to start and operate the “Save der PeLiKan” campaign, buying a domain name, setting up the website, and creating a PayPal account for the non-profit that holds title on the boat. Our ship held some car wash fund raisers, some of the other ships and adults in the region made donations, and so did some of my Facebook friends, including several whom I had not met in person.

Basically, I hit up everyone I knew or met, appealing to them for a donation of any size. Also, I also garnered publication of a few of my appeal articles in the newspaper during this 16-month fundraising odyssey. Fortunately, through a friend of mine, a private philanthropic foundation had received word of the need and made a remarkably generous donation of the last $8,000 of necessary funds. In all, the effort brought in a total of $23,129.73, covering the purchase of replacements for the damaged main mast along with wiring and navigation lights, installation and tuning of the mast, standing rigging and roller furler–with enough left over to pay for new standing rigging on the mizzen and a new Windex, as well as re-cutting the Genoa.

Due to the dedicated efforts of Commodore Steve Nichols and Skipper Ken Kessler, who worked hard and long to wire the new mast and help with installation, the vessel was recommissioned the following spring, in time for the May 21st Commodore’s Circle Cruise, which was offered to top donors. With a crew composed of smiling and proud scouts, SSTV der PeLiKan and her guests departed from Fells Point, Baltimore, toured the Inner Harbor under motor power, and then out to the Key Bridge and back.

SSTV der PeLiKan's new mast goes through the Kent Narrows Bridge.

SSTV der PeLiKan’s new mast goes through the Kent Narrows Bridge.

The following weekend, the commodore and I were on the boat again with scouts from each of our Sea Scout ships, as we sailed her to St. Michael’s, MD, so our units could assist with the 23rd Annual Antique and Classic Boat Show.

Unfortunately, the cruise included going through the Kent Narrows Bridge again, after anchoring in the narrows overnight, and that gave me a skipper’s nightmare. Soon after the accident, one of the other Sea Scout leaders in the flotilla ribbed me gently by saying, “You know that you’ll never live this down, don’t you?” Others spoke words that were not at all kind, and therefore unworthy of repeating here.

Yes, I knew that The Bridge Incident would not die  easily. However, I was not prepared for the longevity, and eventually even my good nature was affected by the continuing remarks about the “one-masted ketch,” and so on, despite my having done the right thing and raising more than enough money to cover the repairs. But, at least when we tied up at St. Michaels for the boat show, some of the more kindly spirits came up der PeLiKan and admired her new rig, one of them turning to me and noting, “that’s a nice looking mast there, Skipper Seaborne.”

Recently, a Sea Scout leader in the region said that he uses The Bridge Incident as a “teaching yarn,” and that, in his ship, “‘der PeLiKan’ is a verb now, as in, “Stay under the center span – we don’t want to der pelikan the boat.’” To which I replied, in order to put things into perspective, “Yes, because, if you ‘der pelikan the boat,’ then somebody is going to have to ‘seaborne’ it.”

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De nada

Riding my bike down a wooded path through the park, I slowed nearly to a stop when I saw a toddler and his family ahead. The boy was in the path, hopping around and being silly. His chubby cheeks were pink, and cupid’s bow lips smeared with blackberry juice. The toddler’s mother, father, and older sister were picking the berries along the edge of the woods, while the the little guy’s intention seemed to be to joyfully obtain as much attention as possible. He was as cute as a little Teddy bear, and just as huggable.

As I was admiring the toddler and flashing approving smiles at his father, the boy’s sister came up to me, hair in dark pigtails trailing, and in her hands a small plastic bowl bearing a few plump and shiny berries. The girl looked to be about four-years-old. She tipped the bowl toward me, to show me her treasure, saying something to me in Spanish. Though I did not understand her words, I understood what she meant, and I admired her berries with enthusiastic words and a smile as her father stood by and grinned.

In response to my admiration, the little girl plucked a berry from her bowl and held it out, offering it to me. I had no idea where those tiny hands had been, but I recognized the value of her gift, gladly accepted it with a “Thank you!” and put it in my mouth right away. The tangy sweet flavor burst across my tongue as I began to chew, and I smiled at my benefactor in gratitude, exclaiming “Delicious!” I thanked the girl again as she moved to the side of the trail. “De nada,” she replied, walking back to the brambles to begin picking again.

I looked at her father, who was beaming. By then I had realized that the family spoke Spanish, and little- if any English. “De nada,” I said, nodding at him and smiling approvingly. He smiled back with obvious pride and love for his family. “Adios!” I said, and the father, daughter, and son chimed back, “Adios!”

Pedaling on my way, I smiled for a long time after that encounter, reliving it in my mind. I thought what a treat is must be for the family to harvest enjoy the wild berries, and how adorable those children are. “De nada,” the tiny girl had said, “you’re welcome,” she meant, but the phrase literally means “it was nothing.” And yet, her gesture, to share one of her precious finds with a total stranger, meant everything.

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“So, therrrre I wuzzzzz…” a story about sea stories

P1060962 - Copy

The schooner PRIDE OF BALTIMORE II, as seen from the deck of LIBERTY CLIPPER, Baltimore Harbor, October 2010.


The story begins almost four years ago, while I was enjoying my first 1,000 miles of sailing aboard the beautiful schooner LIBERTY CLIPPER. A young deckhand aboard, named Alex, told me that all good sea stories must begin with a very salty and gruff opening: “So, therrrre I wuzzzzz…” And thus began Alex’s tale about walking the streets in NYC while on leave the night before, and meeting a pretty girl who invited him to watch a fight in a bizarre underground setting.

Since then, I have found Alex’s yarn spinner an effective beginning to my own tales of adventure and danger, telling stories of a rogue wave, a mast bent in two directions at once, the bad timing of infernal outboards, boarding a schooner by jumping from dock to shrouds and swinging from the rigging to the deck below, various accounts of bloody encounters, and beating a crew of scurvy rats.

In addition, I have gladly shared the story starter with many a sailing student, friend, and Sea Scout, including those of Sea Scout Ship 100. During a recent phone conversation with Ship 100′s skipper, Todd Skiles, he shared his own story about sea stories.

Todd began by relaying that an adult leader from another unit had said they love to hear about the inevitable Sea Scout “moments” when they come from Ship 100, because the ship relates these as great stories. Todd said he informed the person that the reason is that I had been the unit’s sailing coach for two years, and also taught him and the scouts the proper way to tell a sea story. “Put your left elbow on your left knee, lean forward, squint your right eye, and start with, “So therrrre I wuzzzzz…”

The skipper went on to tell me that one of his young “Midshipman” scouts had been in trouble at home, and the boy’s father, aiming to hold the 10-year-old accountable, told the son, “Why don’t you tell your skipper the story of how you got in trouble?” With no hesitation, the boy put his left elbow on his left knee, leaned forward, squinted his right eye, and began with, “So therrrre I wuzzzzz…”

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