For 35 years Iâve written a Caribbean boating column that chronicles how utterly and pathetically stupid I am. And, despite all logic and commonsense, Iâm not about to stop now. Iâm just getting good at it. Iâm totally focused. No member of the offshore sailing community is as dumb as I. Yes, that is a direct challenge to each and every one of you none-too-bright blue water yachties. Plus, thereâs the longevity thingy. Iâm on my 54th year of being exiled from shoreâha ha! Beat that! And Iâve recently had some sort of mental break-through or break-down or break-dance â¦ whatever!
What Iâm trying to say is thisâIâve brought myself to the next level. Thatâs right; Iâve pulled myself up by my own Topsiders. Simple idiocy isnât enough anymore. Iâm way beyond that! And Iâm mainliningâjust clamping down on the plunger straight into my aorta! Iâve discovered something profound and weird about the nature of my ignoranceâof its unique weight, heft, and size. I know, I knowâIâm not supposed to exaggerate in printâbut I honestly believe Iâve broken through Everyday Reality into Total Cosmic Delusion.
Letâs back up slightly.
Iâm in New Caledonia. Itâs French. My wife likes the wine. Iâm addicted to the almond croissants. Alas, in order to purchase said wine and pastries, you have to go ashore. The people here arenât nice. In fact, they are awful. (Well, I met one guy named Pierre who was okayâbut he was the exception.)
In the past, Iâve often been accused of being a Francophile. I love St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Le Saintes, and Martinique. Iâve raced all over coastal France, on both the Med and Atlantic sides. Iâve cruised its canals. I love French Polynesia. I canât wait to return to Mayotte, off the coast of Africa.
But New Caledonia?
The continentals here are mean, greedy, short-tempered, evil, and dumbâand those are the nice ones! The other continentals are far, far worseâand should be given the option to: (1) commit suicide; and (2) be killed.
Thatâs fair, I think.
Unfortunately, the Kanak tribal people are no better. Picture a very primitive people who are just bright enough to sniff inhalants in sufficient quantities as to be unable to regain the use of their feet to overthrow their (see above) oppressors.
No, I have no desire to work for the local tourist department; yes, Iâm leaving soon.
And yet this place is absolutely perfect for what Iâm using it for.
Perfect is a strong word.
Weâll return to the above shortly.
Every ten days or so, we return to Noumea for provisioning. My wife Carolynâbless her heartâbraves the landlubbers ashore long enough to get our food lockers and freezer bulging. Then we hastily up anchor, go to an utterly pristine empty anchorage, and do it again.
Normally, I write for four hours a day, five days a week, and have done so for almost four decades. But now that workload seems so light and unfocused as to be laughable.
I currently wake at 6am and am writing by 7am. I work until noon when my wife serves me a magnificent gourmet lunch, which takes two hours to eat. We savor. We moan. We lick. We laugh. We burp. We drool. We even chortle.
Thatâs sick! Totally sick. The man who wrote that should have his penis twisted off with a rusty pair of pliers.
There are main courses and palate cleaners and sweet & savory dishes …Â fruits â¦ pastries â¦ enough food to kill a horse.
Or, at the very least, to put a horse to sleep.
I am not a horse.
I spring up and have that look in my eye.
My wife shrieks and makes a dash for it. Alas, she trips. (Weâll close the curtain here.)
Afterwards, I nap and awake refreshed at 3pm.
I write for another two hours, making for a total of seven hours a day at my keyboard, seven days a week, 30+ days a month.
Now, when I say write I donât mean think. A lot of writers make that mistakeâto assume you need content. Thatâs silly. Content is totally overrated. Take the publication youâre holding in your hand. Itâs worth what you paid for it, isnât it? There! We agree.
So, no, I donât worry about content. I think in terms of words-per-day. Iâm averaging about 5,000 of those little word-thingies every day, and have been for months.
Every word is funny. I write naked. Every few minutes I re-read what Iâve just written, bend over in laughter, run on deck waving my 13-inch Mac Air, and scream at the top of my lungs; âThatâs sick! Totally sick. The man who wrote that should have his penis twisted off with a rusty pair of pliers.â
I kid you not. Itâs good. Iâve sent whole chapters of it out to various other writers and they all agree. HST says, âI think I checked out just in time.â Ha! High praise indeed from an early hero who used to know something about highâback before he started to play with the wrong end of his weapons.
A relative of Joshua Slocum encouraged me with, âIâm not sure which my great great great grandfather would be more ashamed offâbeing a sailor or being an American.â
I sent an advance copy, still in the galleys, to the executive council of the SSCAâand the next day they announced they were disbanding. Ouch!
Letâs put it another way: a number of sailing attorneys who do pro bono work for the ACLU have requested the book be banned. (Thank God for eBooks, as one conservative logging group has already refused to supply the paper for the dead-tree edition.)
Do I think it will sell? Well, duh, it has sex in it. And I donât mean vanilla sex either. Iâm talking about sex scenes that would make the Marquis de Sade blush.
My wife isnât quite as enthusiastic as I am. âWell,â she said, trying not to allow my ego to be too over-inflated, âThere is something to hate on every page!â
The VI Boating Industry group is reported to have issued its first âfatwaâ via its tight-lipped announcement of â50K for his head atop a boathook!â
Now, the only trick is to keep it a secret. I used to write for Gallery magazine under the name Condor Van Harding, and am considering dusting him off. Or just using Ben Dover or Seymour Butts.
Oh, this has been such fun. I love literature, and literature loves me back. I can barely wait to start collecting my royalties. Of course, the real money will be from selling the movie rightsâand optioning the remainder of the series. (Oh, yes, my pen ainât empty yet.) Needless to say, Iâll retain full artistic rightsâeven hire and fire! The main problem will be who plays me. Nicholas Cage canât act weird enough. Edward Norton doesnât have the range. Robert De Niroâs too old.
Licensing is something Iâll want to get some legal advice on in case Beneteau or Bavaria wants to issue a special offshore cruising design which features a âCapân Fatty whoopee roomâ or something. (Thereâs a well-equipped whoopee room on a well-known 390ft mega-yacht and Iâve always been a bit envious.)
But licensing at this level is tricky. I donât want to license, say, a group of feminists to use my face on the bottom of ashtrays in such a clumsy manner as to prevent me from taking money from deep-pocketed misogynists as well.
See how difficult being a successful inkslinger is? Did William Shakespeare have to put up with feces like this? (No, which is a vote for using a pen name, right?)
The best part is, of course, the world is my oyster. I can do what I do anywhere. But for doing something like thisâlocking yourself aboard and spewing 200,000 of the worst words everâ New Caledonia is the perfect spot.
Or, to put it another way, I have no desire to go ashore and Iâm sure shore feels the same about me.