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Day 241

By Brian Hancock

A couple more stories while we wait for the explorers on Explorer to taste their first sip of golden nectar. This story is one of high ambition and bravery. That plus a bit of stupidity added plus that aforementioned golden nectar.

It was the night before the start of the first leg of the ‘81 race out of Southamphton and the bu**shit was showing up strong and steady, aided amply by that golden nectar. Sometime around midnight the owner mentioned that we should probably get some sleep. (There had already been a food fight.). There were no female sailors in the race back then or at least on our boat and we were an unruly lot and that’s putting it mildly. The men decided that they were all quitting smoking and ditched their Luckies in the bin. Brave men I thought at the time. Brave and maybe just a little stupid.

The first week went off ok. There were a few unnecessary tiffs but we had already hit the trades. That was when things started to get bad. Those Luckies were now just a wistful memory. Skip, our erstwhile skipper (all 25 years of him) knew a storm when a storm was brewing. On the horizon ahead there was a fairly large freighter stacked high with containers. Skip patched a VHF call through and miracles of miracles the captain replied in English and he dropped a dozen or so cartons of Luckies and some Camels in the water. We were on an intersecting course and, well, 15 minutes later we had the haul on board, matches and all.

Life was good until the last butt dropped sizzling and protesting in our wake. It was just our sad little crew back living in a smoke-free zone. If I am correct I think that the weather was unsettled and the crew distracted until we got closer to the equator. The weather was hotter than bulls balls wrapped in black kitchen bags. I did see what I thought was the outline of another ship coming our way and as luck would have it the container ship out of Monrovia they took pity on us. A half hour later we had three ice cold cases of beer on the aft deck and a note that read, “Good Luck from the Captain and Crew of World Navigator”. Skip was practically being considered a genius, a messiah even; that was until be asked for rum/raisin ice cream. End of the line. We should have settled on strawberry or at least vanilla.

One thing about life at sea is that life on land tastes all that sweeter once you finally get there. We drank plenty of beer in Cape Town and had more than enough rum/raisin ice cream and even a few of the blokes managed to quit smoking, for good. Sailing is sometimes more than just a social experiment. It’s an overall construct for the good of men (and women).

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