About Me

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Sacramento, California, United States
so salty pieces of coral from surfing Hawaii in the 60's and 70's getting reef pounded living in my body fall through my skin from time to time!

sailing to Oahu

Jimi Hendrix was playing on Oahu. I had never sailed. Surfed Mexico, California, Hawaii! Aw, how hard could it be to sail 90-110 miles from Kauai to Oahu? Piece of cake, right? Remember it was the 60's! This is so bad. We thought we were looking at Kaiena Point,Ohau, knowing we weren't going to make the concert! But at least we were in site of Oahu-wrong! Coy, who had never sailed before, me,who had never sailed before, jeff and Abbott etc. We were looking at the sleeping giant on Kauai! We had done three-sixty's in the night! We sailed on the only tri-marran I've ever sailed on ( except later ) in my life, missed the concert! It was at the Waikiki Shell Ampitheater ( Moon eclipsed . We finally made Nawilwili Harbor! The Skipper tried to give us his boat saying, " It's trying to kill me"! We watched him go stark raving mad not even realising that had we got caught in the channel current we were on our way to Japan! Remember it was the 60's and we were going to see Hendrix. I left out some of the good stuff but I will make up for it later!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Reefer Returns To San Francisco

       How fickle are the winds of fate to destiny.  Truly God's hand was in this for there can be none other capable of designing so intricately a seemingly random series of events that while each by itself seemed unimportant and of little consequence but when looked at like a strand of evenly matched pearls together forming a beautiful and quite valuable necklace and work of art!       After what could and has broken many a man's spirit, being shanghaiied out of San Francisco.  My claim and gold probably nothing but a wisp of smoke, a story to tell around a campfire or a yarn to spin with a mate in the cold, dark hours of " the dog's watch"!  On " the Reefer ", bound for China with a load of the wealthy San Franciscan's laundry!  God's hands aren't the only thing that is in this but His sense of humor also!      Only now, when each pearl, one by one is placed together can I see the mystery unfold which reveals what I choose to call the invisable workings of Divine Intervention  for purposes that are His through me.  You may think me arrogant or blasphemes, maybe infected by egocentric self-aggrandizement!  When I reveal pearl upon pearl for your hearing then castigate me with your accusation but please reserve your judgement until the facts be made known to you.  I thank you for your patience and assure you I have not embellished any of the particulars and if anything, will diminsh the shine; as in the telling of it,  to even my ears and eyes, is still so remarkable, it hears like a tall story our parents read to us in our youth!                  When I awoke from the opium I was slipped by she that sold me to " The Reefer", it was to a kick to my ribs by Fearsy, the first mate.   His real name is Joesph Israel Jacobson.  He is the strongest man I have ever known and got his name because men see fear when on the outs with him.   Steady as she goes for a pearl.    He is my friend, partner and my brother as I speak.  He took me under his wing and taught me the ways of the sea and the ships that ride her.  Another pearl.  My education  was made manifest to the Captain unintentionally.  Without conscious thought the shape of my sentences and their construction announced quite loudly when involved in the conversations one has while preforming the duties required to maintain a vessel under sail that there was no one aboard, including the captain,  who could hear me in normal conversation and at some point not require a definition of a word or two to gain the understanding of my meaning.   The captain realized I was a bird of different plummage and him being wise in his utelage of men and manpower made known to me his needs in regards to all things having to do with money, cargo manifest, inventories, etc.  In this I learned the business of ship tradeing for profit.  His mathematics was tortuous in his mind.  He taught me the art of celestial navigation and by doing so I believe was happy and freer of mind in that many aboard wondered out loud who this stranger posing as our captain was?     Another pearl was the morale of the ship itself.   We all stood to make a larger purse when we arrived to home port o call, Boston.   I had made some extremely good trades with the captains blessing.   A couple quick runs from Hong Kong to the mainland and back with full cargo both ways while we were waiting for the laundry for the rich of SF.  Opium, tea and spices.  Our ship had become like a well oiled, and lovingly maintained piece of machinery.  It was a tangible, palatable, physical sensation.   Laughter was heard here than there even when under adverse conditions   that in the past had caused men to grumble and curse the day they were born.   Another pearl that I took for granted this passage as I had nothing to compare it to even though I was told by every man jack aboard how fortunate we all were.  Rounding the infamous Cape Horn!  For a week on the Pacific side we were with the sailors friend, several albatrose, always a good omen in sailor lore.  As we approached, got into and rounded the Horn even until it was far behind and way South and West  of us no wind over 30 knots flowed through our sails.  One who had ten times been in the Horn's sometimes deadly embrace swore "The Reefer"  blessed as he had not only never had so peaceful a passage but until he experienced it would not have thought it possible and surly knew all would call him teller of tales if he tried to weave this yarn at his favorite pub, The Duck an Frog.  Even with witnesses and ships log, he swore all wouldn't hear it!   Not one. " Can you imagine", he asked me, "If I mentioned we didn't even drop our topsails, moon and sky,hoist storm and working jibs and reef our aft spanker and squaresails anger they would show me and possibly the door"!   86 ed from me own living room and telling no lie!   The rest of the sail was uneventful.  That and not having to ghost through the equatorial horse lattitudes and doldrums as we raced under full sail including a couple extra flying fisherman jury-rigged for an extra half-knot with a beam wind at 15 to 25 with an occassional bullett of 35.   This is a sad pearl but when looked at through God's lense it makes spiritual sense.  The captain died in his sleep as a result of the mosquito that delievered Malaria into him.  His fever and imaginings of his mind had moved aside a week passed.  The Doc said he was among us again although weak from constantly vacating his stomach of anything solid or liquid.   He was coherent in his speaking and the return of his appetite with an unquenchable thirst proved undeniably that the return of his health was but a matter days.  He was still in such good spirits as I mentioned before that he seemed as if to be a different person than the man I met that long ago dismal day when I found myself a prisoner in an alien world not of my choosing.  He went to the Lord, at peace with himself, a changed man freed from the weight of the world.  He being a man of the sea from birth died where he had lived, doing what he was born to do.  His wife was the sea and he died in her arms enjoying this last passage I witnessed more than ever before.  We gave him to her and Davy that afternoon.  As I watched him slide beneath the seas traveling into the unfathomable mysteries hidden in the depths, imagining an alien landscape welcoming home one of her own. I hoped when my time came I might join the Captain and Davy for the idea of rotting in a coffin never did appeal to me as the pictures my mind projects without prompting from me are the plots that writers like Edgar Allen Poe design while trying to exhort the dark demons dwelling in hidden recesses of a mind continually searching itself.      This pearl is the centerpiece of the necklace but not the last pearl that God has strung.   I am acting captain of the Yankee Clipper, "Reefer".  This means not only am I the pursur, accountant, master trader, navigator and giver of Rum but a bona fide Captain, who as captain gets a huge percentage of the profit from the sale of our cargo.  Without sounding to callous, The Articles of Trade as to protocol in regards to the death at sea of Captain or Master of the Vessel, said party's share goes to his legal heir as is written in said party's will that all concerned have drawn up and re-written before each embarking.  The will is to be held in trust by the president or owner of the shipping company that is paying for the voyage.   In this case Raymond, the Captain, having no living relatives and in fact did not leave a will, by my right as owner of Pendergast and Sons Shipping Co.  After carefully reading the ships log, going over the ships books and after interviewing the ships minor officers have deemed that Acting Captain Robbin Rhodes not only recieve a Captains purse to which he is intitled and did earn in exemplary good stead but also as master trader who by luck or wit has made very happy men out of men who are rarely happy and never smile, my investment partners.   They also take generosity as a sign of weakness and believe it is bad for business.  I have never seen one of them practice this until now!   Mr. Rhodes!  Call me Robbin Sir.  O.K. Robbin then, and you may address me as Percival.   Your purse as master trader is 10%  of  our profit after is tallyed and balanced.   The unanimous vote of all stockholders, another thing that has never happened in the 60 year history of Pendergast shipping has raised your purse to 15% on this and on all future ventures of which you endeaver on our behalf.   You are no longer acting Captain of the Reefer but are now a full captain and master mariner with all the rights and privledges and recognition of said office.   Captains purse has always been 22% but once again the board unanimously voted not just your future purses but the present one also to 25% .  Never in our long and very profitable history has one of our ships returned in better shape than when it sailed several years ago.  Your crew look smart, fit and are quick to perform even the most perfunctal duties.  Not one had anything but praise for your abillities and I know these men.  Some are very hard men with very little joy in them and mutinus behavior is always within arms reach.   You and I Robbin are going to sit down together with a bottle of my finest port and my best cigars and you are going to tell not only all that has transpired since you were shanghaiied  but I'm sure you have some ideas about trade that might place our company in a league of our own.  I swear Robbin, You are like the son no one ever had.  I feel an excitement for the business I thought I would never feel again but this is different.  I feel younger, refreashed and am looking forward to the long overdue changes that every company needs to remain competitive and vital.  I thank you and of course what better for us to show our appreciation than with money.  You do realize that with 40% of the profits you are not only a wealthy new Captain but can also become a board member with stock,  which makes you a partner in our firm.  Mr. Pendergast, Percival thank you from the bottom of my heart.   By the way, Robbin, over port I need to hear how the unreadable, unyeilding, force to be reckened with Mr. Fearsy has somehow attached his unshakeable loyality to you?   I swear you could not find a better man to have your back, sir.  I believe if he would have been on the island of Hawaii when the kanakas got a hold of Captain Cook, Cook would not have died that day!   I agree.  He also would have seen it coming.  He somehow reads and understands human behaviors.  It is uncanny and I think is part of the explanation of his unusual moniker.   Sir you won't need me here while the cargo is being off loaded and sold.  As you are aware of I have not seen nor heard from my wife and family for these three and a half long years.  Whether they received my attempts by letter to make them familiar with my situation and alay their  suspicians that I had become an unwilling recepient of some action of foul play against me I know not!  My wife is a woman to ride the river with but three years and more with no word will not wear well on .even the most  stanch of positive thinkers.  My son is shaving his beard and my daughter is at an age to marry.  I know my wife would wait until there was proof of a mishap before reconfiguring her life to it's new paramenters!  Of that I have no fear but the daily unanswered questions,  the stress, the almost panic rearing it's ugly head, hope never quite extinguished, but the wick getting smaller and less bright as the days turn into years.  I must go immediately to Ohio with your blessing and of course with a healthy draw from my future purses.   I am fortunate a train connects Boston to Columbus as my sea legs had no desire to place a horse between them and instead of a rolling deck gently swaying to the rythum of the swells passing under her hull, bouncing like a childs ball against the paddle it is connected to by a rubber band returning it again and again.          The only item of note on the train to Columbus is how much I enjoyed the motion, sound and panaramic vistas as they were transformed one thing to another by the passing of the land boat I was sailing across a countryside.   When I arrived at Columbus I remembered why and how it had been so easy to leave with a hope to find enough color to send for my loved ones joining me on a small but growing ranch/farm home that I would have homesteaded or purchased from the fruit harvested from my claim.  What a dismal dump of dirt and abject failure permeated the very air I was breathing.  If God's hands weren't still stringing pearls on that necklace I'm describing I just might have had to do something drastic to get my head surrounded by good thoughts instead of Edgar Poe reciting Telltale Heart as if it is my heart beating, buried under the floor.  Part of what is eating me up is that I don't want to just go to our home, come in the front door and say, "Honey, I'm home"!  I need someone to go get her and casually bring her to me and while on the way break it to her slowly that her long lost shanghaiied. sailor, husband has returned to gather in his arms, the love, that had not God worked the clay on the pottors wheel,  he was ever so close from never seeing again!  Uncle Harry and my Aunt Mona are the only people I can ask to do this thing.  The last time I saw them we had words.  They used me and betrayed me.  Then when my wife wondering what might have happened between us to cause such a rife meets with them it gets even more maliscious and even funnier!  The lie they used so they could hide the truth wasn't even damnable enough for a good character assassination.  They all get together and start by showing my wife the lie they concocted and told her it was evidence.  They are right.  It is evidence but not mine and not against me.  The only fingerprints that would have been found on said evidence were Mona's.  The only other accusation of any unacceptable behavior on my part is also a lie.  In California when someone says"Me casa es su casa" and you are their guest the meaning is crystal clear.  Appearently not in Ohio.  They tell my wife another lie and then they all get to sit down and commiserate with each other of the faults and hidden nuances of, in their opinion, my reprobate mind and devious machinations.  After a couple of very enjoyable hours analyzing the non-existant but superficially manufactured pseudo actions they have convinced my wife and themselves that I performed they have successfully avoided anything resembling meaningful dialogue.  Together, with my wife's added new input, they colluded to try and understand a behavior with their experience base.  Even with the negative imput they needed to extract from my wife and then shape to fit the image they were designing of me and then applaud  the results of their inquisition and come to a mutual agreement that the 21/2 hours just spent was meaningful and productive because my wife in siding with them against me proved that all their suspicians were just and neccessary.  So my wife uninvited barges into their home which they expressly informed me she was personna non grata, not welcome.  They tell her lies which she doesn't even question or believe that they could be lies.  Swallows a forgery, hook, line and sinker.  Because there is no doubt in her mind that I am the doer of the dastardly deed, she volunteers her half-truth pent up hostilities and frustrations to what appears to be an innocent, concerned listening family member that is allowing her to vent.  Not realizing that if there was ever going to be a chance of reconciliation I needed her support not her condemnation.  You wouldn't think there is a pearl here would you?  It's a tricky one to see and harder to say because sometimes spiritual insights are a little harder to shape with words.  Beware when all men speak well of you works here.  When I know something is a lie.  Do I care what anyone or anybody else think?  If I know something is the truth!  Can it be not the truth?  So, since truth does exist with or without my blessing it is a good thing when you know something is true or absolutely false.  Here's the pearl.  Because in the charactersation above, I knew/know the truth, I had no need to defend myself.  When you don't have a goat, you got no goat to get!  The behavior of the three people involved in this fiasco is an example of the nature of the mystery and majesty of the workings of a perfectly designed self-correcting Divine mechinism.  God is truth, light, love and much more.  The substance of all aspects of God is also an action.  Darkness, lies, deception, ignorance and rebellion's substance also is an action.  Knowing where the lie was allows me to witness the actions made manifest by the substance of the lie.  Since I know the truth the lie is in the light of truth.  A lie can only lead to futility.  When one grows weary of the substance of futility, one is compelled to ask for and find the truth!  The journey then becomes a quest to find truth which is life which is food for itself.  Stuck in futility is a constant search for knowledge but never to attain.  What a masterful design!     I knew my Aunt and Uncle would do this for me and it was time anyway to see if they were going to broadcast those looks they must have learned on some soap.  You know the tilted head and the practiced, deep probing stare that they are trying to project means I'm reading your innermost thoughts and your best interests are the basis for this highly unusual behavior!  I had taken the liberty of purchasing return trip tickets to Boston on that evenings slot.  My wife was more beautiful and seemed well grounded which very quickly erased the speech I had been working on for several years.  My son looked like he and Fearsy could handle by size alone just about any problems we might run across if the law hadn't arrived at the mother lode in California yet.  My daughter didn't look like me or her mother but was better looking than all of us.  She had the poise and contenance of a young women and I realized I did not get to say good-bye to the little girl that used to love to bounce on her Daddy's Knee.  Harry and Mona had to go see a man about a park he wanted to donate to Columbus.  Said he was going to put a big bronze statue of himself there so that his life would mean something to somebody.  I didn't have the heart to tell him all his friends were dead and that the only thing a statue is good for is a birds favorite target for a poop shoot.  The other thing I didn't want to say is that if he spent all that money on the park and statue his daughters would be so angry that he spent what they thought they were going to inheirent after putting up with his tyranny all these years they would just pull the statue down anyway!  Another pearl that had to be from " The Master Shaper"!  While we were eating lunch I told them we were all going to California as planned.  I mentioned I had booked passage on a sailing ship and explained that it would be way more comfortable than a wagon train and that the railroad wasn't scheduled for completion far longer than we could wait.  All were thrilled at the idea of sailing as none had ever been on a boat and the novelity of a longed for new experience caused them in their excitement to all talk at once.  It was a good time to see if what I hoped could happen would so with no preparation or warning I through it out there and to this day am still amazed at such a uniform unanimous response in but the blinking of an eye.  This very morning my family did not even know if I was dead or alive and here we are together and except for size and maturity it felt like I hadn't been away these long years.  I had asked them for me if they would trust me and get up from this table, catch a rental wagon to the train station and all of us just get on that train for Boston that is leaving in one hour with what we are carrying.  Leave the house and fixings for Mona and Harry to sell out of his pawn shop or donate to one of the churchs they don't attend.  I told them I had enough money for us to buy all we needed for our sailing baggage and that we could get all the important stuff we need when we arrive in San Francisco.  It made perfect sense.  Leave Ohio and everything of it in Ohio.  The Rhodes family is headed to California to become Californians and along the way the trip itself is going to redefine us again and again.  I don't remember seeing anything but my family the entire time between Boston and Columbus and it felt like we were not on the train long enough to be arriving already!  I asked the conductor three times to make sure!  The third time he escorted me off the train and made me read the station sign outloud three times.  I had saved so much of the miraculous happenings of my life to spoon feed my family and myself as remember, I too have not grown into or acclimatised yet to who and what I am becoming.  How does a Captain, Master Mariner dress and act?  Where do I fit into the social scheme of things in Boston's polite society?  Where shall we live?  Percival Pendergast had grabbed the bull by the horns and set us up in a beautiful classic Victorian with a widows watch for a Captains wife to view the Harbor patiently scouting ships anticipating her husbands return from his long voyages.  The house belonged to a business partner who was in Europe with his family combining business with pleasure.  The pearls of this necklace will soon be to the floor.  Percival had set up accounts for us everywhere and though I had been there for such a short time everyone knew us and went out of there way to assuage any discomfiture and were diligent in their attentions making us feel like we were to the manor born.  I had a misconception that there were some blue bloods in Boston that attributed their elevated position and right to exclusive treatment to the simple fact that their bloodline could be traced back directly to a particular passenger who had come over on the Mayflower.  How absurd!  But then I was disappointed as I never came across such a speciman though I sorely put out feelers but to no avail!  My son Luke and I did run across a man who said his father's Uncle's , Aunt's, grandfather had come across on the Santa Maria with the Nina, and the Pinta and for a gold coin give us inside secrets that are only told by members of the family to a few select parties.  He was standing outside A pub called" Hove to", I could not count one tooth in his head and when he turned his head to point his mouth directly at me the strength of the rum I inhalled by a natural breath from him teared my eyes and caused my knees for a brief moment to act on their own accord as if they were not my own.  Fearsy joined us at our favorite place.  It is over the water and part of a dock.  You can watch all manner of things while you enjoy your brew and mates.  It's called The Lonely Albatrose and reminds Fearsy and me of "The Horn Passage"' we can't tell anyone about.  We shared the story with Luke.  He didn't get it but he will because we are leaving in two weeks and he is going to see it with his own eyes.  I got a feeling God isn't going to give us a pearl this time but maybe we'll do a MaGellan and run through Terra Del Fuego.  Yesterday, Mr. Pendergast brought me up to date and took great pains to explain different options to think upon and discuss with my wife.  He doesn't discuss any finanicial scenerios with his wife but he wasn't gone over three years either leaving her to deal with situations that he would have normally handled had he been present.  I am still being treated like a reigning crown prince by all of the stockholders at the Company.  It appears that I personally am responsible for the highest single ship profit to investment ratio capitization rate, once again, in the history of the company.  Without anyone's authorization ( who was there at the time but the Captain-he trusted my judgement)  I traded hides the ship had as cargo from Dana Point, opium from the mainland (a lot), a couple of gold bars we keep in case crew gets in trouble and can only be ransomed.  And a large amount of the finest silk I had ever seen.  What I traded for with a Mandarin on the outs with his soviergn was what looked to me like I would imagine the Crown Jewels of England would look like! 247 pieces of jade carvings ranging in size and motif but all so intricate in detail it was incomprehensible how it was done.  There were five chests filled with precious and semi precious stones some in settings as rings, bracelets, necklaces, tiaras.  The chests were 21/2 by 2by 11/2 filled to overflowing.  He also gave me Teak and sandalwood almost as an afterthought!  I found out by Percival that the Dutch merchants of The Hudson Bay Company not only bought all of the jewels but want again all of that quality that I can find exclusively.  The richness was all in the jewels.  I knew it was a good trade but not this good.  Our entire cargo after expenses profit amounted to $ 475,000.  Almost overnight ( well, a couple years anyway)  I am a wealthy man.  I think this would be a good time to add another pearl, don't you?  40% of $475,000 is $ 190,000.  When I get back to San Francisco, if  the pimp or whore isn't rotting from the inside out from some infectious rot contracted while rutting like a pig in a po I must  thank them for  slipping me the Mickey Finn and selling me.  And then as I give them a reward for a deed so foul I will introduce them to the author and the finisher.  And explain how I did nothing but watch as a series of events unfolded before me.  One and then another until I am here as you see me.  A sea faring man, with ship and crew, a family man with wife and healthy young ones,  One God who loves me and I love and serve Him.  A loyal friend , I have his front and he has my back.  When I am finished with the trade of this my second passage I am taking a short leave.  Don't be surprised if the next time you see Fearsy and I this way the next pearl in the necklace is  my claim restored to me and producing!  AARRHHHH!!!  Matey, I know where I left it!  Don't you know?   

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