Aug. 19th, 2009

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Well, sleep is a fabulous thing. Life is downright bearable. Another short stop at the marina ("Beware the cat!") and we're off to practice more sailing. I don't think I'll ever again look at those glamorous white boats without thinking of the drudgery, the garbage bags and all those wet towels.

Vic came back from sailing with the guys and took me sailing! I got to tack, jibe and tie various bits of rope to various bits of metal. Then untie them again. Fun. Then we had the written portion of the test, I aced it, ho-hum, I'm good with tests. Well, there were a few questions where I sort of guessed, but I got it! I'm good with theory. Tomorrow more practice, that rather scares me.

Everyone else went swimming to the island, and I only had time for a dip. But I think I might actually get this. Now I can finally read all those books on my Kindle, and lay off the textbooks. Yippie. I can't believe it's actually my vacation.

After dinner Vic took to telling stories. He doesn't care about us, we're just a few faces in the endless chain, we aren't particularly rich or famous or eccentric. We're just typical customers. But after a few days together, a few meals and drinks - he warmed up enough to talk. And what a story does he spin! There's no way remember the storylines, but it's Jack London, Joseph Conrad brand of romantic. Or as he himself put it "I'm a practical romantic". If he didn't look so much like Santa I'd have a crush already. I might anyway.
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8/19. Night. Vic W. Hartlen

Vic was telling stories tonight. About his first boat at age 12 and tom sawyer adventures to go with it, and all kinds of other boats he sailed and owned and met in his illustrious career of 50-some years since that first 6' dinghy. It weaves dizzyingly between Halifax, Boston, New York, Florida, Tortola, Spain, Azores, Vancouver and who knows what else. How he manned the helm for 18 hours on a boat with a dead engine in 35' seas, how he ran into two different Tortola exes of his in the same day somewhere in Canada, how he delivered boats for the rich New Yorkers through Bermuda, through storms and equipment failures of all kinds.

Whether or not there is a fictional element in those stories - they are certainly stories in the best meaning of the term. Vic is still friendly with all of his exes. He always goes for the smart independent women so that they eventually wise up and leave him. He sailed a 250' ship from Vancouver to... someplace that had already escaped me. He was nearly a minister, a scout master and member of many committees. He could have probably been an upstanding citizen of some place if he could stay there long enough. Though he has lived in the BVI for 30 years now. Sailing and making deliveries and talking about spending fivve years here and there, with xomeone or other.

Somehow I don't really believe that he really will write and publish it - though he's talking about doing it. He has won awards for photograhy... been a chef... and now he's running sailing classes, private, on boats in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. He doesn't even pretend to try to remember our names, or who is married to whom and which kids are whose. We just aren't important in his scheme of things. We won't make it into his stories, unless we get injured in some particularly amusing way. His stories are worthy of Jack London. Adventures. What an amazing life.


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August 2009

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