March 9, 2003
Allow Me To Introduce Myself
(Guest Appearance By Bill
Boris Badenov, arch-nemesis of Bullwinkle
J. Moose and Rocky the Flying Squirrel, appeared in many disguises
and met them undetected with that line. So allow me to introduce
myself, the villain of the piece: my name is Bill. I have
temporarily taken control of this web site.
In February, 2002, peacefully passed out
in the back of dinghy at Two Harbors on Catalina after a night
of aiding the fortunes of the Pacifico brewery, I was roused
and hoisted to the deck of a Newport 30 on a mooring. I quickly
realized this was not Caribbean Soul, my buddy Dano's 36'
trawler, and I was forced to sing, play the guitar as best
I could in that condition, and drink more beer by Curt, Allie,
Nate, and Michele. Since Dano, Ray, and I had dislocated our
friend Suzi's left shoulder the previous day (I'm the villain,
remember?), this was a momentous trip.
Time passes. A month later, at the Russian
River Wine Road barrel tasting, Curt and Allie told me they
were hatching a plan to cruise the Caribbean for a year or
so. In April, 2002, we met up again at Avalon the weekend
daylight savings time started, and I told them not to take
their dog with them to the islands - it would have been too
hard on the dog. In return, they forced me to sing at a karaoke
bar. I was a guest at a party in the Presidio of San Francisco
about two weeks later, and saw them before their final blast
off. I told them they would need help down there in the islands,
but I would make the sacrifice and come stay with them at
some point, lending expert aid. It took a while, but I made
it in March, 2003.
And what would be expert about me? I have
been a contributing editor at a sailing magazine, and teach
a seminar on cruising Catalina Island here in my adopted home
town of Dana Point, CA, halfway between Los Angeles and San
Diego. I have also sailed New England, the Chesapeake, and
the Great Lakes, and made my first Caribbean pilgrimage in
1984, leading 3 boats through the British Virgins. Given my
current age, I must have been 14 then, and do not know why
the Moorings let me charter a boat in my own name. I've always
looked older than my real age, though.
Along the way, I gathered two Ivy League
engineering degrees, and have worked as an engineer and executive
at not only Fortune 500 companies, but Fortune 5 companies.
I've run a management consulting practice for 15 or 20 years
now, catering to those companies - and some really fun boutique
wineries. A victim of outrageous SAT scores (to this day,
I believe they made a mistake and gave me a couple hundred
points too many), I'm an intellectual snob who loves the symphony
and the opera. But when Jimmy Buffett played clubs that sat
200 or less, I was there to pull him out of the men's room
and help him back on stage a couple times. I don't expect
Jimmy to remember me, or much of anything about those nights.
Perhaps best of all, I'm used to being shot
at, and do not often panic. And I have a bad habit of being
right. About everything.
You can see why I'm the villain.
So, on Sunday March 9, 2003, I climbed into
a single-engine Cessna 208B at San Juan International airport
and made a 20 minute flight to the island of Culebra. The
gorgeous hop across the swimming-pool blue waters ended with
a gliding left bank through a pass between two hills on Culebra
to drop us right on the end of the runway. "Nice flying!
I like that left bank!" I called to the pilot as the
other four passengers and I started to deplane. "Glad
somebody noticed!" he shouted back with a smile.
My duffle bag, brief case of books and maps,
and a half-case of wine wound up in front of the terminal
in a few minutes, and Edward the taxi driver suggested I head
for the town dock to try to find Force Five. I knew they'd
be out in the anchorage somewhere, or tied up at - maybe over
there - the Dinghy Dock Bar and Grill. But I no sooner got
my stuff settled on the dock and focused my compact binoculars
to find the boat when I heard a plaintiff female voice: "Bill!
Billll! BIIILLLLLL!!! Over here! You made it!"
Moments later Curt was at the dock with
his dinghy, and we loaded up. "How long did you wait?"
he smiled me. "Allie's been asking all day how we'd find
you. I told her you were you, and it would all work out fine
- you'd find us."
"I didn't wait. As soon as I put the
stuff down and got out my little binoculars, there you were.
And you're right - I wasn't going to come 2,800 miles to get
lost in this little bay!" I laughed at his comments,
and the 3 or 4 inches of water in his dinghy. "Curt,
you gotta do something about all this water, man!"
Told you I was a snob.
Curt took me to Second Kiss, John and Diana's
Norseman 447, where he and Allie were visiting, worrying about
me. The Norseman is a great boat, and the 447 was designed
by Seattle's legendary wild, bass-playing naval architect,
Robert Perry. Diana handed me a drink in a Cabrillo Beach
Yacht Club glass. John had once been commodore of this club
in San Pedro, Los Angeles Harbor, just 40 miles by water from
my home. I could not have felt more welcome. John announced
at least twice that we should have just one more drink in
my honor to make sure I did, too.
Finally, off to Force Five. I was thrilled
to see Curt and Allie looking so happy, so well, and so tan,
and looked forward to getting to know their boat, a veteran
of over 12,000 miles of crossing the South Atlantic, and still
dry as could be inside (unlike the dinghy). We had dinner
and caught up on the news. A week earlier, Curt and Allie
had seen a New York Times that was then a week old. "We
really have no idea what's going on in the outside world,"
Then, after dinner, John and Diana from
Second Kiss came over, and something very special in the way
of music occurred. I had brought an instrument: my "soft
shake," a gentle Latin shaker that fit easily in with
the books and charts (and half case of wine). Curt got out
his guitar. John offered to play kazoo, and we found a comb.
Tissue paper can be scarce in the tropics, but cruisers become
very resourceful. Allie managed to liberate a wrapper from
a tampon, and fold that over the comb, and John was in perfect
tune with us. We proved that we still knew all the lyrics
to Volcano ("Don't wanna land no San Juan Airport, or
the Yukon Territory!").
Surrounded by friends, and trusting
in a proven super-sailor of a boat, for the next week or so,
I was home.