A Pirate Looks at Forty


Red. Right. Returning. I stood at the head of the bay last night watching the lights flashing green and red in the channel. Dark and quite; if you count the croaking of frogs and the trickle of water as quite. The grey heron that waded through the shallow water lifted it’s foot and stared silently back at me.

Mother, mother ocean,
I have heard you call,
Wanted to sail upon your waters
since I was three feet tall. You’ve seen it all,
You’ve seen it all.

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Red. Right. Returning. I learned this little mnemonic when I was young. Keep the red lights on your right when you are returning home to port. Green means go. As simple as it sounds, in a heavy fog it’s quite easy to get turned around when you can’t see land. If the green is on your right you are in headed out to sea.

Yes, I am a pirate
Two hundred years too late.
The cannons don’t thunder there’s nothin’ to plunder
I’m an over forty victim of fate; arriving too late
Arriving too late.

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I hear that call, yet I never listen. I always think it’s a poor financial strategy to sell my house and live on a boat. But maybe not. On those days when I wonder, what is wrong with my life? What is missing? That salty, musky wet smell crawls up my nose and reminds me that what is missing is an authentic life. A life you won’t find in a cubicle or a windowless office. And I wonder. Is not heading this call a valid parenting strategy? A valid life strategy?

I have been drunk now for over two weeks,
I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks,
but I’ve got to stop wishin’, got to go fishin’
I’m down to rock bottom again. Just a few friends,
Just a few friends.

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I have wanted to sail since I can remember. And I often wonder if I am robbing my son of an authentic life. Why am I withholding something so valuable as an experience? Fear maybe. Just too busy? It’s my standard excuse. My first memory is of a trip to the beach where, tucked safely in a bunk, I could hear the rattling of the waves on the shore all night. I want my son to be rocked to sleep among creaking boards and calling birds. Maybe it’s time to put green on our right.

Mother mother ocean,
after all these years I’ve found
My occupational hazard being
my occupation’s just not around
I feel like I’ve drowned, gonna head uptown. – Jimmy Buffett

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I guess I’ll need to pack some provisions. Here are some good general rules for boat food. 1) low spoilage rate, 2) self-contained, 3) fits neatly in to your pocket, 4) goes well with beer.

Creamy Avocado & White Bean Wrap

MV6917

  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, (see Note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 4 8- to 10-inch whole-wheat wraps, or tortillas

Whisk vinegar, oil, chipotle chile and salt in a medium bowl. Add cabbage, carrot and cilantro; toss to combine.
Mash beans and avocado in another medium bowl with a potato masher or fork. Stir in cheese and onion.
To assemble the wraps, spread about 1/2 cup of the bean-avocado mixture onto a wrap (or tortilla) and top with about 2/3 cup of the cabbage-carrot slaw. Roll up. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Cut the wraps in half to serve, if desired.

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Jack Sparrow: Not just the Spanish Main, love. The entire ocean. The entire wo’ld. Wherever we want to go, we’ll go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is… what the Black Pearl really is… is freedom.

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