Swashbuckling!

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“Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late. The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder. I’m an over forty victim of fate, arriving too late, arriving too late…” A Pirate Looks at Forty

Gil and I just finished reading Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini. We started our custom of reading aloud to one another back in 1974. Since we were studying the same lessons at the School of Ministry and spending all our time together it seemed a natural choice and one we have enjoyed ever since. We’ve read all manner of things over the years, but we seem to enjoy rollicking good stories the most. This was most definitely that! I was introduced to Peter Blood by my junior high school French teacher and guidance counselor Janet Roberts. She knew intuitively that my adolescent heart needed a romantic adventure and Sabatini’s classic story set in the seventeenth century Caribbean Sea certainly satisfied. Captain Blood was an honorable man, a surgeon by training, and fell into the disrepute of piracy through an unfortunate series of misadventures. Trying to remain a man of integrity in those circumstances was a real challenge for him, yet he prevailed, even thrived.

So, Johnny Depp wasn’t my first pirate hero. Neither was Errol Flynn who played in the 1935 movie version of “Captain Blood”. Actually, it was Geena Davis in “Cutthroat Island” who became my heroine when I realized that girls could be buccaneers too! Amid her swashbuckling escapades and some seriously questionable personal habits, she too had a code of honor that informed and circumscribed her choices. I like that in a person.

Jimmy Buffet wrote about his longing for a life at sea, free from the constraints of polite society in his song that I quoted above, but I’m not forty, I’m sixty-six and it’s becoming less and less likely I will ever run away to sea. The closest I came to it was the 25 years I spent as the boat minister aboard Woodwind and Woodwind II on Lake Tahoe. Every Saturday during the summer months I got to go sailing on those two beautiful vessels for the modest price of officiating a wedding each time. After my clerical duties were completed I was free to enjoy the wind and spray in my face to my heart’s delight! I never tired of feeling the deck move beneath my feet with the rhythm of the waves, hearing the sails flap wildly then snap to as we came about, knowing that I belonged to the elements in a way I could scarcely fathom. I learned the rolling sailor’s walk so well that I looked odd coming back down the pier after a day’s adventure. There were many nights when I’d go to bed ashore and could still feel the gentle rocking as I fell asleep. 

When my Mom was 17 she ran away and joined the circus. It was one of those things she said with pride her whole life long. Somehow, before I grow up, I’m going to run away to sea! 

“Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard your call! I’ve 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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