Sunday, June 10, 2018

A Slip Away

Oops! I slipped on a boat and it sailed away. 

I took my passport to the Keys recently when I traveled in my friend's van.

Just in case.

One just never knows. 

So many times in my life I did slip away.

 Duty called it was time to work.

Sail away.

No time for good byes. 

My passport was my ticket.

In those days I was able to happily work 16 hour days, for weeks or months at a time.

I did a lot of freelance contracts. I was popular for filling in short term crew positions.

 It could be a week, a month or many  more miles and smiles.

 My chaotic schedule would fill up erratically My reputation superseded my presence. 

I was contacted by agents, captains, owners, head hunters, word of mouth, and scribbled notes on a bulletin board.  Even a message in a bottle turned up with a note inside for me.

Sometimes I was off one boat and ten minutes later my contract started on the next boat.

Other times, I might have nothing and spend days or weeks relaxing while searching for the next gig.

Sometimes the next boat found me when I least expected it.

Twice,  I stepped aboard to work with only a passport and the clothes I was wearing.

My seabag was somewhere else, and it would catch up with me.

Or not.

One time I came off a boat with a seabag and it vanished into thin air while my back was turned.

I had made a near fatal mistake. My passport was in the seabag!

Several frantic days ensued because I was seriously in big trouble without my passport.

I talked to people at the marina, I put up notices, I made a ton of noise. I spoke to jitney drivers dock workers, taxis, bartenders, and even junkies. I put an ad in the local rag. If anyone unzipped my bag, they would have found my  bulging passport on top with dozens of stamps from exotic ports of call with accordion pages added at some point when the regular pages were filled up.  I notified the answering service and VI Radio which provided me ship to shore communications.  This was before cell phones.

Getting my passport replaced was going to take weeks or more and it's not an easy procedure.

Then over a week later a strange message came to me in a very round about way to call a certain number. They claimed to have my passport and to my astonishment, my seabag. Their nonsensical story didn't add up but I didn't care.  Finally I had my passport back, I could work again. I could sail away.

While I am physically unable to meet the demands now of the jobs I did then, I've optimistically kept my passport renewed and ready.

Just in case.

A slip away.

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