After discovering that the two captains who were sailing our ship into the harbor at Avalon on Catalina Island were both incapacitated and face down on the table, I popped back up above deck with great alarm. Ike was still staring off at the other ship ahead of us, which was much closer now and in my tenderfoot opinion was threatening to be too close very soon. I called to him a few times, trying to control the mounting fear that was permeating through my vocal cords, but he either couldn't hear me or was more likely ignoring me.
I walked around the right side of the cabin, along the narrow walkway of the deck leading to the front of the boat where Ike was sitting. I could pretend at this point that I had deftly acquired all the starboard and port terminology in the first thirty minutes of this story but that would be a lie. Thus, I'll continue with front, right and whatever land loving layman term pops up in my non-sailor vocabulary.
He was sitting motionless with his back to me but let loose another, "Call me Ishmael," which was completely tone deaf to the residual fear evident in my voice.
"For fuck's sake - Ismael, our beloved captains appear passed out below deck!"
I now have Ishmael, or Ikemael at this point, at full attention. He turned with a nonplussed look on his face, his brow scrunching slightly in pensive consideration.
"I guess you would be Starbuck."
This wasn't at all what I was expecting or really hoping he would say but it effectively threw me off my immediate course. Due to an obsession with the recently revamped Battlestar Galactica, I had completely forgotten that Starbuck was originally one of Melville's seamen, a mate on the ship that was hunting Moby Dick. Upon hearing the name, I immediately thought of the ridiculously hot Katee Sackhoff from the Battlestar show and wondered why Ikemael was now mixing his stories. It took a moment of consideration for me to connect the dots and stop thinking of Katee before I remembered the Moby Dick connection. Actually, I kept thinking of Katee but managed to think of other things as well.
Another side note, gender studies indicate that women are likely better at multi-tasking than are their testosterone fueled counterparts. My own anecdotal evidence seems to suggest this is true, except for one area - sex. Men can be thinking about sex while doing any number of things. We might be running a country, ala Berlusconi or Clinton, we could be an artist like Currin or we can be average Joes, dangerously close to being lost at sea and slightly worried about our survival yet still titillated by the thought of Katee Sackhoff. I'm not saying women don't also think about sex while going about their business of running countries, creating art or being average Janes. I'm merely saying that those of us with penises are doing it all the time. That might be the reason we struggle with multi-tasking - we're already doing it all the time.
But I digress...Ikemael had just called me Starbuck.
I can only answer him in the half-hearted voice of a confused and panicked man, "Uh, yeah - maybe I'm Starbuck but I'm pretty much at the end of what I remember from the book. However, we have larger problems."
"Yeah, I heard you. The rodent boys are sleeping?"
"Sleeping, passed out - maybe dead. I didn't stop to check since I figured it was more important to find someone to share my panic first."
Ikemael smiled at me, "Well, Starbuck, looks like you and me might be sailing this here ship to Catalina."
"We don't know how to sail."
"No, Starbuck, you don't know how to sail."
With that, he walked past me back toward the cabin and disappeared below. I followed a few seconds behind. When I went below I found that the hamster was awake, just stoned out of his goddamn mind. Pinky still appeared asleep but was breathing. I had no idea what the two had loaded themselves up with, but judging by the cornucopia of vials, bags and jars scattered about - it was a smorgasbord of narcotics.
Ikemael was propping Hamster up and gave him a solid slap across the face.
"All we have to do, young Starbuck, is get our cheese eating friend here lucid enough to give us the vaguest of directions. I used to sail some back home and so I think we'll have just enough to get us into port safely."
We were now effectively at sea. The marina had mostly disappeared behind us and Catalina, in my landlubber eyes, loomed in the distance like the island in King Kong. The smooth sailing now took on an ominous whisper of foreboding and the clouds that were being pushed by the same wind that had filled our sails were gathering around us in dark cumulonastiness.
While Ikemael was filling a glass of water to throw into the hamster's foggy face, I slipped on the black Patagonia fleece that had seen me through adventures from the Badlands of the Dakotas to across the world in Turkey. I'd stared down mountain lions and muggers in this jacket and felt it must bring a touch of luck.
After a couple of glasses of water to the face, the hamster was able to slur out instructions and confirm our questions. Turned out, Ishmael was more of a sailor than he originally let on. With an occasional fact check against the hamster he was able to keep us on course and avoid the large barges. I saw that the boat with the woman in white had put up some kind of yellow flag with a happy face on it. Ikemael continued to keep an eye on the other vessel and even revised our course once to stay near it. Ikemael was nothing if not singular in focus at any given moment. Yet another example of male multi-tasking while focused on sex.
we would have to anchor off the island near the old casino. That sent a brief look of concern flashing across Ikemael's face and a prolonged stare to the other ship. Then he looked back to me.
"Anchoring is harder than it looks but we should manage. We will probably lose the ship with the She-devil though."
It struck me that he was more concerned for the girl than the anchoring part of that equation but that was Ikemael's way. Pinky was now sound asleep below and the hamster was staring vacantly into space and smiling at me from behind the mists within his mind.
We approached the casino and circled around some other boats already anchored. We found a suitable clearing and dropped our anchor. We repeated this unsuccessfully several times. Each time the anchor was not secure and we would begin to drift. Ikemael was growing frustrated and decided we needed to move to a better spot that might make anchoring a little easier. We motored slowly into a more crowded area with a flotilla of white boats. We were spaced about 30 yards from another ship near us when Ikemael noticed first their yellow happy face flag and then the woman in white.
Ikemael dropped the anchor without looking down, his eyes wrapped around his white whale. From their boat we could hear music starting to play. One of the other female passengers began to pole dance around the mast of their boat. She was dipping and grinding and slapping her ass while the woman in white watched and laughed. Then, Ikemael's white whale began to strip down, revealing a little polka dot bikini. She joined her friend and the two put on a show right there in the middle of the water.
With a brilliant stroke of luck, we found ourselves securely anchored and within shouting distance of the boat next to us that had females dancing like strippers at sea on the deck. The clouds had cleared and the sun was blazing down in full flesh welcoming glory. The girls next door obliged. The hamster gawked at the dancers for a while before looking back at me and saying the first thing of the day we didn't have to beat out of him.
He was right. It was sweet. I went down below to crack open my first Tecate of the day. When I returned topside, I found Ikemael lowering our dinghy into the water. He looked up at me with a grin, "How do you feel about boarding their ship?"
I knew our adventure was just beginning.
Originally posted at www.igetpanic.com