This was a story (should have been on page 121, paragraph two, of Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber) that didn’t make the cut. My editor wanted me to name the people involved but Les didn’t want to. Les didn’t want anyone to feel bad from this story, so we left the story behind for the blog. See if you can figure out the celebrities involved.



Les says, “We were squeaky clean having gotten rid of all the turtle lotion, shell lamps, Ola the monkey, all of our firearms and all of our weed except the ½ lbs that Judy sealed in a huge wax candle.  We were as clean as we had ever been, and we were looking forward to a hard search from the Coast Guard or Customs which didn’t happen.  We had been to all the wrong places, and don’t think for a minute that big brother’s satellites aren’t watching cause they are!  So Stock Island was a good choice for straight sailors with nothing to hide.

 We were in limbo, sort of, still a little spooked with the run-in in Mexico, with the immigration, so we were relaxing as much as we could.  We had passed the test of if we were hot on our current ID’s or not, so when I called customs from the marina office, and they told us they were busy and wouldn’t come and gave us a clearance number over phone, I breathed a big sigh of relief.

 One Saturday morning a bit of fuss was happening on the pier.  Two Herreshoff’s 28’s were tied up with about 4 couples with a little girl in tow.  The little girl was a happy, bubbling little lady that was about five or six years old and enjoying all the fuss everyone was making around her.  Judy and I just sat in our cockpit and had a front seat to this group that included a couple of Los Angeles movie stars.  I can’t name their names, and the reason will become apparent later in the story.

 Judy bumped me and said, “They are putting that adult life jacket on that little girl!”  What she meant was that putting an adult life jacket on a little person is very bad, and it is probably worse than no life jacket.  If the little one were to go in the drink the adult life jacket would slide over her head cause the straps are way too big, and this would keep her little head under the water with her arms probably pinned straight up.  Anyway it is a no-no, so I dug in our cockpit seat and got out a little-people life jacket and took it over to the woman who was obviously her mom.  I explained the whole jacket-size bit while the others were listening in, and she profoundly thanked me and said they would return it later.  The group went off having a great time with their pair of day sailors.

 The next day our movie stars were again preparing for a day on the water, but this time it was a loud race that was brewing.  Cocktail hour had obviously started some time ago.  A problem developed with movie star Number One whose mate was in such poor shape that number one was looking for a mate to run the race with.  I have to point out that after watching yesterday’s sail this group had more money than experience sailing.  Yesterday was calmer and a bit more laid back, and these boats are very forgiving to sail.  Today would be a bit more challenging.

 Anyway Number One came over to our boat and asked me if I wanted to go for a sail and beat this other bum!  I said sure – any excuse to go sailing.  He said, “Good.  You’re the captain.”  If I remember right the race was around Sand Key light and home again which was about 15 miles each way – A perfect little race.

 These boats were very expensive wooden day sailors copied from Mr. Herreshoff’s personal little boat of the 1900’s era.  Of course they were new copies with little diesel engines to get you in and out of the marina.  The rules of the race seem to change every ten minutes, but we were to motor to the entrance of the marina then on three we would be off.  We had a good breeze, and the wind direction was perfect.  As soon as someone yelled one, two, three we were off.  The owner of my boat said for me to let the motor run a bit longer.  I knew this was a grudge match and there were no rules except for the rule that there were no rules.  We got the jump, and I pointed out perhaps our exhaust might tip our handicap – “Oh shit, shut it off. We can’t get caught cheating.” 

 The tack was a perfect port tack to the light that was southeast of us, so now it was back to the cocktails.  The boat was doing all it could, and so was the loser back about two-three boat lengths.  I think he still had his motor running, and as I pointed this out to number one he swore.  We hit the light with the advantage of being a bit up wind, but when we tacked to reverse course Number One lost his grip on the head sail and we floundered in place for what seemed a half hour before we got under way.  Our rival took a good lead.  Number One was yelling, “They were getting away, fire up the motor!  We have got to catch them cause I will never live this down!” The motor helped, and we started to gain on them which was very obvious since we didn’t have this speed coming the other way.  The radio was silent though.  When we were ahead going the other way Number One was teasing them all the way, and now there was silence.  With this speed I pointed out it’s obvious we were cheating.  “Shit! Can we catch them without the motor?”  We can try – we can sail better than they do although it was a straight shot to the marina.  “We’ll tighten our sheets, hike out and see if that makes enough difference!” 

 Hiking out was hard, especially hiking and drinking.  You have to hang over the rail.  We were making up some distance, but I was afraid the distance was too short.  So the motor, out of pure “win-all” mode came back on.  Now we were moving.  We were catching slowly but still catching.  We saw them looking back, and then the radio comes alive.  “Don’t do it!”  I yelled as number one reaches for the mic.  “They will hear the diesel in the back ground!” I said.  “Oh, shit yeah. Let em’ sweat!”  Now we were off their port quarter and we were going to go right by, but at that point the engine had to stop or they would see the exhaust for sure. 

 Number One’s back was killing him, and he gave up hiking for another cocktail round.  The engine went silent, and we stopped our gain.  We were side by side, and we were sailing. 

 Down below I heard this satisfying “All right!” and here he came with the boats emergency flare pistol.  “One shot into his sails, and we got em!” he said.  “How do you fire this thing?” he asked.  “You don’t.” I say.  “You will have the coast guard or marine patrol on us like white on rice.  That’s for emergencies, and we would probably spend the night in the drunk tank.”  He replied, “Shit, there’s no one out here.”  “There will be if you fire that!  Remember, these are wooden boats, and that nylon sail is going to burn and drop on someone.”

 Before I could determine what Number One was doing he grabbed the mic and called Number Two to tell him he had just dropped something over the side.  It worked like magic.  Number Two turned back into the wind and stopped.  Number One yelled, “All is fair in love and war, sucker!”  We slid past and were at the marina before Number Two could get back into the show.

 Coming into the dock us winners were coming back “Top Dog.”  I started the little guy and headed for the tee pier where we would tie up.  We were putting slowly, and we looked back and Number Two was flying down the channel like he was still racing.  I asked Number One to take the bow line forward so someone would tie us up, but with many valiums chased with vodka and beer Number One missed his footing and stepped over the side.  In he went ten feet from the dock.  I had to throw the little guy in reverse and hope I didn’t run him over.  He tried to climb back on board which was all but impossible, and someone on the dock directed him to a ladder on the dock a long way down the pier. 

 Number Two’s boat glided into its spot at the dock proclaiming he was the winner!  Number One came dripping down the dock looking like a drowned rat – he didn’t have much hair anyway, and by then the little local crowd was laughing and cheering and proclaiming a tie with a run-off in the future.  Then the bar was open!

 The next day Mr. Number One came by to thank us, and he said he had the best sail in a long time.  He wished us well.  We never saw them again, but I continued to watch his movies.  Wondering who it was?  What was the first motorcycle movie that was a great hit? I think he was in it.”

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4 Responses to “Day Sailing with Celebrities”

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  3. Dane Says:

    Thank you much!

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