Montana Wolf

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sailor Du Jour

I turned off my lights last night, ready to crawl into bed but not before I glanced out my window. I was checking the ocean about a half-mile up shore, looking for the light in watery darkness that marked a sign of life. A catamaran had sailed into the bay and anchored the day before spring. I'd been walking up the playa on my morning jaunt. The full moon was quickly disappearing into daylight as a man in cut-off sweat pants beached a little white dingy. Beautiful boat, I said, pointing to the mother ship. Thanks, he answered. His bushy blond eyebrows arched high over small brown eyes. He was sweet, almost shy. And strong. He asked where he might find a haircut, groceries and a hardware store. I directed him down the beach and told him if he had any problems to stop by my trailer, about halfway to the pier. He came ambling down the beach later that day in jeans and sneakers. Took off his straw hat and smiled,  I found a haircut! We stood at the seawall and talked for a bit. Found out his name was Stacy. He asked about where to find internet and I said he was welcome to come back and use mine the next day.

It was the weekend of revolutionary Benito Juarez's birthday. A three day mob scene on the beach of Bahia de Kino. The playa filled with families and college students. All good. All fun. And danged if Stacy didn't make his way up the beach the next morn. This time he dragged that dingy up in front of my trailer. He didn't want espresso and cream. He drank Nescafe, he said. I suppose he didn't want to get used to the good stuff. He had sailed up from  San Carlos and was on a practice run before he headed down to Panama. He was a one-man show. He not only captained the boat solo, but he'd never been married at age 58. Neither had two of his siblings out of a total of five. He called himself Stephen (Esteban) in Mexico, where the locals didn't get 'Stacy' as a man's name. I mentioned I was heading to the grocery store to get a few things and yes, he said, he'd love to ride along. Good thing, because shelves were empty due to holiday crowds. We drove around until we found a store that didn't look like it'd been hit by a hurricane preparedness frenzy.

Stacy insisted on taking me out to dinner for my generosity. He headed back to his boat at sundown, rowing into the setting sun, gulls and pelicans fore and aft. He came back the next day, Skyped his mother and walked into town with his Trader Joe's shopping bag. When he returned I offered to take him out to the estuary a few miles out of town. One of my favorite places for seabirds. We grabbed a bucket, stopped downtown and filled it with cold beer. I shoveled in the crushed ice, compliments of the beer store, as he held the bottles upright. Then we went looking for a bottle opener. Found one in a stall selling junk on the corner that looked like something from a 50's carnival. A ceramic onion with an opener on top.It was either that or a replica of a Corona beer bottle. The onion thing was hilarious.

The tide was high; the beach was peppered with families, fishermen and kite fliers. We walked along shore, laughing, talking, sharing stories of our travels throughout the world -  my perspective from the interior of countries; his from bays and docks. Guatemala. Tanzania and Kenya. Nicaragua. He treated me to dinner again, this time at the estuary...old picnic tables covered in oil cloth. We shared fish and large shrimp split down the middle, 'cooked' in lime juice that was one of the best dishes I've had.

Stacy rowed back at sundown again, into a strong westerly wind. He'd mentioned something about another restless night on board. I didn't know if he was hinting for an invitation to stay. I just know I was content to close the door on a wondrous day and crawl into bed alone. I watched his slow-going trip, marveling at his strength and perseverance and was relieved to finally see that light come on.

This morning's sunlight fell upon his boat, a splendid scene on calm waters. I hung out my laundry and came back to pour a second up of coffee as I glanced out the window. His boat was gone. I grabbed my binoculars and made my way outside to see him rounding Alcatraz Island, heading south towards San Carlos. It feels like a dream. A friend here and gone. A man floating in and out of my life. But I know it was real. I have that kitschy onion opener to prove it. And a deep drag line in the sand in front of the trailer that leads straight into the ocean.


  1. That put a smile on my face! Well done, yet again... for connecting with Stephen, then for sharing your tale.

  2. Thanks Babette. Weird and wonder-full down here. Love it when you comment.

  3. Wow.
    That was awesome. and perfect.