It was close quarters on Sparky, where 10 of us now shared space that had previously been packed with half that number. Sparky’s crew welcomed us with a biblical generosity, if not killing the fatted calf, then giving us the first and largest servings of Trader Joe’s steaming Asian chicken stew. They, too, had had an eventful trip. Their toilet broke during the race, and on the return, the radar antenna had pulled free from the mast, forcing Rob, an ardent rock climber, to shinny up the mast and reattach it in the same high winds we had recently come through.
It’s a motley crew. Rob, the captain, left his Cranston, Rhode Island, birthplace in his late teens, heading for the oil fields of the Southwest and eventually building a successful oil-and-gas company in Midland, Texas. (“We’ve been fracking safely for 60 years.”). Jack, Rob’s childhood friend who never left Cranston, a housepainter whose left foot is curled from years of stretching out from a ladder, who told funny yet heartfelt stories in an incomprehensible New England-Irish accent – to wit: “How many potatoes does it take to kill an Irishman?” The answer, of course, is “none.”
Eric, a quiet physician and solitary sailor who has spent his career studying the human brain at the National Institutes of Health. And Bob and Nancy, relative newlyweds – Bob, the brilliant helmsman who doubled as short-order chef; Nancy, who nursed both our wounds and our psyches.
We headed toward Marion, an allegory of generosity.