Captain Bill

I believe in playing it by ear. I’ve learned a lot from Captain Bill of the World Cruising Club. I learned how to tie a clove hitch and a sheepshank. But more importantly, I learned that you will come out the other side so long as you close your eyes and dive in.

Captain Bill Fleetwood, my grandfather, took the chair next to me and modern day vagabonds filled the rest of the seats at the table. The lifestyle of a world sailor was exemplified by the bamboo adorned, family run, restaurant on the beach. Each traveler inflated the air with the kind of nautical tales you’d hear in a port town bar. I dug my toes a little deeper into the sand and looked out over the Tahitian water at my grandfather’s sailboat. “What are we doing tomorrow?” I asked my grandfather as endless possibilities of fun were bouncing around my head like ping pong balls. “I don’t know, something that we didn’t do today.” He answered like it was a routine response. Confused and slightly put off I hesitated with my next query. “Will we be sailing tomorrow?” Then Captain Bill squinted his wrinkled salty eyes and said, “Well, depends what mother nature decides to give us.” Seemed simple enough. But there is a method behind that crusty, old, sun baked seadog’s thinking. He’s just playing it by ear, taking it day by day. Impressionable as I was at the age of 13 I picked up on this laidback lifestyle. Before I knew it I was winging it too and that swashbuckling old grandfather of mine and his impressive sailors beard were my encouragement.

Allow me to justify why groomed facial hair influenced my life. The nurturing and growth of that beard tells tales of when Captain Bill was attacked by modern day pirates armed with machine guns. The gray of that beard tells me that a life of playing it by ear and taking chances won’t kill you, because he escaped from those pirates. So to me the ride along the way is worth taking a chance every time. It’s normal for me to wake up and let the day take me wherever it may choose. I eagerly take the long way home for the chance of meeting the girl I want to marry. My skis point downhill and when in doubt I straighten them out, because taking a shot is better than panicking and hesitating. I believe in playing it by ear because taking things as they come keeps my life from getting monotonous. I yearn for a life of taking chances that can tell as many tales as the experiences that grayed Captain Bill’s beard. But I wont take a chance on living with a naked face.

Max F.

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