It might have been my socialization, or diet, or early toilet training. Or maybe I am just a complete asshole. Whatever!!! But I have been a loner my entire life – and that’s just fine with me. Since I live in my head. And things are always a lot more interesting up there.
Needless to say, I hated school. Every second that I spent chained to the golden mean was agonizing. And since I was a nerd I didn’t have any actual friends.
Instead, I spent most of my time playing video games with a couple of guys who were as weird as I was. My folks thought that I was an unmotivated loser. And they weren’t exactly wrong.
But, nerds like me DO have a big helping of larceny in our soul. And we LOVE picking through the things that the lesser brains don’t understand. Especially if we are trespassing while we are doing it. That’s how I discovered reverse-engineering, zero-day vulnerabilities.
Zero-day vulnerabilities are those little flaws that hide in every consumer product. And finding them is like strolling through an orchard picking off low hanging fruit.
The real beauty of the thing is that you can sell what you find to the highest bidder. Blackmail is such an ugly word. I prefer to think of myself as an information broker. If you give me enough money I will tell you about the backdoor lurking in your company’s financial system.
The nerd code of ethics obliges me to offer my little insights to the folks who originally made the mistake. But if THEY aren’t interested, there are always the boutique sites on the Darkweb. Those places are chock full of desperados who are ALWAYS interested in ways to get access to other people’s money. And they will pay almost any price.
I had a sliding scale. It ranged from vanilla bugs at forty-thousand, to the “Holy Shit!!!” kind that sometimes topped out at a half-million dollars. I didn’t find many of the latter. But even so - by the time I reached legal drinking age I had a lot of ill gotten plunder stashed away in off-shore accounts.
And thanks to the anonymity of the internet nobody ever knew that I was a pimply-faced teenager. I hear you asking, “How could a teenager open an account in the Caymans?”
Well ... Along the way I MIGHT have helped myself to a few extra identities that I found lying around. So, there are a bunch of plumbers, machinists and housewives out there in blue-collar-land who are filthy rich. They just don’t know it.
Naturally, I had no outside social life except gamer girls. Those girls were just like me - nerdy and maladjusted. They were either painfully shy, or so covered in grotesque tats and piercings that they scared me.
Most of them would fuck me for a Call-of-Duty cheat code. You would have to be one of us to understand why THAT was coin of the realm. But they were not exactly what you’d call “attractive.”
That didn’t get in the way of my fucking them. Since I had only one criterion. She had to have a working hoo-ha and be willing to use it. I wasn’t looking for love. In fact, anything longer than a forty-minute relationship was more than I could commit to.
Hence, my twenties passed in a ganja and sex fueled haze. I still lived in my parent’s basement. Don’t judge me!!!! I’m a nerd. I had no desire to be a grownup. But by my thirty-first year I was getting bored with shaking down the software industry. And since I had squirreled away about nine million dollars at that point. I thought I might attempt my first foray into the adult world.
It was the sort of naïve exploit that I am legendary for. I just loaded up a backpack and bought a one-way ticket to Bimini Island, in the Bahamas.
I actually had a couple of not very well thought out - but nonetheless valid – motives for doing that.
My most important reason was weather. It had sucked my whole life. The temperature was either setting new lows, or highs. And the clouds, rain and snow in Ann Arbor were perpetual. So I wanted to live in year-around summer.
However, moving to a hip-happening place like Miami was totally out of the question. Especially given my social skills. And I am allergic to geezers. So the Southwest was out.
The main reason why I chose Bimini was the population, which was all of 2,000 year-round residents. I still didn’t have any desire to interact with the human race. And Bimini was isolated from the U.S. by 50 miles of ocean.
I had no idea what I was getting into when I got there; at least in terms of the practical aspects, like where and how I was going to live. I had some hazy idea that Bimini was the cannabis capitol of the Caribbean. But I might have gotten that mixed up with Jamaica, which it turns out WASN’T nearby.
Bimini WAS the fishing capitol of the Caribbean. But since fishing is the only pastime that I can think of that is more excruciating than having my fingernails yanked out, that wasn’t a selling point. Flying over the place, I could see that it was mostly mangrove swamps. Of course you never get a sense of where you are until you step out on the tarmac.
My first impression was that it was “tropical” – hot and humid. But there was a decent breeze. There were a couple of beaten up old taxis at what passed for an airport. I had not thought to make reservations. You don’t get worldly, or sophisticated lurking in your parent’s basement.
So I asked the driver to take me to an available hotel. He took me someplace that was so expensive that it must have been paying the drivers kickbacks. It was pretty clear that the islanders considered people like me legitimate prey.
The following morning was exactly like the day before, hot and cloudless. That was precisely what I was looking for. I am. excruciatingly introverted. But I knew I would have to talk to somebody. That is, if I ever wanted to find a place to live. So I screwed up my courage and approached the dude behind the concierge desk.
He looked like a caricature of an island creole, right down to his shaven head. He was a good looking guy, tall and whip slender. And he certainly didn’t seem like a concierge. He had his feet up on the desk. He was dressed in a tropical print shirt that was opened to his navel. And he had on a ratty pair of boat shorts with flip-flops. He looked happy. Maybe it was something in the air. Or maybe he saw me as a newcomer ripe for the plucking.
He said, “May I help you?” It was in that musical, lilting British accented voice that I had come to associate with the locals. I told him that I was looking to move down to Bimini but I needed advice. He literally appeared to swap hats. And he said, “I can advise you sir.” The “for a small sum” part was a foregone conclusion.
He was a jolly fellow named Reg, which was short for Reginald. Reg was one very interesting dude. He appeared to be working every scam imaginable – from weed, to girls, to island tours. And he knew everybody and everything. Looking back on it I considered myself to be a very fortunate nerd to have fallen into his clutches.
If moving to a totally unfamiliar place strictly on a whim sounds a little immature, I can assure you that it was indeed. I knew nothing about Bimini except that it was warm and sunny. The fact that Bimini was a legendary hangout for the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Lucille Ball and Earnest Hemingway was completely unknown to me. I just thought that the name of the island sounded cool.
That kind of ignorance can sometimes get you killed. But luckily, my new buddy only wanted a surprisingly small amount of my money to help me get acclimated. He and I toured the island – or perhaps the better term is islands since Bimini is actually two separate islands with a short passage of water in between.
The place with all of the bars and restaurants is Alice Town. That is on the North Island, just the other side of the passage. I was on the South Island, which is definitely NOT where the action is.
Reg and I walked to the water taxi. That took us from the South side to the North side. It was only 11:00 in the morning but Reg suggested lunch.
I was not thinking “alcohol” as we walked over to Sherry’s Place. But that was what we were there for. The building looked like it had been put together out of driftwood and the clientele at that time of day was decidedly un-touristy. But it turned out that the food was great. And the people were so friendly that I didn’t feel TOO ill-at ease around them.
As I might have mentioned, I am not exactly a fan of the human race. But the camaraderie there was infectious. Of course Reg knew everybody. So five beers later I was part of a happy clan of about a dozen locals.
All of those people had opinions. The general consensus was that I needed to live in Alice Town. Since that was where most of the fun stuff was. I wasn’t exactly looking for fun but most of the stores were there too. So I want along with that.
I had spent the past 15 years living in a basement. And the houses were WAY too communal for my nerd-like tastes. Finally, one of Reg’s friends said, “Why don’t you live on a boat mon? A lot of us do.” Now THAT was intriguing.
Keep in mind that I had never been on a boat in my life. But the concept of a house that was separated from land and that I could move if I didn’t like the neighborhood was offbeat enough that it was very appealing.
I said, “Do you know if there are any that I could look at?” The guy who had brought it up said, “Certainly mon, there’s one over at Browns Marina that you probably can’t afford. But it’s a good example of what I’m talking about.”
So Reg and I and our new friend, whose name was Basil, made our way the 400 yards between Sherry’s and Browns. The distance was also appealing. I already liked Sherry’s and I wanted to keep hanging out there. The fact that I was willing to do anything social was an eye-opener. But the people were so friendly that they melted some of my deep-seated antisocial tendencies.
I was sold the minute I laid eyes on the thing. It was an ungainly 109 feet long, which meant that it had to be located at the end of the docks with the big multimillion dollar yachts out of Miami.
But, instead of being sexy, sleek, and gleaming-white ostentatious, my boat had a bad, red and grey paint job with rusty splotches like zits. And it had clearly been a tugboat in an earlier life.
It sat among the other boats looking like a warthog in a herd of gazelles. It was so muscle bound and ugly that the snooty yachts of the rich and famous seemed to actually be shunning it. I didn’t need to see anything more. I loved it.
Surprisingly, the inside was marvelous. It was compact. But it was still roomier than my folk’s basement. And the living quarters were gorgeous. It was all teakwood and polished brass. And it actually had a nice galley with modern appliances. The lounge area was bright and sunny. And it had two little bedrooms along with a head that actually featured a real shower.
The sales guy took me back to the engine room, which was beneath the entire after-deck of the boat. It was roomy enough to walk around in. Two hulking GM Electro-Motive marine diesels provided the propulsion.
They didn’t look like any boat engine that I had ever heard of. So I asked the guy about them. He said, “Oh, those are the same engines they use to power locomotives.” The thing had started out life as a tugboat after all. And it was clear I wouldn’t lack for horsepower.
Then we went up to the top part. That was where you steered it. The sales guy went through a long spiel about the electronic gear. All I got out of it was that it had a bunch of digital navigation equipment and that it could easily make the trip back and forth to Miami.
That conversation went right past me since I had no intention of ever leaving the dock.
It was obvious that my two new friends and the sales guy thought that I was a wasting their time. Since, I look like an aging nerd. Well - I most-decidedly AM an aging nerd. But I also had a lot of illicitly obtained loot.
They all knew that the asking price was somewhere north of six figures. So they were surprised when I said, “How much?” The sales guy looked at me calculatedly and ventured, “How about a hundred and thirty thousand?”
That was ridiculously cheap – cheaper than most of the houses. It was obvious that he wanted to move the thing. And he hadn’t gotten any interest. I mean who sets out to impress the chicks by buying a big ugly boat like this? Fortunately, they were talking to the one guy who didn’t give a shit about impressing anybody.
The boat must have been sixty years old. But it was speaking to me, like one odd-ball to another. And it perfectly matched my needs. So I said, “I can transfer the money to you in an hour. Can I move in now?”
All three of my companions looked flabbergasted. The agent said, “Don’t you want to talk about the financing terms?” I said, “No – I’ll pay cash. But I want to sleep here tonight.” They continued to look at me like they expected me to say, “Just kidding - #hashtag/smileyface.”
I tapped one of my Cayman accounts for the money. One hundred and thirty large didn’t even make a dent in the principal. Then I signed the papers. Reg and I made the trip back to the hotel on the South Island to grab my backpack. And just like that I was a resident of the Bahamas.
In the interim Reg had changed his attitude. I was no longer a tourist whose pocket he wanted to pick. Instead, he was treating me like I might be worth an investment in the long-term. So he was sitting with me on the afterdeck as the sun went down on my first full day on Bimini.
The sky was an odd combination of purple, red and yellow. I later learned that pretty-much describes every sunset in the tropics. The air was beautifully warm, almost sensual. There was a nice breeze coming in off the Atlantic. And there were no bugs. That was astonishing. Since the mosquitos in Ann Arbor would drain the blood out of you if you sat outside at this time of night.
We were drinking a couple of cold Pirate Republics and just enjoying the tropical evening. The fact that I was sitting anywhere with a non-nerd amazed me. But I felt like the place was already changing me.
Reg said speculatively, “What are you going to do now that you’ve found a place to live?” I said, “Probably nothing.”
He said, “Don’t you need money?” I wasn’t going to tell him about my occupation. Even though he clearly had the same attitude about thievery. Instead I said, “I’m sure I’ll think of something.”
I wasn’t planning to retire from the game entirely. In fact, I needed to talk to HughesNet about their satellite downlink. Twenty gigabits per second would fit my particular ends.
He said cagily, “You’ll have a lot more options if you learn how to operate this thing.” I said with a laugh, “And I bet there is somebody sitting nearby who can teach me how.” He showed me a lot of very white teeth and said, “Perhaps mon – Perhaps.”
That started my tugboat lessons. At first I was absolutely awful– frightened, tentative and clumsy. And the damn thing felt like I was driving the Battleship Missouri. But I suppose that you’ll eventually learn anything if you work at it hard enough. And I AM smart.
Reg was an extremely patient and knowledgeable teacher. Eventually I got to a point where I wasn’t too embarrassing. Nobody would ever mistake me for Tugboat Willie. But at least I could park the thing without ramming the dock – too hard.
I had never had a friend in my life. But Reg was working his way in that direction. Like I said, the island was changing me. Then I got another friend. That was out of pure necessity.
One morning I was leaving the head on my way back to my quarters. Suddenly - a mangy brown flash shot past my feet. I screamed like a little girl, yelled, “RAT!!!” and jumped up on the couch.
I told Reg about my stowaways during the tugboat lesson. So the next day he showed up with something that looked like a refugee from a Pharo’s tomb. It was imperiousness and condescension wrapped in a single attitude. And the creature sat on Reg’s arm, like Cleopatra reclining on her barge.
Whatever it was, it was most definitely in the cat family. But it wasn’t exactly a cat. It had a cat head on a cat body. But it was oddly muscular and exotic looking, with a shorthaired silver-grey coat covered with black ocelot-like spots that looked almost primordial. It featured a very intelligent pair of amber feline eyes. I said with some alarm, “What’s that?”
Reg laughed his infectious laugh and said, “It’s your new crewmate mon.” I said, “Where did you get it – the zoo?”
He laughed again. He said, “I have a friend who specializes in delivering exotic animals to the States,” meaning he was a smuggler. “And he let me have this for a mere two thousand dollars,” meaning he probably gave it to Reg for free.
I said, “What is it, a baby cheetah? And what do you expect me to do with it?” Reg laughed uproariously and said, “You have a rodent problem and every ship at sea keeps a cat for that.”
I muttered uneasily, “That isn’t a cat!!” Reg laughed again and said, “You’re right. Its ancestry is much older than a cat’s. It’s called a Mau and it dates back to ancient Egypt.”
I said, “Are you sure it wants to be here?” He said, “Let’s find out.” And he put the thing down. It wandered around the living quarters disdainfully inspecting things.
Then, as it passed the couch it did something that was too fast to comprehend. Suddenly there was a mouse in its jaws. It let out a low possessive growl and disappeared down the hatch into the engine room. I didn’t have the thing more than two minutes and it was already working on my mouse problem.
Cleopatra seemed like a clichéd name. So after a little internet research I named it Bastet. Bastet is the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of warfare. And that certainly matched the thing’s personality.
They say that Mau’s have a special ability to bond with one person. And Bastet certainly did with me. No matter where I went, Bastet was always around. She was never in the way. But she was a good companion. And needless to say I never saw another rodent on the boat. The fact that I actually began to like the creature was another astonishing example of how much the island had affected me.
I had the internet downlink by then. So I spent some of each day cruising the Darkweb. It is roughly similar to a merchant hanging around the bazaars of Marrakesh - just to see what he can see. I might be a totally unimpressive nerd in physical space. But I am somebody quite different in the virtual world. And I am well known among the super-hackers. So nobody in their right mind would mess with me. My aim was to keep it that way.
At that point I had been on the island for eight months. And I was beginning to wonder why I hadn’t moved there earlier. Each day was exactly like the last – hot and sunny. I spent most nights down at Sherry’s hanging around with Reg. But there were some nights when he was off doing whatever he did. I still didn’t go anywhere without him to buffer me. Because I was STILL an anti-social piece of shit. But I was getting much better.
Every boat requires a lot of maintenance. Especially the wooden areas. One morning I was hosing down the afterdeck wearing nothing but boat shorts. Since I live on the water I have a year-round deep water tan. And at six-four, I am taller than average. Plus, the time that I had spent on my boat had leaned me down to a point where I was more-or-less rawhide.
That was when I heard a perky voice from the dock saying, “What kind of boat is this Mister?” I turned around irritated and almost sprayed her. That was because she was absolutely spectacular.
I’m a guy and this woman was like an average teenager’s wet-dream. She had obviously come in on the big motor sailor that was moored next to me. And might be the daughter, or granddaughter of the dirty old man who was driving it.
She was almost elfin; very tiny with a muscular little body and a pair of very full breasts. I could evaluate her boobs because she was wearing one of those bathing suit tops where the only thing left to the imagination was the color of her nipples. She had on a pair of khaki boat shorts, a lot like mine.
Her face was perfection. This woman was the classic blonde beach bunny from every Gidget movie ever made. I was still pathologically shy. But I was on my own boat. More important, she wanted to know about it. And no nerd can resist the opportunity to show off his technology.
So instead of ducking into the cabin, like I would have normally done. I mopped the sweat off my forehead with my shirt, gave her a faintly pedantic smile and said, “It’s a former Navy YTB Seagoing Tug. It’s been converted to a live-aboard. And it’s my home.”
She gave me a look of pure fascination and said, “Can I come on board? Can you show me around?”
That was miles above my normal capacity to interact with a human being. But It was hard to say “no” to a sexy little thing with big delectable tits and a smile like that. So I said, “sure” and reached out to steady her on my boarding plank.
She didn’t need it. She scampered across like a squirrel on a tree limb and jumped nimbly aboard. She was wearing one of those very light wraparound tropical print skirts that women wear over bathing suits. So I couldn’t evaluate her legs. But her hips and butt were as superb as her tits.
She had big blue eyes that complemented her dirty blonde hair; which she wore in a braid down her back. She was probably from the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. Because she had one of those golden tans that women in south Florida can develop without putting in much sun time.
She was radiating joy and something else as she walked up to me, stuck her hand out like a guy and said, “I’m Ava.” I took it and said, “Everybody down here calls me the Tugboat Man - for obvious reasons – most people just shorten it to Tug.”
I showed her the lounge area and she was blown away by the teak and brass fittings. I have to admit that I had spent a lot of money on décor. I showed her the two little sleeping cabins and the head. And then I took her down the after hatch to the engine room.
In the eight months that I had owned my tug I had gotten absolutely OCD about making the engines so pristinely perfect that you could eat off them. And I was proud of my handiwork. Hey!!! What can I say?? I’m a natural born geek.
She was astonished at the size of the two diesels. I said, “Remember - this used to be a tugboat. That’s why it is wider and more powerful than your average ship. The one you came over on is built for beauty, grace and speed. My ugly old girl is a platform to tow big ships.”
I took her up in the pilot house and showed her the navigation gear. She was so cheerful and full of life that I said without thought, “I was about to eat. If you give me a minute, I can make you lunch too.” She looked delighted and said, “That would be perfect!!”
I parked her in the lounge while I went to take a shower. I had just finished washing the grime and sweat off, when the door to the head opened. That startled me. I yelled, “I’m in here!!!” When a giggling little apparition appeared in the shower with me. She said, “I know.”
She was stark naked and sleek as a seal. She had a perfect little tight dancer’s body with a flat stomach, muscular legs and very hard flanks. Her aureoles were almost virgin pink and her nipples were like bright red cherries from all of the blood flowing through them.
I would have had to be made out of stone to refuse something like that. And at that point one part of me most definitely WAS. She was gazing at me with a challenging fuck-me stare as she buffed Old Lucifer to a sheen. I turned her around with a snarl, and she eagerly backed up on my jutting bowsprit.
She was almost better from the rear. Words like “cute little round butt” don’t come close to describing her. She was exceptionally tight. But I got to the top with a little thrusting. When I did, she let out a groan that might have been heard at Sherry’s. Then she began pushing herself backward emitting loud moans of lust.
I was just getting into my stride when her head shot back and she let out a shriek. I could tell from the contractions and the way she was whipping her long blond hair around that orgasm-one had hit. But there were more to come.
She started to quiver like she was being electrocuted and orgasm-two was a bit louder. She was now braced with her hands widely spaced on the shower wall groaning and gasping and pushing back in a way that I thought she might hurt herself. It was such an intense episode that I arrived a little quicker than usual.
The feeling of my shooting inside of her took her legs out from underneath her. And I wasn’t certain that she hadn’t passed out since she went kind of limp, I was holding her around the waist as I finished and she was flopping around like a rag doll making no sound at all.
But her autonomic contractions were still milking me like a crazed Iowa farmhand - and that odd sensation kept me hard as a rock.
If she had actually passed out she came-to in a matter of seconds. Because she put her hands back to where she had them earlier. Then her whole body seemed to gyrate around me. She was all muscle, like a gymnast and she was working her butt in such a way that she was rotating me inside her in wide 360 degree arcs.
That produced a heated array of shrieks. And then her body went totally rigid. She held that posture for an impossibly long time. Then she collapsed. And we both ended up on the floor in a sodden heap. All-in-all it was the most amazing sexual encounter I had ever experienced,
I got shakily to my feet. She was still just lying there looking like she had been fucked to death. I got us both towels and began to dry her off. She came back from wherever she was visiting and said wearily, “I have never been fucked like that. I thought we would just have a little fun.”
The fact is that I didn’t know where that performance had come from either. I have a lot of experience with friends with benefits. But I am definitely not a porn star. And I have never had a woman pass out on me during sex. Of course having a woman as responsive as Ava helped. But it was almost like I had tapped into some heretofore unknown mystical energy.
Fortunately, I didn’t need to wonder what kind of girl would fuck me a mere hour after meeting me. I knew a lot of women like That. Ava might be a talented amateur, or even a pro. Nonetheless, it was clear that she absolutely loved sex. And that she was in the generation that doesn’t have any hang-ups about what sex means in the grand scheme of things.
We were attracted to each other – nothing more. It was as simple as that. And as a result, we had a good time getting further acquainted. Nobody was hurt. Nobody else was involved, And I wasn’t planning on giving her my class ring afterward. It was just sex. And it was fun.
She dressed and did a little clean-up while I fixed both of us a conch salad. She had never experienced that yummy Key’s delicacy before and she was delighted. I didn’t tell her that a conch is just an edible marine snail. She probably wouldn’t have enjoyed her lunch quite as much.
Then she proceeded to hang out with me on the boat. Being with her was like adopting an eager Welsh Corgi. She was merry and full of energy. And she was really an attractive package of femininity
I finally asked her whether the guy she was with would be pissed at her spending the day with me. She said indifferently, “Oh, he doesn’t mind. He knows that I’ll take care of him tonight. I’m thirty-five years younger than he is and he’s just happy I’m with him.” So he WASN’T her father,
At that, she looked at her watch and said, “Now that you mention it, I gotta run.” She grabbed her wrap, fastened it, kissed me chastely on the cheek. And said, “Thanks for a wonderful day.”
Then, without a word she scurried back down my boarding plank across the dock and up into the boat she had arrived on.
Later that night I was sitting in the warm night air drinking a last beer. There were the usual marina noises, boats coming and going in the bay, water lapping against the dock and the lurid sounds of Ava getting the ever-loving shit fucked out of her next door.
I fell asleep to the keening noises of her latest orgasm. Amazing!!! Her boat left early the next morning. I think the guy she was with was jealous.
One afternoon a couple of days later we were sitting on the deck at Sherry’s. The thing about being on the ocean is that you see weather without having it effect you. And we could all see the edge of something big and nasty moving along the horizon from southwest to the northeast perhaps 20 miles to our west.
The sky in that direction was blood red and the lightning was continuous. You couldn’t hear the thunder but the almost nonstop lightning strikes were throwing up huge flashes.
There were a bunch of us watching from the higher elevation of the sand-hill where Sherry’s is situated. Basil, was one of the group. He said with his classic island lilt, “I’d hate to be out in that.”
He had no idea what an understatement that was for me. Even though I was expert at boat-handling by that point I was decidedly not brave.
Of course, that was when the god who likes to fuck with me decided that it was time to turn me into his personal speed bag. A kid who worked the docks at Browns came running up looking panicked. He spotted me and hustled over to where Reg and I and Basil were sitting. He said, “Tug Boat Man, there’s a boat out there that needs help!!”
A big yacht had gotten caught in the worst of that monster. They were foundering and they had radioed an SOS. My first instinct was to say, “So how does that affect me?” But before I could get the words out Reg said, “Come on mon. We’re the only ones who can help them.”
I knew it. I hated it. But I knew it. And for the first time in my life I actually did the right thing. I was astonished. Getting involved in anything that concerned other people was so totally NOT me.
But, thirty minutes later we were headed west at full-throttle. Tugs are definitely not the greyhounds of the sea. They are more like big fat waddling bulldogs.
But my boat was not encumbered by all of the towing gear that most tugs have. So we were making a respectable twelve knots. Still, it was over an hour before we got into the edge of the worst of it.
It was the oddest weather that I have ever encountered at sea. Normally there is a spattering of rain and that increases proportionally as you progress further into the storm. The same is true with the wind. But in the case of this storm it was almost like we crossed an invisible boundary.
One minute we were in the clear and registering almost no wind. Then the next minute it was like somebody turned off the lights and we were in a violent storm. It was as if we had passed through a curtain into a blacked out room. And it almost seemed like the storm itself was a living entity.
There was underlying energy in the air. It was like the constant lightning had charged the atmosphere with electricity. It even started messing with the digital navigation gear.
We were on a course that was laid out on the GPS location that they had broadcast. But we were also scanning with the tug’s Navico BR24 Broadband Radar.
I had never thought I would use the radar for any practical purpose. I just like to buy leading edge gadgets. Nevertheless, the signal was coming and going irregularly. It made the radar contact seem more like an energy pulse than the usual constant steady blip.
It was fortunate that we were using the radar though. Because we got an intermittent contact about two miles northeast of our GPS destination. The storm was packing gale force winds and the waves were in the twenty, to thirty-foot range. But my old girl is built for weather like this. And she was shouldering the waves aside on her two 2,500 horsepower locomotive engines like they were nothing.
We finally sighted the ship. It was sideways in the trough of the waves and getting beaten up pretty badly. It was a hundred-and-fifty-foot cabin cruiser. And its size was the only thing keeping it afloat. Reg had been on the radio as I conned us close in order to get a line across. He had them preparing to receive it.
We had a tow cable that was left over from the last owner of the tug. But no gun to shoot it to the distressed yacht. Nevertheless, Basil and Reg managed to secure our end to one of the old girl’s original towing cleats.
Those were very brave men. Because everything that they were doing was happening in high wind and driving rain, which was sweeping back and forth across the afterdeck with enough force to knock you over at times.
It was also happening in total darkness – with almost no visibility except where the deck lighting was. The only other light came from where I was illuminating the yacht with our searchlight.
We could see the crew waving for the guideline.
I timed the rising wave so that we were actually looking down at the deck of the cruiser as we were passing its forward port quarter – perhaps forty feet distant.
Reg twirled and then threw the big grappling hook with the light guideline attached. It was an amazing display of seamanship.
The hook grabbed the cruiser’s front rail. And the other crew pulled the accompanying towline across and secured it to their own cleat.
I firewalled the throttles. And the big yacht snapped around on the towline like a puppy on a leash. Then, without further ado we pulled our burden through the teeth of the storm and back to Browns.
It took another two hours but five thousand horsepower makes an authoritative statement when it comes to getting anything through rough seas.
They had no engine power so I nudged them into a berth. The boat looked to be in the ten-to-twenty million-dollar class. They must have had a generator going on-board because all the time that we were maneuvering the thing was lit up like Times Square. Then we docked ourselves.
Reg and Basil had done all of the heavy lifting on deck. And they were both battered and soaked to the skin. But they wanted to get back to Sherry’s as fast as they could. No island creole worth his salt would pass up the chance to describe the adventure that we had just had.
Sherry’s was packed. And we were greeted like conquering heroes. Since I absolutely hate being in the limelight I retreated to the back corner of the bar and hid out in the dark while Reg and Basil provided the entertainment. They were a great act.
The story was imaginative to say the least – the waves were only thirty feet, not fifty. But the locals just expected their tale to be “inventive” and they were having fun asking the two heroes to embellish it. That was a perfect example of the kind of joie-de-vivre that permeated the entire island.
And that spirit was making me into a different, slightly less feral human being. The problem was that there were a few mainland types at Sherry’s that night.
Mainlanders come in two varieties. The tourists never stop telling you how quaint everything is. They are just embarrassing.
The really insufferable ones are the Hemingway wanna-be’s. The waters around Bimini feature very big fish. And THAT has always attracted guys like Hemingway. Meaning, men who need to allay the doubts that they are having about their own masculinity. Those guys are universally aggressive. Worse, they consider anybody else’s success a threat to their status as “manly men.”
There were three of the manly-men types sitting around a table listening to Reg and Basil. They had obviously been there for some time.
Basil was just getting to the part where we were securing the line from the yacht in the dark when one of the guys at the manly-man table started laughing belligerently.
Basil stopped and said in a very even voice, “Something funny, mon?”
The mainlander was a big guy, a mid-forties fellow with the kind of beefy frame that indicated he might have once played football. He and all of his friends had that upper-middle-class attitude, where people like Basil were put on this earth to do their bidding.
Hemingway junior said, “You islanders are like little children. None of that story is true.”
Now – besides being incredibly condescending that statement was also downright insulting. Especially given the fact that we had risked our necks to save a boatload of people; who were just like this asshole. And it was Reg and Basil who had been exposed on the open deck in the driving rain.
Reg said with menace in his voice, “What do you mean mon?”
There was suddenly a lot of dark electricity in the air. The fool was about to answer when three new arrivals distracted everybody’s attention. And their entrance probably saved Hemingway Junior’s life.
The leader of the group was late 50s, incredibly handsome and charismatic. If he was not the boss of one of the Miami Cartels he should have played one on TV. His wife was a stunner, perhaps fifteen years younger with a Latina body that would have made Sophia Vergara jealous.
But the third member of the party was the person who grabbed everybody’s attention. She was tall and tan and young and lovely. The Girl from Ipanema must have looked exactly like her. She had abundant light brown hair with expensive blonde streaks. It was parted in the middle and it fell straight down her back. She was in a t-shirt and shorts. And she was remarkable.
Women with jugs that big generally do not have such a long narrow supple waist and lithe hips. That alone would make her exceptional. But her real glory was an extra-long pair of perfect legs. My first thought was “Barbi” but this woman was definitely NOT plastic. The assembled multitude just stared. You could have heard a pin drop.
The Cartel kingpin smiled and said politely, “Where is the Tugboat Man?”
OMG!!! They say that you have a “fight-or-flight” reflex buried deep in your lizard brain. Well my reflex is strictly “flight.” Except I was trapped in the corner where I was hiding, hoisted on my own petard!!!
Reg smiled his thousand-watt smile gestured toward me and said, “Over there mon.” I was cowering behind the table looking for all the world like Bambi in the headlights of an oncoming Peterbuilt.