Hobie Cat, Hobie Cat, where are you bound?
Silently streaking over the sound.
Your sails standing high,
Proudly contrast the sky,
It’s not just a boat;
I know it can fly!
When she gets up to speed,
She’ll sing you a song.
But if you’re weak in the knees,
You’d best not go along.
For there’s always a thrill,
And sometimes a spill!
Hobie Cat, Hobie Cat – go where you will!
The world that we know
dwindles down to size
on the shoreline behind us.
We sail along on the song that
is the wind.
~ Bruce W. Constantine
To the best of my knowledge, this is the only piece of poetry my father wrote. Whatever possessed him to pick up a pencil and write this, I’ll never know. However, I would bet that it was the result of long hours chatting with one of his sailing buddies until they had it down pat; Followed by him writing it out. I see no errors or erasures, and I know his handwriting well enough to suspect that he simply wrote it out straight through. The last verse – oddly indented – looks like it was written separately, or at least later than the first two verses. I think it’s the better of the three, and I fear it might be a song lyric… but I’m not searching the ‘Net because I like the idea that he wrote it.
In 1979, my mom and dad, and their friends the Hollisters, started a long-time tradition of chartering bare-boat sailboats in the Caribbean.
As I’ve been working my way through things I kept from the house, I recently got to scanning this cruising permit which my father had always kept framed on the wall near his work bench.
To all whom these presents may come
know all men that by
the powers vested in me by the Government
of the Virgin Islands
Master of the Vessel Kona Kai
with his gallant crew of 4
is entitled peacefully to cruise and enjoy
the waters, beaches and reefs
of these blessed islands
from the 18 day of Nov 1979
to the 25 day of Nov 1979
USS Furse (DD-882/DDR-882) was a Gearing-class destroyer of the United States Navy, named for Lieutenant John H. Furse USN (1886–1907).
My father served aboard as a fire control technician (as in “gun fire”); He operated a radar tracking and guidance system which controlled the targeting of the ships guns. At other times (I believe “special sea and anchor detail” being the correct parlance) he was tasked as a “phone talker” which generally entailed following a half step behind the officer of the deck (i.e., the officer commanding the ship at any given moment) and relaying communications through a microphone and headset he was wearing. (So if the Captain wants to single up all lines, he can simply say, “fo’c’s’le, bridge, single up.” and the ever-present, invisible sailer repeats it into the phones.)
Anyway. Here is a small collection of photos my father took of USS Furse.
Some of my readers are salty dogs, and will wonder how a sailor took photos of his own ship under way. During a Mediterranean cruise, Furse exchanged some sailors with a French destroyer during joint maneuvers.
Way back in 1980, my dad arranged to help a friend (a navy buddy if I recall correctly) named Drew move his yacht from Cat Island (in the Bahamas) to Miami.
It was as much a vacation for us, as it was us helping Drew and his wife move their boat. We took a commercial flight to Nassau and spent a day or two there. From Nassau, we took this little charter plane to Cat Island… which is just a spit of sand with nothing on it other than a tiny “runway”. From there we sailed the 200+ miles to Miami.
To make the “crossing”, my dad and Drew had to stay up in shifts sailing through the night. Although it does take some attention to detail to navigate, the real concern is that the area is thick with commercial shipping and the “rule of gross tonnage” suggests it is unwise to assert right-of-way (any sailing vessel has the legal right-of-way over any powered vessel.) So we prudently dodged enormous ships who couldn’t see us (visually) and probably didn’t care even if they did notice us on radar (via Drew’s radar reflector.) Anyway.
Do I remember anything in particular? Absolutely. I remember staying up all night, on the open sea, in the pitch black. You couldn’t see your hand in front of your face… nothing but star-light. And the stars… The constellations looked to fall out of the sky onto your head.