As John dodge mentioned in his yarn, we joined ROMANCE as complete strangers, and now share one of the strongest bonds that any two humans can... 5 months on ROMANCE. Those days are indescribably rich now, but I'll try to explain the feeling of nights aboard ROMANCE.
One evening, while First Mate Tom Schafer was contemplating a move to another vessel, I had the rare pleasure of overhearing a 50 year seaman offer > farewell advice to his mate. It was a unique combination of seagoing philosophy, fatherly wisdom, and ROMANCE level leadership. I had never experienced a true leader until working for Skipper, and sadly, I doubt I will.
"Tooommm" Skipper would say, in a slow, throaty whisper, "You know what to do now" he said at the end of his discussion. The next day, Tom left ROMANCE after two years aboard. Another night had a different but equally memorable "All hands on deck, now!" Schafer had this voice that would rip through your gut on a good day. "SESKI, what the !@#$!@#$!@#$ are you doing." When the winds were 40 kts. and building, with all her canvas bent, he could knock you over with his bark. We scrambled into oilies, and Skipper directed the most experience crew aloft first and the greenest followed. At that time John Dodge, and Tom Schafer had the most experience, followed by Peter McDonald and me. When we reached the royal the winds were so loud that not even Schafer could be heard. I finally understood why they called those think stirrups. Laying over the royal yard, furling with one hand, and life gripping with the other, we eventually stowed that sail. Upon reach the deck, the winds had really kicked up. The seas were confused and awash with foam. The deck was heaving with a liveliness that I had never seen. Right then, a strange calmness came over my mates and me all at the same time. It was as if the wind had stopped, and stars had appeared. We were becoming sailors.
In a quite way, I've spent the rest of my life trying to equal to those adventure days of BRIGANTINE ROMANCE. I returned to the Islands to sail on ORIANDA wonderful schooner of 86 ft. and PANDA another schooner of 130 ft. But none can compare humble, but invincible ROMANCE.
With highest regard to all crew, Skipper and Mrs. K.
Grosse Pointe Farms, MI 48236
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