I initially published this in 2005, and recently noticed that it’s still getting hits. Before comments were disabled by the WordPress clock, it racked up 50 of them. Some were heartbreaking, some were spirit-lifting. So – I got permission from El Jefe to repost it today.
Something a little different this week – just to show that there are things I can write about that aren’t Freeper-oriented:
Back in the 90s, I only had one vacation dream – to go on a Windjammer Barefoot Tour.
This company had a small fleet of tall ships, and they weren’t the kind of place to wear a tux for dinner.
They were the kind of cruise where they had a “Pirate Night”, and you weren’t really sure if they were play-acting.
They were the kind of ships that had all the passengers moon the “Foo-foo ships” as they sailed past the 15-deck-high monstrosities, fire the windjammer’s signal cannon at them as a literal parting shot, then repair to the deck bar for a rum swizzle or ten.
They were the kind of ships that could cozy up to islands and coves that the cruise ships couldn’t get within a nautical mile of.
But before I could scrape up the cash, two things happened:
The S.V. Fantome four-master from the fleet was lost with all crew in a hurricane, and suddenly, you couldn’t book online any more.
I didn’t know it, but the founder, Captain Burke, had retired and left his kids to run the business – into the ground.
And they did – with a vengeance.
Please click on the “continue reading” for the whole amazing tale of Captain Burke and his beautiful tall ships…
The Flying Cloud:
The flying cloud as of 2009:
And if that wasn’t bad enough, Captain Burke’s marvelous, whimsical, outrageous Florida
home castle burned to the ground (he was in a nursing home by then)
(a long read, but SO worth it!)
This story had everything. A far beyond colourful patriarch, scheming brothers and sisters, draining of company coffers for personal use – a true-life “Dallas” series with tall ships instead of oil wells. Someone should really make this story into a movie.
All flesh is grass? Best laid plans of mice and men? Preen over that house/car/wardrobe as much as you like – in 50 years (or less) it’ll all be gone, either crumbled to ashes, or sold to someone who neither knows nor cares to know about you?
Or the old standby – entropy increases.
But damn, it must have been fun while it lasted!
(footage below is of the S.V. Fantome before the hurricane sank it)
My humble apologies – the footage below was taken on the Fantome’s sister ship, the S.V. Polynesia, which was sold several times after the dissolution of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises.
An infomercial for Windjammer including the perky hostess holding forth in the now-underwater Fantome, and a surprisingly young-looking Captain Burke: