The Price of Friendship

Portrait of Carini
Portrait of Carini

This month marks 40 years since I first set foot in Italy.  Arriving on the plane from the U.S., landing at Malpensa

(north of Milan), we needed to get a domestic flight from Linate (closer to Milan).  This meant a bus ride through parts of Milan to get from one airport to the other.

Having to change airports in a foreign land was in itself an adventure. On that bus, gazing out the window, I realized I wasn’t in “Kansas” anymore.  My preconceived notions of Italy, were disappearing like water in the desert.  The billboards of naked women advertising something or other, were the final straw. I vowed then and there to accept what is and to make no assumptions. Now, 40 years later, I’ve tried to do this in every new country, new town, new face.

There was never a saying so apt, as “When in Rome, do as the Romans.” So I did.

Starting with an open mind always helps, fate of personalities and timing are also clearly important.  Now, 40 years later, my Italian friends are more like family.  In that strange paragon that allows us different family roles, sometimes simultaneously. Thus, in Budoia, I am both the oldest son and the younger sibling. It’s great having an older sister. With Gino, I am the younger brother, carefree, always up for an adventure.  Slipping from my real life, I cocoon myself from my “normal” responsibilities.

So, in this little corner of Italy, nestled against the Dolomiti, in an area that mixes Friuli with the Veneto, I find myself ensconced in the familiarity of friends who are more than family. The family one chose.

My only jobs here are pretty much limited to opening the next bottle of Prosecco, getting up in time to eat, or my favorite, being the chauffeur (picture Driving Miss Daisy).  I love driving and in the western world, much of Europe is still the best.  The recent program to change intersections to roundabouts, traffic circles, has made the driving even sweeter.  Now every road has been transformed into a F1 track.  From Gino’s car showroom to Budoia, a distance of 14 miles, the route takes you thru Pordenone and two other towns, there are only two stoplights.  All the rest of the intersections having been converted to the above mentioned circles, (maybe 25).  A 20-minute trip during the day with traffic, becomes a 14-minute exercise late at night with empty roads. A pure joy to drive, rain or snow, sun or fog.  (Not even on Dauntless have I encountered fog so thick with visibility so bad, less than 20 feet!).

But as usual I digress.

This is post is about friendship or better stated, the value of friendship. Though maybe the driving allows me to be in a space in which I can free my mind to see and appreciate what is?   Forse, Perhaps.

Hanging around Gino’s car dealership, waiting for him to finish work, so we can do what we always do, eat! I thought of the last 40 years since I have known Gino.  This car dealership is actually Gino’s third. Some years were good, some were not, sort of like Trump losing $20 billion.  However, in Italy, one does not get those who did pay taxes to reimburse you for the next 20 years!

In my wanderings, in both body and mind, I noticed a picture portrait hanging on the wall of Gino’s disorganized office. You can tell it’s his office because he has 50 pipes sitting on his desk. My father liked smoking pipes and much like Gino had different pipes or combinations of pipes.  But I never understood why he needed more than one and he was certainly not going explain it to me, as he understood I only had a fleeting interest in the answer. (I think there is a lesson here for me in regards to my own nephews!).

But I was touched by that picture on his wall.  Oh, I certainly knew who it was.

It’s his friend, or really mentor, Senor Carini from Gino’s first car dealership.  I remember meeting and seeing Carini often in the Alfa Romeo dealership that Gino had for 25 years.  A tall, very elegant man, with a chiseled face that always had a pleasant smile and a kind word for someone like me in my stumbling Italian.

Back then, Gino was a young wheeler-dealer, (now he is an old wheeler-dealer), but he always deferred to Carini due to the man’s vast experience and steadfast style.

So, it was appropriate that Gino has Carini’s picture on his office wall, while having no other pictures, not even of his devoted wife and brilliant daughter. (though there may be a picture of them on this cluttered desk)

Carini passed away a long time ago. But seeing his picture on the wall reminded me of how faithful Gino has also been to our friendship.  Though good times and bad, more family than friend. Always there to help, advise, console, even during times that were not so good for him.

That evening, as I thought of Gino and his life, his successes and disasters, one thing remained firm and fast in his life, his devotion to family and friends.  His acknowledgement that his success was due to people like his mentor Carini and his wife and now, also, his daughter.

So now, in his third car dealership, and probably, hopefully, his most successful, his humility is evident for all to see.

Because whose name is on the building? Not his, as it was in the past; but that of his mentor and friend, Carini.

Carini Auto in Pordenone, Italy
Carini Auto in Pordenone, Italy

Had Donald Trump had even an iota of this humility, he would be our next President.

 

 

 

Cruising on Dauntless

Sunset over Southern Sweden
Sunset over Southern Sweden, Anchored Next to Island

But before talk about the upcoming cruise 2016 and & 2017, we need to take a step back and look at what for me, made this summer so successful, my friends/crew who joined me and made the trip fun and interesting.

With Julie’s limited cruising time, but with us wanting to take advantage of seeing as much of Europe as we can while Dauntless is here, having friends, and even strangers aboard, makes the traveling fun.

I spent the entire month of September alone, from Stockholm to Dublin.  It turns the cruising from an adventure into a chore. (See my Sept 7th post on Trawler Forum, http://www.trawlerforum.com/forums/s3/dauntless-european-cruise-coming-merciful-end-22135.html)

Kadey Krogen in the Baltic
Kadey Krogen in the Baltic
Larry on Watch
Larry on Watch

I like the company, not only to pass the time, but also to teach.  And I even eat and drink better with company.

So my goal is a simple one:  I want my friends/guests/crew to enjoy themselves, have a bit of doing something different, that they would not do at home, like even watching Korean Dramas and learn some skills about running our Krogen 42.

Julie and I did a 4 day trawler school a few years ago.  Then I joined the USCG Aux and learned the basics of being on a boat crew.  I also got my USCG Captain’s and Master’s 100 ton license. So I hope my friends leave with some of those same basics that I have

Karla waiting for the water to return
Karla waiting for the water to return

learned.

Ivan securing lines
Ivan securing lines. He was cold.

So our cruising ends up in part like being in an extended trawler school.

To that end I have been relatively successful.  People like helping and learning the basics, like line handling, navigation, etc.  And everyone leaves with a little more knowledge than at the start.  Some couples, like Karen and Jason have been with us three times.

Docking is by far the most stressful time on a boat.  I continually strive to do a better job of communication with all on the boat.  It’s important to describe beforehand exactly what will or can happen and lay out possible courses of actions. Included in that is the best and worst case scenario and what we will do in case such and such happens. Also, to make sure everyone understands how to handle contrary instructions from those on the dock trying to “help”.

So let’s talk first about those who were on Dauntless this past summer.

Dauntless Finds a Buddy Too
Dauntless Finds a Buddy Too

In a nutshell, I had people with me from the time I left Ireland in late May until the very end of August.

I am very grateful to all those who spent time on Dauntless.  Everyone contributed something.  Here is the gist of time spent.  Of the 125 days of the cruise from May 25th to Oct 1st, I had someone on board for 90 of 125 days. Of those 90 days, couples were on board for 60 days, I had singlets on board for almost 40 days.

That is further broken out in chronological order:

  • Larry and Karla, from Waterford to Honfleur, France
  • Pierre-Jean, helped me move the boat up the English Channel, from Honfleur to Oostende. He lives in Paris and had contacted me just to spend some time on a Kadey Krogen.  I was happy to oblige. He also brought me some exquisite wines and cheeses.  It was also his misfortune to spend the two roughest days of the whole summer.

    Ivan and Bas along a Dutch Canal
    Ivan and Bas along a Dutch Canal
  • Ivan, the youngest at 14 years old, grandson and son of my Italian friends, met me in Holland in June. The good news is that Ivan, after having spent 28 days aboard going thru the canals and locks of Holland, Friesland and Germany, returned home with most of his limbs and body parts intact.
  • Bas, oldest son of our Dutch friends, joined Ivan and I in Friesland, the province of his father. He left us after the Kiel Canal (Ost-See Kanal) passage, at the end of June. I’ve known Bas for all of his 25 years and it was a joy being with him in his father’s birthplace.
  • With their help, I got to the start of the Cruising Association Baltic Rally on July 5th in Rugen, Germany.

    Martin fixes my charger by plugging it in
    Martin fixes my charger by plugging it in
  • Eve and Nigel, joined Dauntless as the end of the Rally on the same day that Ivan left to return to Italy after an exciting month on Dauntless. Eve and Nigel then left after 10 days in Gdansk, where Julie joined us.
  • The time lines for these three weeks were largely built around Julie’s vacation time and our desire to see the Baltic States, Latvia and Estonia in particular.
  • Karen and Jason then met us in Riga. This is their third cruise on dauntless having also joined us previously in the Bahamas and Maine.

We ended up spending a lot of time in Helsinki. Far more time than it was worth.  I was disappointed in that it was

Eve and Nigel in Poland
Eve and Nigel in Poland

the plan I had made up.  But Karen and Jason left from Helsinki, Julie left a few days later and Dana and Peter arrived from New York.

  • Dana and Peter only cruised in the one country, Finland, as the weather was not conducive to return to Tallinn as I had planned originally. We cruised east and west of Helsinki. At the end of their 10 days, they took the fast ferry back to Tallinn and Leonie and Martin arrived on the ferry from Tallinn.
  • Leonie and Martin then cruised with me in Finland, the Aland Islands and Sweden, two weeks later they left from Stockholm and I was all alone for the first time in three months.

    Julie and Dauntless in Gdansk
    Julie and Dauntless in Liepaja, Latvia
  • I already commented on September above. It’s interesting to read that now and know that as unhappy as I sounded, it was actually worse.
  • Finally a month later, Jennifer, daughter of my dear Alaskan friends of 30 years, spent the last week on Dauntless as I got back to Ireland. I have no pictures of her on the boat because they were lost when my phone died cruising up the river to Waterford.

Having spent the month of September alone, I was really happy to have someone for the last week of the trip.  It makes it a little easier to finish everything up.  It was a great way to end the summer, as we flew to NYC together and she stayed with us in the Bronx and we even had a great Korean dinner the next night in Flushing.

So the trip ended where it began 4 months and 6 days earlier.

This is probably the last time for quite a while that we will go full circle. From now on, we will be making slow, but steady progress towards a destination.

What I had done this past year was to make a tentative plan, then send it to anyone who had expressed any

Peter and Dana in Helsinki
Peter and Dana in Helsinki
The Stars & Stripes over Estonia
The Stars & Stripes over Estonia

interest in joining us at some point.  As plans were solidified, I built the final plan around my guests as they bought plane tickets, made vacation days, etc.

I know it’s not good to cruise on a schedule, but it was not so bad and the times we had to make minor adjustments, everyone understood.  The main problem was the pressure I put on myself, which is something I must work on. This coming year, I’ll probably let people lock in the time they will be on Dauntless, but not the exact location for arrival and departure.  I’ll give a country and probably port, but make sure all know it’s subject to change.

Julie watching her eyelids
Julie watching her eyelids. She loves the KK42 because of its Pilot House

We averaged 1,100 nm (2,000 km) a month this past summer. Too much.

My goal and tentative plan will be closer to 600 nm per month, once cruising season starts in April and ends when we get where we are going.

Leonie & Martin and our $100 solution to getting off D
Leonie & Martin and our $100 solution to getting off D
Helsinki. Not aCrew Member
Helsinki Ferry Terminal. Not a Crew Member

 

Jennifer and I in Waterford. That's her hand. I'm not clear why she was not included in picture.
Jennifer and I in Waterford. That’s her hand. I’m not clear why she was not included in picture.
Leonie seeing only blondes in Helsinki
Leonie seeing only blondes in Helsinki