On Watch

Cruising World - - Contents - BY CAP’N FATTY GOODLANDER

Mar­tin Prins loves to rock the dock, re­gard­less of whether it’s in Europe, the States or New Zealand. Ditto cock­pits, yacht clubs and beaches. He’s a large, easy­go­ing Dutch sailor who lives aboard his Bavaria 46 Acapella with his wife, Ellen Rei­jn­dorp, an elec­tric bass gui­tar and some dog-eared pass­ports.

We first met mu­si­cally last year in Tahiti and have been bump­ing into each other at var­i­ous Pa­cific cruiser par­ties ever since. Yes­ter­day we jammed to­gether in Whangarei, New Zealand, at the Town Basin, along with a dozen other cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tors.

Mar­tin en­joys nur­tur­ing mu­si­cal tal­ent al­most as much as play­ing. He man­ages to en­cour­age his fel­low mu­si­cians with­out stress­ing them out. Some mem­bers of our in­for­mal scratch band have been play­ing for, oh, two weeks or so, while others have been pluck­ing for a lifetime. Mae­stro Mar­tin knows it isn’t about get­ting the per­for­mance per­fect but rather en­joy­ing the mu­si­cal mo­ment.

He peers over his bass gui­tar, gives me a nod, and says, “Make some noise, Fatty.”

I ner­vously take a solo, miss the chord change but re­cover dur­ing the turn­around of the 12-bar one-four-five chord blues pro­gres­sion. A lusty cheer goes up from my fel­low pickers. Af­ter all, I hung in and man­aged to—kinda—rally at the end. The group is sup­port­ive, to say the least. “You had

all the right notes, chords and the vo­cals,” some­one quipped. “Now it is just a mat­ter of play­ing them at the same time.”

So true. That’s why Mar­tin calls it “mak­ing noise” rather than solo­ing. Mak­ing noise isn’t nearly as in­tim­i­dat­ing. Ev­ery week, one or two in­trigued mem­bers of our Kiwi au­di­ence word­lessly morph from pas­sive lis­ten­ers into shy cre­ators. “Soon ev­ery Jack Tar on the North Is­land will be in the band,” mar­vels a Euro mul­ti­hull sailor with a rusty ka­zoo.

“How ’bout play­ing Dy­lan’s ‘All Along the Watch­tower’?” asks David Irvin, of the 65-foot S&s-de­signed, alu­minum Rewa, built by Abek­ing & Ras­mussen. “It’s only three chords.” Three chords are plenty for many of us. Thank God for “Eleanor Rigby,” which has only two.

Mar­tin and David are not the only string pluck­ers with nur­tur­ing skills. The dy­namic duo of Larry Hamil­ton and Sue Holt, two ukulele-crazed East Coast sailors aboard a well­found For­mosa 46, Serengeti, are the so­cial glue that holds us far-flung mu­si­cians to­gether. Sue is Canadian and was a dinghy cham­pion in her youth. Mov­ing south, she be­came the mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for Beneteau USA. Larry’s been in­volved with var­i­ous cruis­ing boats for three decades. Their dream as a cou­ple was to sail the world, and that’s ex­actly what they are do­ing.

“No sched­ule,” Sue ad­mits. “No mas­ter plan. Just cruis­ing fun from here on out!”

“We were both a bit con­cerned about leav­ing our ca­reers and ven­tur­ing off­shore,” Larry says. “But we never looked back. The cruis­ing life is amaz­ingly ful­fill­ing, and the mu­si­cal ca­ma­raderie we share makes it even bet­ter.”

Why the grow­ing

Of­ten at beach par­ties in par­adise, the band sets up un­der a palm tree within earshot of the main group, and the sailors wan­der back and forth be­tween the con­ver­sa­tion­al­ists and the rock­ers. In­stant bare­foot dance party!

en­thu­si­asm for homegrown mu­sic among cruis­ers world­wide? One rea­son is tech­nol­ogy. It is now pos­si­ble to carry por­ta­ble amps like the JBL Eon One aboard

Serengeti. It al­lows nu­mer­ous mu­si­cians to jack in to a sin­gle bat­tery-op­er­ated amp and play for up to five hours. Of­ten at beach par­ties in par­adise, the band sets up un­der a palm tree within earshot of the main group, and the sailors wan­der back and forth be­tween the con­ver­sa­tion­al­ists and the rock­ers. In­stant dance party!

An­other rea­son there are more sail­ing gui­tar play­ers than ever be­fore is be­cause many of us are life­long rock-star wannabes and only now have the time and money to be able to in­dulge our sti­fled mu­si­cal pas­sions. Whether we think of our­selves as rock­ers, pickers, coun­try croon­ers, folkies or blue­grass types doesn’t mat­ter. The mu­sic it­self brings us to­gether.

The third rea­son is that in­ex­pen­sive IOS soft­ware like On­song now al­lows ev­ery­one with an ipad tablet to be in­stantly on the same page—er, screen—and even change keys if needed.

“Too com­pli­cated,” sniffs one of our ukulele play­ers, a re­gal Samoan sailor named Li­tara Bar­rott. She lives aboard the wooden ketch Sina with her hus­band, Noel. She of­ten re­gales us with tales of Cape Horn—just one of the mile­stones that won them the Blue Wa­ter Medal from the Cruis­ing Club of Amer­ica in 2002.

Yes, we are an eth­ni­cally di­verse group, but our lust for melody unites us. Mu­sic is the uni­ver­sal lan­guage. I’ve had won­der­ful times play­ing in Fiji, Bor­neo, Van­u­atu, Yap, Co­cos Keel­ing and Mada­gas­car with lo­cal mu­si­cians, de­spite not hav­ing a sin­gle spo­ken word in com­mon.

As an ice­breaker, I col­lect gui­tars strings from First World mu­si­cians and dis­trib­ute them in­for­mally to Third World mu­si­cians on dis­tant isles. A few have never played with real store-bought strings be­fore.

I’ve found that the mu­si­cal tastes of sailors vary as widely as their boats. Lisa Benck­huy­sen of the highly mod­i­fied (crazily, they threw away the tran­som!) Carl Schumacher-de­signed Ex­press 37 Har­lequin en­joys writ­ing songs as she cir­cum­nav­i­gates. She or­ga­nized a cruiser’s tune that we sang for the Tourist De­part­ment dur­ing the cli­max of the 2018 Blue­wa­ter Fes­ti­val in Tonga. Many of the crews on boats from around the world con­trib­uted a verse. As odd as it sounds, “Vava’u, We Love You” came off quite well and was greeted with wide smiles by the lo­cals.

Other float­ing mu­si­cians pre­fer to keep it techno-sim­ple. Vandy Shrader of the Able Apogee 50 Scoots just brings out her bon­gos and is al­ways in de­mand. (Her hus­band, Eric, plays bass.) If I don’t feel like lug­ging my Rain­song gui­tar ashore, I just toss a plas­tic egg shaker in my pocket, or a pair of mara­cas, and back up the band with my (faint) per­cus­sion and per­haps the oc­ca­sional vo­cal.

Clas­si­cal Amer­i­can pi­anist Barbi Devine has a Roland elec­tric pi­ano built into her Whitby 42 Pago in the Med, but seago­ing in­stru­ments don’t have to be large or ex­pen­sive. Hohner har­mon­i­cas are al­ways wel­come. Wash­boards and tamarind seeds can be called into play as well. Dis­carded brake pads ring like a bell in poorer coun­tries. Elab­o­rate drum sets can be cre­ated from empty up­side-down paint cans. Any wood butcher with a pile of hard­wood can whittle up a prim­i­tive vi­bra­phone.

My wife, Carolyn, and I know pen­ni­less cruis­ers in South­east Asia who not only make their own bam­boo flutes, they play them in pub­lic to earn a few bucks.

Come to think of it, we’ve met a num­ber of yachties that have gone on to be pro­fes­sional mu­si­cians. Joe Col­pitt of Virgin

Fire is one; his Hot Club groupies are mostly in their 80s—noth­ing wrong with that. Ditto for Bare­foot Davis of Splin­ter

Beach. Coun­try song­writer Gene Nel­son re­tired from Nashville to gunk­hole the In­dian Ocean. His “Eigh­teen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” and “Bubba Hyde” are just a cou­ple of his best­sellers. Cruis­ing World’s own editor-at-large Tim Mur­phy plays all over New Eng­land when not toil­ing on his Pass­port 40 Billy Pil­grim; former editor John Burn­ham plays gui­tar as well.

Dur­ing the ’70s and ’80s, Carolyn and I used to an­chor next to the gaf­fer

Moon in Gus­tavia, St. Barts, and listen to Jimmy Buf­fett teach both Mishka Frith and Heather Nova their mu­si­cal chops. Both boat kids went on to have suc­cess­ful mu­si­cal ca­reers.

Speak­ing of Carolyn, she loves to sing and just re­turned from a month­long shore va­ca­tion to hear some tunes in Austin, Texas, and New Or­leans. Our duet of “Hit the Road, Jack” has brought many a cruis­ers’ party to its feet, and our “I Shall Be Re­leased” ain’t bad ei­ther.

Most ma­rine rock­ers have a sig­na­ture tune they can im­me­di­ately play upon de­mand. The fact is that world cruis­ers, cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tors and long-term live-aboard­ers are ex­tremely self-ac­tu­ated peo­ple. They gulp from a cup that the timid fear to sip. Nu­mer­ous sci­en­tific stud­ies have shown that singing up­lifts both the singer and the au­di­ence. I know it brings a smile to our faces—and to our merry lit­tle band of cruis­ing mu­si­cians who rock the dock wher­ever they sail.

East Coast sailors Sue Holt and Larry Hamil­ton, with ukule­les in hand, are ready to “make some noise” with Fatty (top). Mar­tin Prins wel­comes one and all to the dock jams (above right). Song­writer Lisa Benck­huy­sen pulled to­gether a cruiser tune for Tonga’s Blue­wa­ter Fes­ti­val.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.