Noth­ing helps you learn about peo­ple bet­ter than a boat trip.

THANKS TO A SWIM-PLAT­FORM GRILL, A BEAU­TI­FUL NIGHT, AND A BUNCH OF BUDDIES GATH­ERED ROUND, STRANGE PHENOMENA EMERGE.

Power & Motor Yacht - - CONTENTS - BY CAPT. BILL PIKE

It was a scene I’ve en­joyed since I was a kid. Over­head, a vel­vety car­pet of stars vaulted the heav­ens. Off to the east, a wan­ing gib­bous moon sur­mounted a vast body of wa­ter, in this case Block Is­land’s Great Salt Pond. And to the west? A cheery ar­ray of mast lights, on sail­boats and power­boats alike, nod­ded in the fra­grant dark­ness. There was a fire of sorts at the cen­ter of things, too—a big, red-hot, swim-plat­form-mounted grill presided over by Gary DeSanc­tis, of­fi­cially the gen­eral man­ager of Ac­tive In­ter­est Me­dia’s Ma­rine Group (the power be­hind Power & Mo­to­ry­acht), but un­of­fi­cially our crew’s chief cook and bot­tle washer, with an em­pha­sis on the for­mer des­ig­na­tion (as op­posed to the lat­ter), due to an Ital­ian her­itage with tasty culi­nary sen­si­bil­i­ties. And there were three other guys gath­ered ‘round too, all friends as well as Power & Mo­to­ry­acht col­leagues—Dan Harding, John Turner, and my­self. Ja­son Wood and Si­mon Mur­ray, the re­main­ing staffers on board, were in­side our Beneteau MC5 project boat, dig­ging up six plates and a half-dozen steak knives.

“Shine that thing over here, will ya, Bill,” Gary sug­gested, lean­ing back to get a lit­tle breath­ing room from the heat as I ad­justed the aim of my flash­light. He pointed with a set of bar­be­cue tongs, then bore back in to ju­di­ciously ad­just a cou­ple of Tbones. “Yeah, man, good. Good. Thanks.”

I feel vaguely re­spon­si­ble for what hap­pened next. Per­haps it was some form of drowsi­ness that over­took me—I mean, Jack­son Browne (one of Gary’s fa­vorites, ap­par­ently) had been hyp­not­i­cally dron­ing for hours on the stereo. Or maybe aro­matic fac­tors had af­fected my abil­ity to fo­cus—heck, the beefy per­fumes waft­ing about were enough to be­fud­dle any­body. Or who knows—maybe it was just plain ol’ dreami­ness that did the trick, of the sort that man­i­fests among fel­low trav­el­ers who gather in the dark around a camp­fire. But any­way, for one rea­son or another, I spaced out and let the beam of my flash­light slip from the grill to the swim plat­form’s deck.

“Whoa!” Gary yelled, look­ing down at what my flash­light was now il­lu­mi­nat­ing. We all ze­roed in as well, try­ing to see what had set Gary off—it was Dan’s bare feet! I’d in­ad­ver­tently put them in the spot­light.

“Those things, my friend,” Gary went on, seem­ingly in shock, “are some of the weird­est lookin’ feet I have ever seen on a hu­man be­ing! The toes, man. The toes!”

The plain-spo­ke­ness of the ob­ser­va­tion was per­haps jus­ti­fied. From the very start of our voy­age, all kinds of weird­ness had been creep­ing in. Only the evening be­fore, John had in­ex­pli­ca­bly bro­ken into song, nail­ing ev­ery sin­gle word of “Blinded by the Light” (the long, Spring­field ver­sion) with such full-throated gusto that com­ments from neigh­bor­ing ves­sels ar­rived early the next morn­ing. Then, for the en­tire first day out, Si­mon, just back from the Lol­la­palooza mu­sic fes­ti­val in Chicago, had slept on the sa­lon set­tee with such dis­con­cert­ing depth that his pulse had to be taken, not just once but twice. And even I my­self had slipped the surly bonds of nor­malcy now and again, once go­ing so far as to try blow­ing the doors off a Sea Ray with our Torqeedo-pow­ered Sea Ea­gle ten­der.

“Man,” Gary mut­tered softly, as if just com­ing to grips with a deep and dis­turb­ing truth, “You guys got some very se­ri­ous weird­ness go­ing on here. You know? Very, very se­ri­ous!”

I, for one, deeply ap­pre­ci­ated the com­ment. Af­ter all, it helped con­firm some­thing I’ve be­lieved for years. There’s only one, sure-fire way to get to know ev­ery­thing about your friends, re­la­tions, or col­leagues in a hurry. Get your­self a boat, and take em all cruis­ing for a week!

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