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The Salty Walt Story

mast and ratlines

Imagine a beautiful California night. No, Northern California; the moonlit air smelling of eucalyptus and sea. A rocky beach. Waves crashing on crags. Four men walking on the beach. Stumbling, climbing over rocks. We've spent the past few hours in a British pub painstakingly reconstructed from its origins in Merry Ol'. Sadly at 10:30 or 11 we've been turned out. There's no where else for us to go, but a walk on the beach.

As often happens with old friends— we talk about old times. Sadly, this is a time when the so-called "Four Horsemen of the Enlightenment" were all maudlin. What we missed, and what we would do differently was a big topic. I can't remember most of what was said, but what is clear to me as that near-midnight air was that there was something that had all brought us together—

—What we all used to do together.

Accusations and blame flew. But there was a sincere desire for things to be better. These men wanted history over drama. Cameraderie over politics. At once they turned on me.

"Why don't you lead a chantey group?"—"Yeah"—"That would Rock!" "If it was you in front I'd follow where ever you led."

—I felt like I was being asked to lead a mutiny. Except the others with me had all been abandoned— marooned from our old group. How few men get offers this sincere. . . I asked them if they'd sing one with me, for old times sake. One of them suggested "Jack Sprat" (as we called "Go To Sea Once More"). I said, "I'm not sure I know it all the way through. . . "

And He who was least confident in his voice, led. And we sang it. In unison. Perfectly. Fast. And the years fell away. And we were all in the perfect place we remembered Faire could be.

When we finished, there was silence. Jon said something like "wow."

I said "OK."

"I'll think about it."