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↑ Vantage pt for Jay Levine at tippity top of crow's nest before he jumped.

Das Boot: the first and perhaps most profound of the Dreamscape categories in that it describes not only the day-to-day adventures of a Caribbean escape, but also a moment that was much of a fulcrum or a rubicon for everyone involved, both a gathering and a dispersal. They were all twenty-four or twenty-five years old, an age where everything in the past seems like prologue and the next turned page is where the story really begins. There was a lot of debate about what comes next: plans hatched, destinies reconsidered. And soon after: Sebastian heading for Brazil, Christoph to Argentina, Helene to New Zealand, our pal Jayson and Natalie both to New York City. And the more we studied these pages, the stronger the urge became to apply allegory and deeper significance to everything that was written. And although 'reality' strongly resists such neat and tidy structuring, nonetheless here it is.

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Das Boot i (26/33)

December 23, 1990

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Last nite, motored from St. Vincent to St. Lucia to arrive at the airport barely 30 mins before Nattie’s departure… During my shift, predictably(?), disaster nearly struck. Mesmerized, by the wheel, surrounded by stars and ocean, and the throbbing diesel beneath me, I had, for some time been eyeing a distant light which seemed fixed, but grew as we continued. I determined that we were, simply, approaching a fixed point. It did, however, appear comprised of more than one luminous element, one of which seemed a distinct shade of green (color which indicates the starboard side of an approaching ship). It seemed outlandishly unlikely that, even were the object to be a ship, we would, in all the vastness of the ocean, cross ways with any proximity. Sebastian emerges from the gloom and studies the light through binoculars. “What is it?” I say.

“I don’t know. But be careful. It maaaay be a ship.” and he disappears back into the cabin. 

Sure enough, within minutes, the lights have diverged, and formed the hull of an approaching vessel. But how big? How fast? Impossible to say. I decide that since it has been generally aiming right at us (this is a mistaken presumption considering the lack of any sign of a red light which, along with the green, would be characteristic of a direct approach), I still will be able to fall off course and cut across her bows without difficulty. Wrong! As I fall off, perhaps so does she, perhaps I just spaz + panic, either way the monstrous hulk (still impossible to determine size or speed or distance away) is still looming right at us. I hiss “Sebastian!” No response. “Sebastian!” Nothing. It is up to me. I fall further off course, still relatively confident I can cross in front of it. Wrong! Looming from the gloom. Huge. Monstrous. Traveling at some absurd speed. Bearing directly down on us. 

“SEBASTIAN!”

He emerges. Bleary eyed. Wild. I say, “What do I do? What is it? Where is it?”

“Which way is it going?” This does not  reassure me, as the ship is obviously heading right at us.

“At us,” I say. “It’s coming right at us. What is it?” We have, at this point, completely abandoned our course, running virtually in the bow-wake of this colosul, mile-high, impossibly wide, yacht-crusher which rises behind our ship with charging fury.

“Hold on.” Sebastian disappears, then emerges, looping his glasses behind his ears.

We abandon all notion of cutting in front, and instead circle entirely out of the path, turning 360° and finally regaining our course behind the tanker which wasn’t so large, but still capable of extensive damage + hardship. So I was certainly at fault for not aiming behind the vessel in the first place (not reading the navigation lights correctly) but I still say it could have happened to anyone, especially someone so ill-versed in nocturnal maritime navigation. And what were the odds of our course crossing so precisely like that. Phenomenally low. 


Image: approaching St. Vincent the first time w/Seb and Nattie, after dark. Sailing. Silent except for the  creak of the masts, the slap of the bow against the waves. The shore is a deeper darkness of hills, speckled with lights of the town. Sebastian says: “imagine approaching armies to a city of the enemy. Conquering, silent approach.” I picture the dark shapes of our large + vicious fleet. The thud + slap of wooden hulls against the water. Strong, confident men w/beards and chipped teeth and blood in their eyes stand on deck, summoning adrenaline for the battle, watching the oblivious lights of the town approach. 

It’s true. And whenever the St. Alamé neared civilization after dark, I’m sure the kids had similar rush. After a week, two weeks, three weeks of sailing the lights, finally, indicating a port.

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