The Mystery of the GULFSTREAM. . . Solved!
Before departing the States for the wilder shores of Russia, one of my editors laid a task upon me.
"Find the GULFSTREAM," he said.
I told him that as far as I knew it still flowed somewhere off the eastern coast of the US between Florida and New York. I received, for this mot, a fishy editorial stare about which writers have nightmares.
"The GULFSTREAM my friend, (the elision of idiot was loud) is a trimaran which disappeared after a capsize some ten years ago in the Atlantic. The crew was taken off and 60 feet of beautiful multihull floated away mast down and was presumed lost. Start looking in Odessa. It has been rumored that a Russian freighter picked her up and brought her in."
My search was successful. I tracked her down in the old Odessa Yacht Club (Est 1875) afloat but shorn of everything that makes a sailboat sail. Mast, sails, rigging, rudders had been stripped away. She lay in the marina like a lady with a shaven head. Sad.
Her chief function seemed to be a diving platform for some extremely comely Comrades. I sought out the Club Commissar for some details.
It seems that a Soviet merchant ship found GULFSTREAM adrift and derelict. She was hoisted aboard and taken to the ships home port of Odessa as a prize of the sea. It was easily the largest boat in the Odessa YC's fleet and, from time to time, was rigged and sailed in Black Sea waters. The Russians, unfamiliar with such a large and modern tri and unable to get the Dacron which was integral to her design, soon tired of her. She has lain fallow in the yacht harbor for years.
The Commissar was puzzled when I spoke of the 'mystery' of the GULFSTREAM.
"There should be no mystery," he said. "We sought out the owner and offered it back to him for only our out of pocket costs, a mere few thousand rubles. We anticpated his delight in finding again such a noble vessel. But much to our surprise the owner told us that he was too pleased with the insurance settlement to take the boat back since he would have to give most of the settlement money back to the insuring company."
The Commissar thought for a moment and added. "Perhaps the only mystery is one that the owner would like to maintain. No sailor, no real sailor, could love his vessel, especially such a beautiful vessel, so little as to reject a chance to regain her." Communist or no, this commissar had a seaman's sense of love for boat. Some things are common in all of us no matter what our politics.
I considered the GULFSTREAM matter. The owner did not want her. The insurance company did not want her, The Russians were uncomfortable in sailing her and could certainly find a cheaper and more suitable sunbathing platform.
But GULFSTREAM is a beautiful boat, a lilting leaping instrument designed to trick the sea where more pedestrian hulls effort it. Her curves are seductive and her promise of dangerous speed, so attractive in any of her sex, became irrisistable. I wanted her. I lusted in my heart for her. I offered, since no one else seemed to have much interest, to buy her.
"Are you crazy," the Commissar shouted, "we love that boat. She's our pride. I'd rather sell you my wife."
I had met the lady. She was one of the bikinied sunbathers on GULFSTREAM. It was not, I mused, a bad offer.