As soon as my father could liberate me from the Costa Rican hospital, he did. The train ride was long and rough back to Punta Arenas and to the boat my parents were building on the beach. It was too long and rough for my mother who had given birth just hours before, but how eager he must have been to see his dream of his family afloat coming together.
We are sailing a friend's leaky vessel up the Pacific coast of Central America. My father's drinking and recklessness surface repeatedly. Fearing for my safety, my mother permanently disembarks.
My father finishes the Mariposa, but he sells her to cover debts.
My father moves onto a boat in a Sausalito, California slip. Sometimes, when jobs are scarce, he anchors in the adjacent Richardson Bay. I live nearby and occasionally work for him, painting or sanding boats. He pays me for my company; I am a lousy apprentice. Helping him deliver a large sailboat, its mast strapped precariously to the deck, no lifelines, I fall overboard. Tapping the superhuman strength of lore, he reaches past miles of freeboard and pulls me onto the deck.
A crossroads moment in my life at 26. I'm sitting with my father in the cramped cabin of his boat eating hard boiled eggs in brown rice. He points to a notice in Latitude 38, "We should put our names on the crew list." I brought the magazine home and sent my information to the publisher. My father did not follow through.
My father passes away in the spring. We scatter his ashes on the water beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.