Magazine article The American Conservative

Code of Bushido

Magazine article The American Conservative

Code of Bushido

Article excerpt

I've just had the worst time in my life rubbing shoulders--actually masts--with ghastly ex-Soviet gangsters, now being referred to as oligarchs by the gutter press and the New York Times-Washington Post camorra. There also were towel-wearing Arabs with obscene boats further polluting the French Riviera, but it's the oligarchs playing Commodore Vanderbilt that make the once-fabled south of France stink. Never have I seen such vile people--arrogant, ill-mannered, covered in bling and surrounded by hookers, all showing off their horribly ugly superyachts that look like giant fridges on steroids.

So let's go back to the good old days for a moment. When my first wife left me for being too uxorious, I reacted as most Greeks would. I threatened to kill myself, although the thought never even crossed my mind. But my mother fell for it, and soon my wishes came true with a telephone call from my father. "Your mother is worried about you, but I know you're faking. Nevertheless, go out and buy yourself a boat."

That was 1968. My only regret after accepting my father's generous offer was that I had not thought of threatening suicide before. Ever since the late '50s I had hitched rides on my father's magnificent sailboat, the Aries, or on other elegant sailers like Gianni Agnelli's Agneta or a fellow Greek's one and only three-masted schooner, Creole. Now it was my turn.

After I acquired a 1939 Swedish cutter of rare lineage, beauty, and lines, my first wife hinted that perhaps we could get back together again. For once I acted smart. Who needs a wife when he has a boat? Or, as my old man always said, "He who has a yacht has a different wife every night" My first boat was all mahogany and teak with a flush deck; I thought of her as the Ava Gardner of sailing vessels: difficult, exotic, but with looks that drove other sailors wild. I re-named her Bushido, after the samurai code of the warrior.

"Bushi" as my friends called her, lasted a good 20 years, then was sold off to some conman who turned her into a rental, a bit like pimping out Ava, not the kind of thing a gent would do, n'est-ce pas? After my father's death in 1989, I inherited a triple screw speedster of more than 100 feet (that means she had three engines and three propellers, not what you landlubbers first thought), but that particular Bushido almost broke me after I took her from Greece to the south of France on bunkers alone. …

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