Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Surf's Up!

Okay, Book Blatherers, are you ready for another adventure at sea and more? Allow me to introduce Marshall Lubin who, at age seventeen, embarked on a journey that led to his appropriately titled book, From Boys 2 Men – An Adventure in Paradise. Trust me, it has nothing to do with rapping and everything to do with growing up . . .fast! Welcome to Book Blather, Marshall.

Marshall: Thank you for the opportunity to share my story with your readers.

Marilee: Although my three sons are now adults, I remember what they were like at age seventeen. Did it take some fast-talking to convince your parents to let you take off on this grand adventure?

 Marshall: Not really.  Myself and three other guys that I surfed with on weekends made a plan to go to Hawaii; our dream was to surf the summer months in the islands, after finishing high school.  It wasn’t difficult to talk the folks into allowing us to take off for the summer.  It may have helped that we worked after school, during our senior year, so that we could pay our own way.

Marilee: Your original destination was Hawaii. How did you end up in American Samoa?

Marshall: Our reason for going to Hawaii was to ride 30 foot waves.  We had attended surf    
      movies at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in our high school years.  We watched
      the great surfers of the day riding big waves in the islands and were stoked!  In our
      ignorance, we didn’t know that those waves only arrive during the winter months, the
      result of storms in the Gulf of Alaska.  Grousing about the lack of big waves to
      Samoans we had met on the Oahu, they suggested we go to Samoa, where we could
      ride bigger waves.  They gave us a letter of introduction to their family in Pango. 
      Chuck and I headed south on a reconnaissance mission and we were off on an

Marilee: You say, “An ultimatum from the governor of Samoa pushed you into employment.” If you don’t mind me asking, how did a couple of American teenage boys catch the eye of the governor?

Marshall: We caught the eye of the governor simply because we were two teenage boys in a place where, virtually, no one visited.   In the mid-sixties, Samoa was very primitive.  No hotels, no restaurants, theaters, television, or newspapers.  Tourists didn’t come to Samoa because there was nothing for them to do there (except enjoy the beauty of an unspoiled paradise).  As Caucasians we stuck out and as a 17 & 18 year old, we were certainly an anomaly walking along the shore surrounding the harbor.  The governor was curious what the two of us were doing on ‘his island.’

Marilee: Tell us about your work on board the seventy-eight foot inter-island carrier. Did you have previous experience working on a ship?

Marshall: The Isabel Rose was the answer to the governor’s ultimatum of: “Get a job or get outta town.”  Although she was a piece of junk and barely floating, she gave Chuck and I a job and took us off the governor’s radar screen. 
We had never worked on a boat before.  Our job was painting, chipping rust, helping to fix everything to make this boat seaworthy, and of course, manning the boat during passages throughout the islands.  Unfortunately, she was purchased and run by a con-man who planned to have her laden with cargo and sent to sea.  He over-insured and over-loaded her hoping we would take her to the Marshall Islands from Fiji, a two thousand mile voyage.  The boat would undoubtedly sink, the crew perish, but the owner would enjoy a small fortune from the insurance money.

Marilee: In Fiji, you hooked up with another American and his Tahitian wife who were sailing around the world in their yacht. What happened next?

Marshall: Knowing the Isabel Rose would have foundered had we sailed from Fiji, we abandoned ship in Suva harbor.  We moved ashore into a duplex and partied a lot during the evening hours.  The neighbors, John and Jeanne came over to ask us to, “Quiet down some.”  Surfing on many days with nothing else to do, Chuck and I offered to help John paint and varnish his 56’ yacht in preparation for his departure.  Both of us soon received a deportation notice from the Fijian authorities, as we had entered the country illegally, when we abandoned the Isabel Rose.  John then asked us if we would like to join him on his trip around-the-world?  He explained that he had a charter from the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh to collect butterflies in New Guinea.  That bit of news astounded us.  Plus the fact that we hadn’t heard of New Guinea nor did we know where it was located.  We thought perhaps, Africa?

Marilee:  Please give us a short excerpt from your book and thank you for visiting Book Blather.

Marshall: Having researched the nautical charts, the skipper noted that the main island of New Caledonia was protected from the south by an extensive barrier reef located in relatively shallow water.  In order to make a safe passage through the guardian reef it was decided to stop for the night and pitch camp on one of the many sandy atolls to the south of Grande Terre.  As we approached a relatively large atoll that appeared to provide sufficient protection from wind and surf, the sails were dropped and Charles was sent up the mast to the first spreaders.  From there he could view the underlying reef from a superior vantage point while John motored the boat in close to shore. Given the word, I dropped Pasiano’s anchor fifty yards from the beach.  Once the boat’s anchor had been set, the clutter on deck was cleared and we were ready to go exploring. 
     Charles and I unloaded the dinghy and paddled ashore to scout the small isle.  It was a low-lying sand island that would shelter us from the light evening breeze while providing a peaceful and safe place to sleep.  You see, there were no inhabitants on this tiny, isolated piece of heaven.  It sat in the middle of the South Pacific exposing itself to passing sailors, daring them to come ashore and bask in its virgin glory.  Surrounded by crystal clear eighty two degree water filled with exotic fish, clams and lobster, a seafood feast awaited those who dared to peek beneath the surface of her watery skirt. But these intrepid sailors had other thoughts; dried driftwood was gathered from the beach for a fire and shipboard food was prepared for our evening meal.

     Laughs circulated throughout the group as we decided to call it a night.  Crawling into our sleeping bags, we stared up at the incredible obsidian sky; it had the appearance of a smooth, dark canvas pin-pricked with a million points of light.  Shooting stars ran across the vast void of space. We observed the endless mass of stars, constellations and planets as we lay on our backs searching the heavens; they added to the enjoyment while dispelling any thoughts of solitude or loneliness on our private beach-front camp.  
     We stargazed into the celestial cathedral of heavenly bodies suspended in the inexorable darkness overhead; all highlighted by the stars of the magnificent Southern Cross.  We gazed in awe at the constellations: Corvus, Virgo and the Crab Nebula. It was breathtakingly spectacular, more stars were visible than in any sky we had ever seen.  It was difficult to lie there, on that sandy beach and not be in complete wonderment of the planet we inhabited; its vastness, its complexity and its motherly attitude towards the children that play upon its surface.
     After enjoying the rare view that kept our eyes wide open in astonishment at its infinite beauty, we fell off to an undisturbed slumber on the soft white sand while serenaded by the small waves that broke, not quite silently, on the nearby shore of our host isle.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my work with your readers.  From Boys 2 Men can be purchased  on Amazon and BN.com, in bookstores in San Diego, and ordered through Barnes & Noble book stores.

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