Mysterious Kingdom

by Marin Giustinian


Nowadays, Island of Panaghia Kyra, in the Sporades, Greece

*  *  *

So much has happened this year. Writing helps me keep track, helps me understand and count my blessings. My life changed in almost every way imaginable and all of that happened more or less at the same time. Sometimes it was really confusing!

A little background helps. It's always been a problem figuring out what makes me who I am… I mean deep down inside, for real.

Family : My father and grandfather are from a long line of skilled Venetian bookbinders. They are lords in their trade! If they moved to America, it's because the family's hometown, Venice, had become hell for the dwellers. Life there became way too expensive. All kinds of rich foreigners were buying the houses. Well, it's somewhat the fault of the Venetians too. They were doing the selling. Also, there were too many tourists. Not the well educated, polite visitors who were in wonder with the beauty of Venice, but the crude, rude day visitors coming in by busloads, low-cost planeloads, shiploads, invading the narrow streets in boisterous groups, leaving their trash behind more than their cash. Their gigantic cruise ships clogged the main waterway and even at dock, their monster motors kept on turning, filling the air with crude-oil smoke and all the polluted stench and soot that follows… According to what I've heard, things are even worse now, so maybe it was a blessing that my folks were offered a fortune for the family home and adjacent shop after accepting a very well paid job restoring historical books and doing other binding work in the library of the University of North Carolina. So in 1997, everybody moved to Raleigh and in 1999 I was born. Growing up, I spoke English in kindergarten and then in school, and since I spent a lot of time with my grandparents who came over too, I was speaking Italian with them.

Now to add a little more confusion on me, it's important to say that my mother is French. So my 'mother tongue' is French. She comes from Aix-en-Provence and did her graduate work at the university of Venice. That's where she got her PhD in the History of Art. She's now a professor on the faculty at Saint Mary's School in Raleigh. In fact, it was my father who bound her thesis.

Well, they fell in love and got married. My grandparents on my mother's side still live in Aix-en-Provence. When I was in Junior High, my mother sent me to Aix to go to school. She was scared to death about the school shootings and guns and insecurity in the States. She said I needed to be exposed to the better behaved, European ways of being a teen. So, I lived in with my grandparents. Life was great, but the school wasn't any better than the one in Raleigh, nor were the teenagers. So, they had me come back and I had to repeat my eighth grade. One good thing about all that business was that I came back fluent in French.

I think that's enough said concerning my family background. Now, about me.

I was what you call a "beautiful" boy. That means as I grew up, I became more and more "pretty" — not handsome, but 'pretty' and to top off the problem of my looks, when I was born, I was given the name of Angelo — angel! With my 'angelical', sweet looks, I was teased to death not only by the other boys but also by the girls and when I walked into a room of grown-ups or in the classroom the first day of school, there was a sudden hush. I wanted crawl in a hole somewhere and never come out.

When I went to try out for sports, the coach said he couldn't take me because in case of injury on my 'perfect' face, he would feel responsible. Useless to say that I stayed out of sports — except for swimming. I love the water and I'm crazy about boats — must be the DNA of my ancestors from Venice. Their blood's still throbbing in my veins.

So being mixed up as a kid, I wasn't very bright in school. All I liked was my art classes and of course, they didn't even let me take French. I hated school! I hated the way people looked at me! I hated America and I hated myself!

Up until now, being a first generation, Italo-French mix, I felt like a sort of homeless misfit. Not being fat like most of the kids, nor casual, trendy, prepy etc., I was a real oddball in the States. I felt like a freak. Being such a cultural and linguistic concoction, I felt I was just a nobody floating around in a vast nowhere!

Now, I live with a man on a boat on a Greek island and I'm perfectly fine. So, I figure I was right about being a misfit there and not a misfit here. As a kid, I was just at the wrong time in the wrong place.

Well, I finally got out of high school. It was out of question that I go to college! My mother was appalled, but she's getting over it now… At least I hope so! I just couldn't face the idea of sitting in a classroom a minute longer! I needed to get away, get out of schools, out of the States, out of the imaginary prison I had locked myself in.

The last presidential elections made me even sicker. In North Carolina, I was stuck with the poor morons who elected the rich moron in the White House. I'm now nineteen ; I want to live with people who think and not just react nor 'believe'. I want to be with people who hate guns and strive to make life meaningful without anger, hate or regression. Sure, those people exist in America too, but now they're on the defensive. Power has swung to selfish backwardness and where only the rich count, and if you're not rich, vulgar and aggressive, you're a loser. I can lose about anything… except my dignity!

Europe in not like that — at least, not yet. The advantage for me of being in Europe is that I speak Italian, French and especially English. Second advantage is that I have a French passport. My American one is becoming useless! The advantage of being French are the social rights and full health insurance covering me all over the European Union. I know how to use the right manners at the right time with the right people which lots of Americans know nothing about. People appreciate my looks here, being an angel face in America is only an asset among the effeminate fashion victimes. Here, it's cool with everybody.

I'm also skilled with my hands. I love to draw, do watercolors and work with boats. Talking about boats, I have a special love for classical, wooden boats, but now, here in Europe, it's like in the States. Plastic, ghastly diesel fuel eaters and 'stylish' blow boats dominate the water now. When I was younger, I spent hours in the wooden boat shop in Beaufort while we were on vacations down at Atlantic Beach. The guys there were really cool and they got used to having me around and I learned a lot. They even took me along sailing some and I learned a lot of boat things like knots, handling sails, manning the tiller, etc. just by hanging around. They'd tease me some too, but on a boat, I didn't care.

So, before graduating this past spring, I skyped my grandfather in France telling him I was coming over and asked him if he could me find a summer job somewhere in boats. He said he'd try. He knew a lot of people in the area and, like the typical French, he handled things only by relations. He knew a man who knew the National Park director on Porquerolles Island who knew the director of the port and boatyard and that's how I landed my summer job in paradise.

That got me away from the States and gave me some time to make up my mind about my future. Here I was on a beautiful island for the summer, paid twice as much as if I worked at Walmart, plus tips! I had free room and board, living in a natural, national park, on a Riviera heaven island with beaches, woods, trails and just one little, very neat village. To top it all off, I was totally immersed in the boat world. I worked as the assistant of the guy in charge of cleaning up the facilities, mooring and refueling the boats, operating the crane, etc. It wasn't a big job, but the guy I worked with was really nice and I enjoyed every minute. But above all, it was a wonderful job because it absolutely changed my life!

*  *  *

It was late in the day on September the fourteenth. I'll remember that day all my life! An absolutely gorgeous forty-some foot classical, wooden boat arrived under lateen sail in the port. Two young guys manned her. She was the most beautiful boat I'd ever seen! Her name was Argo and she flew a Maltese ensign with Valletta, Malta written on her stern. I mean she was stunning! The guys were too! I was, excuse my vocabulary, on my ass, awestruck!

The day following their arrival, I noticed that one of the two fellows, the blond-headed one, was with his bags, waiting in line to get on the shuttle boat going to the mainland. The other guy was hanging around with him. At the last minute, they hugged really hard! Then, the blond guy boarded the boat. As it pulled away from the quay, the guys kept on waving at each other and then that was it. I went back to work and kept on wondering about them. I don't know why but it made me sad!

*  *  *

The next day I saw the one left behind leave in the morning with a little backpack and stay gone all day. In the evening he came back and then went into the village, I guessed, to eat. The second day he left again. The following day was my day off. I idled around, went to the beach and towards the end of the afternoon I decided to go make a watercolor of Argo. I had finished the sketch and was starting to fill in thecolors when someone behind me stated, in French with a horrible English accent, "C'est beau."

I replied, "Merci," finishing my brush stroke and then turned my head to look up to see that the guy hovering over me was, in fact, the guy from Argo! Oh my God, I sort of gasped and with my mouth agape, I'm sure I looked like a total halfwit.

He smiled and inquired quite politely, this time with a slight Scottish accent, "English? My French is a total disaster!"

I stuttered, "Sure, no problem. I speak English," and I'm sure I blushed when he flashed me a fantastic, killer smile.

"I've seen you working here. I didn't know you were an accomplished artist to boot."

"I enjoy sketching boats… classical boats, like yours. Argo is yours, isn't she? She's so beautiful! I had to make a painting, imagining her under sail! Do you mind?"

"Yes and no. Yes. She is mine. And no, I don't mind. She's a replica of a classical tartana I had built in Tunisia. She's not even finished inside. Would you like to take a look aboard?"

"YES!" I think I actually barked saying yes…

I took off my loafers and followed him on deck. I thought I was dead and going to paradise. He then suddenly swirled around saying, "Excuse me! I forgot my manners, I'm Blake McCloud from Edinburgh."

He stuck out his hand. I took it and we shook rather vigorously while I smiled back saying, "I'm Angelo Carrara from… from North Carolina."

"Really?"

"Well, yes, more or less from North Carolina," I mumbled, a bit upset. I guess it showed because he was really polite. He dropped the topic, just smiled and started showing me around the boat.

There were a few concessions to modern conveniences aboard : a motor, electric running lights, synthetic sails, wenches, GPS, etc., but the general aspect was that of an elegant, no-nonsense replica of a boat straight out of a nineteenth century painting.

I was curious about the lateen sail rig. He explained to me the ancient origins of the rigging, its advantages and the basics of how it's maneuvered. I was really awestruck about the long fore and aft yard attached to the rather short mast. Also, there was this very suggestive prolongation of the bow stem. It really looked like a cock in erection. I sort of smirked, stifling a giggle when I noticed it. Blake saw me and laughed, giving me an explanation.

"I see you're wondering what that penis-like piece of wood is doing up there. In English it's called a knighthead. Here, it's a phallus."

"Yes, I've noticed that the traditional boats over there on the fishermen's pier have them on the bow, too…"

"It's found mostly on work boats here in the Mediterranean and dates back to the pagan times. An erect cock, more or less obvious, symbolizes power and prosperity. Also, it's supposed to protect the boat from danger. I don't know how, but — why not! After all, Argo's a man's boat and a man and his cock usually get along."

That made me blush some and laugh at he same time!

Blake went on saying, "When I'm under sail seeing the phallus bob up and down, cutting through the waves, it gives me the impression that Argo is really enjoying what 'she' is doing. Here in the Mediterranean, it seems a bit incorrect to say, 'she' for a boat. I know that's the custom in English, but seeing a generous, healthy cock up there, dancing, we should really say, 'he,' to be more coherent."

"I wouldn't mind saying, 'he' at all concerning Argo! If he's enjoying his cock, he's a friend of mine!"

"How right you are, mate! Come on down. Take a look inside, if you want."

The hatch, opening on both sides with double leaf doors led down under deck. They could be propped open for air, space and light. Otherwise, there was only about five and a half feet headroom in the middle, so we had to stay a bit crouched moving around. The living area was just one big open space. Then I saw a magnificent model of Argo fixed on the foreword bulkhead. Blake saw me admiring it and said, "That's the model I found in an antique shop in Barcelona. I showed it to the shipwright in Sfax, Tunisia, telling him that's what I wanted and that's what he made, no other plans involved."

That kind of knowhow still impresses me! It's rare nowadays in our 'progressive' societies. Computers have replaced craftsmen. The problem is that computers don't have hearts and craftsmen do!

On either side, there were cupboards galore. There were three hanging brass kerosene lanterns : two for light and one really bigger lantern with a circular wick which served for light and for heating in the winter, he said. The flush deck above had four ventilation cowls, hence the good fresh air inside.

The galley was a box you could put where you want, either anywhere on deck or inside. It contained the kettle, pots and pans for cooking, a charcoal bracero and a kerosene burner for inside use. The bedding consisted of two rolled up pallet-like mattresses and covers. The fuel and water tanks were in the motor compartment. There was a simple sea water pump beside a fresh water pump up top and the same pair with a hanging bucket and spill funnel amidship beneath. A simple lidded slop jar served for toilets. The whole setup was rather Zen to me! A wide-open loft space! I loved it. It was wonderfully simple, functional and astutely beautiful. Blake told me that he was going to sand and stain-paint white all the wood under deck giving it a delicate hue of pearl grey and add light prisms in the deck to shed rainbow tinted light throughout. That was to be his job this coming fall. I imagined immediately the effect and it made me dream even more!

I was completely under the charm of Argo, and I must say of her owner too. We came back up on deck and he pulled some cold beers out of the icebox.

"Want one?"

Of course, I heartily accepted! We sat on the tiller bench. The sun was shedding it's special early evening light. The colors were vibrant. I felt vibrant too. He then asked,"Tell me some about yourself, Angelo."

I found it really easy to talk to him. It made me feel good inside. He agreed with me that the future's really dim with the way American politics are affecting the whole world, even Europe. I felt free to tell him also about why I was sort of mixed up. He said I was lucky to be so multi-cultural, as he said. I said I guess so, but I was still a bit mixed up. He said that at nineteen, everybody who's halfway intelligent is mixed up!

"What do you mean?" I asked.

He replied, "When I was your age — I'm now thirty-two — I was like you. I had to get away! Since I was quite a party boy, I got hired on the recreation staff of a cruise ship and by the age of twenty-four, I was the king of the discotheque on a very posh, luxury liner. I was more than doubling my generous pay with even more generous tips. Having no expenses, I became simply rich… and sick inside. It was about the most meaningless existence imaginable! Sure, I fucked whomever I wanted and was able to handle any situation, no matter how weird it was, but I felt like shit every morning. I was really mixed up, not about who I was, but about what I was becoming with these people, in their world — Am I boring you?"

"Not at all! I'm just amazed. I mean just overwhelmed that you're expressing such trust in me, telling me all that."

"I think it does us both some good. Am I right?"

"I guess so…"

There was a lull in the conversation.

"Listen, I'm going out to eat now. Please feel free to stop by whenever you can. If I'm on board, you're welcome too. Some good company is always a treat! When you finish your painting, I really would be honored to see it. Promise?"

"Sure, Blake, I promise! Good evening, enjoy your meal… and thanks for having me aboard. It's been great meeting you."

He just smiled and showed me to the gangway. I went back to my quarters, walking on a cloud — I'm about to write a very bad play on words — I was dancing on a McCloud! Ouch! That's really bad, but I don't care!

No joking. After supper in our little canteen, I went for a walk and then directly up to my bunk. I had problems going to sleep. In my mind I wandered all over the boat again… and again and again and the more I wandered, the more Blake's smile popped up in my mind. There was something magnetic about him… his eyes, his smile, his ways. I don't know. I'd never come across a guy like him.

*  *  *

The next morning, I felt really happy going about my work. As Blake walked down the pier, he waved at me, shouting, never stopping, "Good morning, Angelo! See you later!"

Was that an invitation? He did say I could call in anytime I wanted. I wanted to call in all the time! So that evening, after dinner, I went over to Argo and gently knocked on the hull.

"If that's you, Angelo, come aboard!" he yelled from below.

I took off my shoes and went up the gangplank. He met me on deck with just a pair of shorts on.

"Good evening, Blake. Everything's fine with you, I hope…"

"And with you too, Angelo. Nice of you to drop in! What'll it be? Beer or beer?"

"Ha! I guess I'll have a… a beer."

"Make yourself at home. I'll be right back."

He dropped back down through the hatch. I sat on the bench by the tiller. He came up with the beers and a T-shirt on and sat down beside me.

"So, I suppose you didn't you get enough of Argo last night. Am I right?"

"Well, to be frank, I do have a few more questions… that is, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Cheers," he said as he raised his beer bottle, "Why should I mind? What do you want to know?" he pursued. Then taking a long swig, he leaned back on the gunwale.

"Can you explain why Argo flies a Maltese ensign?"

"Never been to Malta, but it's easy to get Maltese registration. No taxes, no bother. It's just a flag of convenience — and it's a really beautiful flag too."

"Could you tell me more about how you had her built and how is it that you came here?"

"Sure! First of all, I'll answer about how and why I had her built. As I said, I worked on a cruise ship. When we made a call in Barcelona — that was a little more than two years ago — I was enjoying some time off by myself, just to get away from being Mister Always-Nice to everybody. While wandering around in the Gothic quarter, I came across a little antique shop. The model you saw down beneath was in the window. It was as if I were struck by a thunderbolt! I had to own it! — So I bought it and brought it back to my cabin, not really knowing why. I had no home and it was a bit cumbersome in a cabin onboard or in a cheap hotel room…"

He took another swig, turned to me and continued, "I feel like it's going to be long… You got the time, mate?"

"Take all the time you want, Blake. I love listening to you! Carry on! Please!"

He smiled at me again, making me melt a little more. His face was dimly lit only by the lights on the pier. The moon was a bit under three quarters full. He went on telling me that he named his model boat after the boat in the Odysseus, Argo. He said the more he looked at the model, less he was able to put up with his job. He was sick of entertaining and satisfying people who expected miracles because they had paid and wanted attention for their money's worth.

"Sick mentality," he uttered.

He took another swig of his beer, stared some at the sky and continued, "So I decided to resign. I gave my three months notice. I had six more week-long cruises to do, but knowing that would be the end, I was very cool about it! Once the job was over, I cashed in my bonuses. Having accumulated some very substantial savings, I was rich, free and ready to live another life! I wrapped up my model, packed my bags, got in a taxi and away I went, never turning back, light as a feather in the breeze! It was wonderful.

In the lobby of my small hotel in downtown Nice, there was a poster concerning a Lateen Sail Festival going on in Saint-Tropez. I had to go. I felt like Argo compelled me to go. So, I rented a car and drove there.

I was overwhelmed! There were lateen sails everywhere! The boats, big and small, under sail on the Gulf, were absolutely breathtaking. I knew then that sailing such a boat was what I wanted to do with my life! I made up my mind to make Argo become a real boat, a full fledged Tartana, and sail the seven seas with her… It was an evidence I couldn't avoid!"

He then told me that he struck up conversation with a guy who knew that lateen rigged boats were still being built in Tunisia. He went to Tunisia, found a shipwright in Sfax, spent a year and a half, living like a monk and learning all that was needed : handling lateen sails, navigating with a sextant, security, mechanics, meteorology and you name it. In a year and two months, Argo was built and equipped. She was a perfect example of the traditional, thousand years old knowhow in marine construction complemented with the modern aids for comfortable, secure sailing. When the last kinks were ironed out, he insured Argo, hired a local boy, Mustafa, to man it with him and they were in Saint-Tropez just in time for the festival. Argo was the star that year!

"You know, Angelo, on the water with this kind of a boat, you only meet the best kind of people. Assholes in their expensive toys don't give you the time of day, but real lovers of beauty are drawn to you like bees to gardenias. While I was in Saint-Tropez, a young German fellow came up — sort of like you did — and we started talking. He was a student and had the summer off. One thing led to another. Mustafa wanted to go back home and Matthias, the German mate, wanted to sail with me until his courses began in Berlin. Matthias took Mustafa's place and we decided to try doing day-charters together. We went on the other side of the gulf to Sainte-Maxime. There was a space available on the dockside where people come for a walk. With just a sign on the bow of the boat, it worked! We made scads of money. When Matthias' deadline was nearing, I asked him to sail with me to Porquerolles. I had heard a lot about the island and I wanted to lay over here and see what would come up next. That answers your second question."

"I saw you two as he was going to leave. He looked like he was really sad to go."

"We were both sad! But, when you've got to go, you got to go! He was a wonderful bloke, a great mate! I was almost having gay feelings about him. He admitted at the last minute that he felt it too. It just didn't happen. I guess neither of us had the balls to dare!"

"Dare?"

"Yes, dare being true to what you feel, regardless of what society has to say… Well, that's over now… and you showed up! Ha! Another beer?"

"Why not? I don't want to drink you dry, but…"

"Angelo, listen, that's one more beer I won't drink by myself! Excuse me, but I've really got to pee before downing it though! By the way, if you need to take a leak too, matey, don't be bashful!"

He stood, turned his back to the pier and peed overboard. That triggered me and there I stood beside him as we pissed together, giggling like school kids.

"Wow that feels better! Be right back."

I sat back down, this time Indian style, cross-legged on the deck. I felt elated. The beer helped but the whole situation was so perfect, almost familiar like. I could have been in a movie. I guess dreams do come true, especially those you don't remember dreaming.

When Blake came back up, he sat down facing me, cross-legged on the deck too. We clinked our beers together, looking straight into each other's eyes. I'm really not bold at all! But then, we smiled and I just blurted out, "I'm having a great time, Blake! Thank you so very, very much!"

"My pleasure, man. I'm fine too! It's really cool being here with you!"

I must have still been blushing before I dared ask, "And what are your plans now?"

"I have plans to have no plans for a while. I love this place. I love to stroll in the woods, swim in the coves, dine at my favorite restaurant in town, the Pelagos. But to be honest with you, mate, I'm letting a deeper idea take time to grow in my mind. I really loved doing the day-charters with Matthias. It does a lot of good to people to live the 'Argo Experience'. You can't imagine the way people open up while under sail onboard. They sort of leave their fears and problems behind and reveal themselves. No drama, no carrying on like the guys do on cruise ships. Most of those who come on cruise ships pay to meet up with others, party and hope to fuck. When they pay to come on Argo, they pay to give themselves a time for essentials. They don't know it, but that's what Argo does to them. Argo IS essential, no chi-chi, no frills, no nonsense… just the luxury of simplicity."

That rung a big bell in my head! 'The Luxury of Simplicity'! Wow!

He went on saying that he wanted to be a kind of sea gypsy, doing day-charters in the summer and taking time to live for himself in the winter.

"But, you see, Angelo, there's a problem. I can get along with Argo, under motor, by myself, but under sail, we have to be two — and to qualify as a sailmate and partner on Argo, there are conditions."

"What are those conditions, Blake?"

"Interested?"

"Maybe."

"Well, first of all, the shipmate must be a 'he' and not a 'she'. Ha! For that part you qualify, but just being a 'he' isn't enough. He can't be just any kind of a 'he'. He's got to be refined, honest, easy to live with, smell good and nice to look at. You qualify for that too… But, you know, these are really small quarters, so harmony is vital! Moreover, he must never be someone with problems! He's got to be a damn good sailor and enjoy sailing, never minding getting wet. He mustn't go berserk and shit in his frock when really bad weather hits… He's got to be free, fun and fundamentally friendly and generally not fucked up with personal problems!"

"I'm interested."

"Really? Wait! The guy has to pay his own way, too. He gets a cut on the day-charters, but I've got to pay for the upkeep of the boat. I can't afford to hire a guy like I did with Mustafa and, above all, I hate being the boss. It's not in my genes. We've got to be independent and share our time and energy and life with each other, without depending on each other. Instead of depending on each other, we've got to replace dependance with trust — no dependance, just trust and loyalty. In other words, I'm waiting for an angel."

"I've got some money. I'll be free at the end of next week, and you know my name's Angelo — angel in Italian — Blake, I'm still interested."

"But you're an American. What about visas and insurance and things like that?"

"I've got a French passport too. I'm both legally both French and American. I have all the social protection and medical insurance that the French have. You'd just have to sign me on as 'au pair' and I'm covered. That costs nothing for you. As for my folks, they want me to do what I feel — as long as I feel it really deep inside. I feel what you're saying really deep. So I'm free, man! Free like you! Yes, I'm interested."

 "Wow, kid, you do come on hard! Ease up some. Let me think about it. Come back tomorrow and we'll see. How does that sound to you?"

"Sounds great, Blake! Guess that means it's time for me to go."

"Correct."

"Thanks again for everything! See you tomorrow. Same hour?"

"Same hour…"

As I strode back to my bunkhouse, I felt a surge of energy like I had never felt before. I felt sure of myself! I felt bold, strong, right and ready, ready to dare live my life as it was meant to be lived, free and with meaning. Argo was my chance! I was dead sure he'd take me on. I felt that we meant to dream together!

As I was pulling my shorts off, I nearly collapsed on my bed. I was dead tired. There was just one hard problem. My cock just wouldn't go soft!

*  *  *

The next morning, I was cleaning the toilets and didn't see him leave. I had some time off in the afternoon. I went and finished my watercolor and decided to take it with me that evening. After dinner, I went over to Argo and knocked. No answer. So I sat on the edge of the pier and decided to wait. As I was looking down at the water, Blake came up and startled me by putting his hand on my back.

"How are you, Angelo? Have a good day?"

I scrambled to my feet and said, "Yes I did," and showing him my painting, "I finished this for you!"

"Trying to bribe me?"

"Yes!"

"I like to be bribed! Come onboard. I want to take a better look at it. We've got some talking to do."

I was so excited! We went aboard. He asked me to come down and talk in the living quarters. He lit the lanterns. The soft light was wonderful. The starlit sky through the open hatch made it feel like heaven itself was flowing into the boat. He looked at my painting and congratulated me. I blushed and said, "Thanks! The proportions are fine, but I've still got to work more on my technique."

"Yes you do. Beer or wine?"

"Wine?"

"Yes, I bought a bottle, claimed to be the best wine on the island. I think we're going to have to celebrate…"

"Really!" I screamed, "Wine, then, of course, Blake!"

He didn't hurry at all. He took two stem glasses out of the cupboard, uncorked and poured the wine. He kneeled and then sat on the cushions facing me. The lantern light glowed in the deep scarlet in his glass as he lifted it, proposing that I lift mine, too.

"Here's to Argo and her new mate aboard… if he's 'still interested' that is… and that he succeeds the trial runs we still have to do on water!"

"I still am and I'll pass the tryouts!"

"Cheers!"

Our glasses clinked and we drank. I felt like I was drinking holy blood. As I swallowed, It sealed my fate! It was delicious!

"So, how do you feel now, Angelo?"

"All I feel now, Blake, is… all I feel is beauty! This wine is beautiful, the night is beautiful, you are beautiful, Argo is beautiful, life is beautiful and I'm happy… and a bit excited about the future."

"What's beautiful is natural. What's ugly is beauty thwarted by human doings. So, let's talk about a beautifully natural future then!"

He asked me if I had a day off. I said yes, Mondays. He then said we'll go sailing Monday. We went through a lot of details concerning my coming aboard, my legal situation, all those things you have to think about and comply with to be really free from authorities, from stupidity and avoid useless problems. He took my hands and looked at them. He said I needed gloves and that little by little I'd build up hands like his, strong and rough inside. I made a mental note to buy gloves. He even asked when was the last time I saw a dentist. We went through all that and then he asked the real question, "And, how do you feel about me, Angelo?"

I thought a few seconds and decided to be direct. I simply replied, "I feel good about you, Blake. I trust you. I feel like I'm more myself when we're together…"

"I'm sure you're wondering what I feel about you, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"So why don't you ask me, then?"

I felt like a moron. I gulped and uttered, "How do you feel about me, Blake?"

Blake beamed, looked at me in the eyes and stated, "You make me feel good too, Angelo. Welcome aboard."

He rose and stood under the hatch, his head above deck. He held out his arms inviting me to come. I rose and joined him. The outside air was fresh, the breeze felt good on my face. It was as if our heads were in the stars and our bodies, still deep inside Argo. We hugged. He held me a little longer than a hug usually goes. I felt his heart beat, I was a bit tense. Our sexes were pressed together and mine was a bit plump, I admit. Then, still holding me by the shoulders, we looked at each other, smiling. Our lips were a bit purple from the wine.

"You know, Angelo, a hug must last at least twenty seconds in order for the energy to settle between us. If it's just a fast squeeze, patting backs or ridiculous things like that, it's making a beautiful hug become an ugly travesty. Let's hug again and then we'll finish the wine."

We hugged more than twenty-seconds. I could actually feel myself melting. It was really beautiful. My cheek was against his. I looked up over his shoulder at the rising moon. The scent of his hair smelled like the sea in the sun. My cock was now hard. So was his. It was beautiful. It was natural.

*  *  *

The next day, I crossed Blake. He said he had to go the mainland for I don't know what. He said he would be gone overnight and that I should come onboard to familiarize myself with everything as much as I wanted. He actually asked me to take a long look into the motor compartment. So I went aboard during my lunch break and did just that.

The motor was a Dutch made Vetus, a plain, basic 42 HP diesel. I was familiar with it having already serviced a boat with one during the month. The compartment was narrow but being thin and limber, I got around easily. I even checked the oil. Really black, needed changing as well as the filter.

I peeked into every cupboard, checked all the ropes and lines and took a look at the electric panel. Not much to that, only running lights, compass and starter for the motor as well as a plug for charging phones, GPS, computers and such.

Everything was conform to my first impression of simplicity. Even Blake's clothing. I took a sniff of his cologne. It was French, a fragrance I didn't know. Miller et Bertaux, Spiritus/Land. It was heavenly, sort of like incense, wonderful and natural. There was a good collection of charts of the central and eastern Mediterranean. His books were mostly about sailing and navigation. There were some about massage, oriental philosophy and an atlas of the sky. Little by little I got the feeling that I knew Blake and what I knew, I loved.

I went back on the job. Tht evening after dinner, I went for a long walk. All the information I'd accumulated over the past week started to seep in. Blake's a very clever man. He's very discreet and open at the same time. Getting to know his boat was getting to know him too. What a gift he gave me by inviting me to nose in on his private space. He knew I would be sharing it. I thought it was not only a gift but also a damn good move for me to learn with whom I was going to live, sail and… whatever!

Four more days to Monday! God does time drag in such cases!

*  *  *

Monday at last! The feeling of leaving the harbor and entering the open sea is always a thrilling experience. As we left the port behind with all its comfort, I felt that I was entering a new, limitless dimension of freedom.

Blake had already briefed me on how to hoist the yard and trim the sail, then the jib up front, running it out on the long bowsprit and setting the sheet. Doing it for real was something else! I tugged and I pulled and I finished by getting everything in place and secure for Blake to bear away. When he did, the sails suddenly filled up in all their sculptural splendor. Argo heeled a bit and suddenly there was silence, no motor. All you could hear was the hiss of the water streaming alongside the hull and a dull, melodic hum in the rigging. We were under sail!

"Not bad for a first time, Angelo. When that has to be done in a stiff wind with Argo heaving in the waves, you'll see that your swiftness and agility count. Now you're thinking about what you're doing. Later, you'll have to do it by reflex, just like you did when you learned how to drive or use a smartphone."

"I see what you mean!"

"Now come back here and take the tiller. We're going to go through the drill of tacking upwind."

My God, I thought he was really going too fast with me but I tried to not let it show. The tiller felt good in my hand. I noticed that the end was slightly sculptured like a cock too. I smiled as I looked at the knighthead gripping another phallus. Things were really male oriented aboard. Argo is very… very organic and delightfully 'cocky'!

Blake came up beside me and he briefed me on the process of going upwind, heaving on the other tack, changing the sheets, trimming and picking up speed again. He took over the tiller and sent me to handle the jib and the yard when we swung around. If the wind permits, somebody has to go up to the mast and accompany the yard around to the other side. If the wind is too strong, we just have to navigate with the sail against the mast. It's not top, but that's the way it is.Thank goodness there are wenches to harden the sheets. I was getting better with each tack.

We then started moving little by little downwind and adjusting the sheets. When it blew directly perpendicular to the boat, on broad reach, we were flying. Little by little we eased more downwind and then came the anxiety of having to gybe! With our lateen rig, we had to swing the yard again, but it wasn't too hard this time. It was good to have accomplished the whole rotation!

All those maneuvers sapped my energy but at the same time I felt completely alert. Blake gave me a shoulder hug and said he was proud of me. With time, he said he felt we would make a great crew, a real twosome-team ready to sail anywhere. Of course, I was in seventh heaven!

"Now that we've done our basics, let's sail some!" exclaimed Blake.

I knew I still had a lot to learn : more knots, navigation with a sextant, anchoring, cooking and I could go on for ages. Blake kept saying, with time… so we've got time! What a treasure! When we rounded the point of the island and headed out to sea, the immensity of the horizon awestruck me. That's my new home, I said to myself. I'm so lucky!

We returned to the port just before sunset. We tied up, and while we were straightening up Argo, Blake said, "I'm inviting you to dinner in town. We've still got some talking to do."

"Wow, thanks a lot. Let me go shower down. Where do we meet?"

"At the Pelagos in an hour, mate. If I'm not yet there, just ask for McCloud's table."

*  *  *

I showered and shaved and put on my best beach casuals. When I showed up, Blake wasn't there so I asked for 'la table McCloud'. I must have waited no more than five minutes when he appeared, handsome as ever, in faded jeans and a lightweight, pinkish cotton sailor's smock. He still hadn't shaved, but his scent was delightful with a dash Spiritus/Land. Wow, 'la Classe'!

We went through a wonderful fish meal and a bottle of white wine, then came the verdict.

"Listen, Angelo, I like you a lot, I like your style, I like your attentiveness. I think we can make a longer tryout. But let's be clear. I don't want a contract. If we don't make it off together, we'll have to say so and you'll have to take a graceful leave, being sure, of course, to not put one or the other in trouble. I'll be frank and honest with you and it's not because I'm twelve years older than you that you can't do so with me. Is that clear? Our relationship has to be as clean and as shipshape as Argo. Do you agree?"

"Totally."

"Good. The day after your last day of work, you'll move in with me, but not unpack. We'll go on another little cruise just to get us tuned together and see if you really qualify. It might take us two or three days before leaving Porquerolles for good. When and if we leave for the big trip, you must take care of your personal things immediately. You've got to notify your parents and friends of your decision. They must know that you'll be 'off line' while at sea. No Facebook, no smartphone, no e-mails. You can only give and get messages while we're on a call somewhere. You must handle your banking too so that you have available cash whenever needed. You must notify also your health insurance that you'll be cruising in the European Community. At any rate, we'll manage things as they show up."

"Listen, Blake, if there's anything I like better than clarity is frankness. You ring my bell. I've no doubt about myself, even less about you. My only problem now is how to live through the next five days. I'm dying of impatience!"

"Ha! That's your problem, mate. Visits on Argo should help pass the spare hours, don't you think. I'd like to see how you cook… Ha!"

"And I'd like to see how you make a meal yourself!"

"Well, why don't you come and dine aboard with me tomorrow?"

"You've got a date!"

*  *  *

The next five days went by in a flash! Blake's meal was great. The day after was my turn. Let's say my pasta was edible. At least he didn't throw up eating my dinner. I do wish I had learned more from my grandmothers. I asked around for recipes with my co-workers. They laughed, saying that they knew nothing about cooking. As Blake said, I'll learn.

I called my grandparents in Aix and told them that I was going on a cruise with a friend I'd made at work. I already had an account with the Banque Postale for my pay check and some of my savings from America I had transferred. I had a Visa card valid for two more years. I had enough money for a while yet. Anticipating my being considered a mate on Argo, I talked to the lady in Toulon concerning my health insurance and a job status 'au pair'. She sent me an international attestation by mail and a simple form for Blake to fill in as captain on board. I printed both out at the harbor master's office.

I was more than ready. I packed and unpacked at least four times, choosing what to take, what to throw away, what to give. Just to give my arrival a touch of class, I wanted to show up on Argo with just one seabag.

My last day of work was fun. At lunch, my colleagues gave me a little present : a sailor's cookbook. I hugged everybody, went to say goodbye to the accountant then to the boss, endorsed my pay check and deposited it, handed over my house and locker key and away I went. I almost ran down the pier to Argo. Blake greeted me on deck as I climbed the gangway. We hugged, never saying a word. Dinner was ready. I was too.

*  *  *

Blake gave me a pallet and a cover. I did the dishes and we finished the evening on deck with a couple of beers. I really felt at home. As my excitement fell, my eyelids did too. I yawned. Blake smiled.

"Bedtime for you, Angelo. Tomorrow is going to be a big, big day!"

"Good night, Blake. I'll be ready and in shape! Promise!"

It seemed like I had just gone to bed when Blake came by, rubbed my shoulder saying, "Coffee's ready! Time to get up. We've got some sailing to do!"

Wow, did I sleep fast! The sun wasn't yet up. I stuck my head out of the hatch. Nobody in view. I scrambled up on deck, peed overboard, washed my face and privates and pulled on my shorts and T-shirt and joined Blake. He had made us a good, hearty Scottish breakfast with eggs and all.

I finished the dishes as Blake warmed up the motor and prepared us for the departure. The wind was a little brisker than the other day. I got the sails up without any (major) problem and we were underway for a cruise behind the island, then over to the neighboring island of Port Cros. I was glad to hear that we would make a call there in the little port and tiny village before going on to anchor in a secluded cove on the eastern side. The rising sun met us as we rounded the western point of Porquerolles and headed east.

It was around ten thirty when we tied up at the end of the pier on Port Cros. That was when Blake blew my mind. I immediately knew he was putting me to a test when he said, "Angelo, while we're here I want you to change the oil and oil filter. When the motor is cool enough, you can start. The tools, oil, pan, new filter and so on are in the motor compartment. I've got some people to see ashore. I'll be back around one o'clock with sandwiches. See you later."

"Yeah, Blake, see you later…"

I opened up the motor compartment and let it air out. I then stripped off my T-shirt and crawled down into the heat and stink. I didn't hurry, saying to myself, "The oil does need changing… but why here? Sure, I'm going to do it, and even polish off the motor just to surprise Blake's balls off when he gets back!"

I changed the oil and the filter and changed the air filter too. I got some rags and cleaned off the motor, making it shine like new. I had just finished when I heard Blake come back onboard.

The motor was immaculate but I was filthy, sweaty and hungry.

"How did it go, mate?"

"Fine, take a look at the motor…"

"My God, looks like a jewel. And the used oil?"

"In the old can over there. I'll put in the waste bin and shower before we eat… As you can see, I'm a bit grimy, to say the least!"

"Grab a bucket and some salt water gel and shampoo. You'll bucket-shower yourself on deck and rinse off with fresh water. There aren't any showers over here."

Shit! I was a bit nervous to say the least.

"Do I just strip here on deck or what?"

"Why not?"

Damn it! He's right! Why not? Then it suddenly dawned on me that he was giving me in advance the treatment we would have to go through at anchor somewhere in an isolated island. Changing the motor oil is the worst thing that has to be done on a boat and I did it. The rest will be easy! Experience is the best master! This was an experience!

I enjoyed my shower. Blake came back from discarding the used oil and filter and even scrubbed my back. After pouring a few buckets of sea water on me to rinse off the gel, I then indulged in a lavish fresh water rinsing. My skin glowed. My soul did too. Those sandwiches were great!

After that, we left the village harbor and sailed around the western tip and headed out to sea. The wind was exhilarating and driving us well along. We picked up speed. Argo was splitting the waves, bucking and heeling. I understood the cock on the bow! I nearly jacked the tiller, my jaws almost cramping for having smiled so much! The island floated on the azure surface of the sea. The slanting sun cast our shadow before us. Little by little, Levant Island appeared as we rounded north to go into a sheltered anchorage called Port Man. I knew that Port Man was the French name and had nothing to do with 'man' in English, but I was happy to spend our night in a place called Man anyhow. I'd never felt so much a Man as I did then.

We struck the sails. The motor purred as we entered the little bay. There was just one other boat at anchor over on the north side. We went opposite, nearing the beach and dropped anchor for the night.

"This has been wonderful, Blake!"

"Even changing the oil and washing in sea water."

"I understood why you wanted me to go through that. As you say, 'I'm learning' and you're a very gentle mentor. I'm lucky to be here, now, with you…"

"Me too, Angelo. I'm lucky. Let's whip up some more pasta. While we simmer an unbelievably delicious sauce, I'll open another bottle of our red wine for a lazy happy hour. Do you think it's a good idea, mate?"

"A very good idea… mate!"

*  *  *

The pasta was unbelievable! So was the wine… especially after two glasses. After dinner, we got involved in a deeply interesting discussion again.

"For me, Angelo, living aboard Argo, sailing 'him' here in the very waters of his origins, is like living in a work of art… like being a work of art."

 "I think I feel what you mean. Please carry on. I want to understand all!"

"Sure. I grew up in a very conservative, hypocritical family where everybody acted like they thought they should act, never speaking their minds, never being really sincere, always saying such and such a thing is evil, or sinful or simply unhealthy. For my father, everything boiled down to right or wrong, good or bad. So when my teen years hit me, I said to myself, like every teen should say, 'Fuck morals!' So I partied, I fucked, being good looking, it was easy… but I've never made love."

He looked down over the water, sighed, looked back at me with a slight smile and went on talking to me and mostly to himself.

"I drank but, thank God! never got hooked on drugs. I had decided that good and evil didn't exist. Things were either fun or boring. I took nothing else into consideration. Later on, working as Mister Jolly-Fun-Man on those stupid cruise ships, I realized that everything around me, in me, was honky-tonk, Trump-gold, fake! The decoration onboard seemed totally garish, the lame, stylish looks of the clients, all body-builded magazine clones and whorish Barbies trying real hard to look beautiful… it was revolting! All those losers loaded with cash!"

He stood, paced around some and exclaimed, "Their ideal doesn't work! It's ugly! That kind of 'beauty' is just a travesty trying to mask emptiness, void, dispair! That's the state I was in when I came across the model of Argo in the shop window. It was not only beautiful to the eye but something else transpired beauty. There was elegance. There was simplicity. It was something truly authentic. Yes! Authentic! That's the big, dirty word that blows your mind when you think too much about it."

He sat back down, closer to me this time.

"Am I 'authentic', really true to myself? Was I living in an 'authentic' world? That was the big question. Authenticity suddenly appeared to me as being the only really natural virtue along with sincerity. From there, I felt the need of beauty… authentic, sincere BEAUTY. I needed the beauty of true relationships, of compassion, of honesty. Even if I don't know what that means for real, I needed the beauty of love… Those are things that morals try to promote, but they only succeed by proving to you that it's impossible to achieve happiness without Godliness, doctrine and other bullshit. Beauty has nothing to do with all that blah-blah!"

He put his hand on my knee, squeezing it.

"We must simply discover that beauty, like love, any love, is nature's true intention."

He released the grip on my knee.

"Sin, selfishness, crime, all that shit is ugly of course. But virtue, if you say it's the opposite of sin, isn't really beautiful. In fact, it's even uglier because it's hypocritical! Real beauty is beautiful because there's deeper virtue involved. I'm not talking about 'pretty' things, nor 'stylish' things. That kind of commercial beauty sells well to the gullible because advertising says it's beautiful, aggressive, seductive and all that crap. Just take a look at the boats, cars, people around we cross on the coast, in discotheques, in marinas. Beauty isn't something you buy. You have to make beauty happen by recognizing it when and where it is, like this very moment, mate! Just look at the rising full moon over there on the water… "

I thought I would cry listening to Blake emptying his bucket, spilling his soul for me. I felt he was glad to share his thoughts too. I was, above all, glad to think that he thought I was worthy to hear them.

I sort of stuttered when I softly uttered, "I'm glad, Blake, to try to become a part of your work of art."

"If that's the case, my dear Angelo, don't say 'Your' work of art. Say, 'Our' work of art. Things change because you are 'You' and I am 'Me' and that makes together an 'Us'."

He stood again.

"Angelo, authentic beauty is our only power."

He came closer saying, "You are not only a beautiful young man. You are a beautiful person, Angelo. Your energy is clear. We must strive to be coherent with the beauty we all have… with the beauty we all are, deep down inside."

I dared reach out and touch his shoulder saying, "You and Argo are perfectly coherent, Blake. The way you dress, the way you smell, the way you act… everything fits in. Argo is your mirror. I know Argo's beauty comes from the past. You didn't invent him. You found him in a small model and made him come to full-sized life again. You linked yourself to the essential origins of your own, limpid desire! That is what I call authentic creation. I'm learning my lesson, Blake."

I then stepped back, spun aroung laughing a little and stated," I've got to change my way of dressing to be coherent with you, man!" 

"Ha! You're damn right to bring us back to concrete reality, mate! You realize, I hope, that our good looks, wrapped up in very plain but elegant attire, associated with a very shipshape Argo… Well, all that draws the good attention we need to succeed in day-charter. Our kind of beauty isn't just beautiful. It's security!"

"I see what you mean. Coherence and authenticity are money making assets, too!"

"Absolutely."

He stretched, leaned on the gunwale and almost whispered, "Tonight is a beautiful night, Angelo. The moon will soon spill its silver on the water… How about a skinny-dip, mate!"

We shucked our shorts in a flash, whipped off our tops and dove overboard. The bluish fluorescence found in the sea during the late summer season covered our bodies making our skin and hair, pits, pubes and legs glow as we rollicked in the tepid water.

"Wow, Blake! We're gleaming!" 

"It's the sea having fun with us! It's the light of night."

After a little while like that, we scrambled up the anchor chain and once back on deck, under the full moon, we simply hugged, all drippy and slippery.

I kissed Blake in the neck. I licked my lips, "Wow, Blake, you taste great!"

"Let's rinse off anyway!"

We jacked the pump and splashed each with the fresh, gushing water. Awkwardly reaching for the bucket, I lost balance and fell flat on my ass. Blake dove down on me, laughing, pinning me as I writhed. We play-wrestled a little, slipping and sliding on each other, reveling in our naked antics. Then, without warning, seizing each other's head, our mouths met in a very fervent kiss. One kiss led to another and little by little we were rolling over each other, licking, kissing, kneading flesh, humping and entangling ourselves together until we were completely topsy-turvy.

Nothing more was said. We held our breath, holding each other's buttocks, breathing in sync, mouth to sex, both cocks throbbing, drooling, yearning to be sucked, we sucked and sucked and were sucked to the hilt, humming, twirling our tongues around our swollen glans.

Our male urgency spiraled as we bonded in the most natural connexion two men can embody.
Our cocks dancing, jerking, we moaned and shuttered. All of our built up lust exploded like fireworks, filling our mouths and throats with our young, sweet cum. We both were swallowing, almost retching, drooling in the fabulously mind-blasting, orgasmic confusion of two hearts fusing into one.

The moon bathed our entwined bodies in a halo of silvery radiance. I was the one who started giggling at first, giggling from release and pure glee. Blake joined in and muttered, "You're really good at that, Angelo! That's my first!"

"No way! Mine too!"

"You're kidding!"

We both guffawed, then calmed down a little and sat smiling at each other, becoming aware that everything had changed, that nothing was as before, that beauty had led us there, together.

"So, I guess we're learning then…" said Blake almost solemnly.

"I guess we are."

"Angelo, tonight, you move your pallet over to mine. Let's tie them together. There's no longer any sense of us sleeping apart now, is there?"

"No, Blake, none whatsoever."

*  *  *

The following morning, we woke, holding each other. As much as our jubilation of the precedent night was precipitated and basic, our caresses in the lazy summer's dawning, down in the shady under-deck of Argo were calm and voluptuous. Sprawled on the bedding, the overhead hatch open, we gazed at the indolent swaying of the rigging against the pale pink and blue sky announcing the sunrise.

"Want to learn some more, Blake?"

He said nothing, just rolled over on me and gave me a lingering, eloquent kiss. I kissed him back and slowly we covered each other. In an almost methodical way, we took our time, tenderly smiling, slyly sharing more delights, kindling the arising fire of our evident lust. Our gestures were delicate, ceremonious, teasing each other to the verge of agony. Then, nature took over. We began rolling and tossing, hugging and sighing as we melded into the position of two doves in a nest and began enticing each other's cock to quench our thirst of communion. No bobbing of heads, no jacking of the shafts, just long luscious sucking, throaty humming, tonguing and with pelvises slightly undulating, little by little the gushing riptide of creamy semen changed the agony of desire into the ecstasy of giving.

For a rather long moment, we just laid there as Argo gently rocked us. The moment was holy. We were replenished, glowing in the light of our moist skin, both of us completely possessed by the evident promise that our lives, henceforth, were shared as one.

*  *  *

As we returned to Porquerolles, Blake simply said, "Why don't you go and unpack, make yourself at home. There's space in the cupboard next to mine for your belongings."

"Sure, Blake."

There was no more mention of qualifying or not.

As we sailed back that morning, After the sails were lowered and we were coasting into the port, Blake calmly said, "Angelo, you brought me back to my truth. You awakened real joy in me. I had forgotten both! I was astray. Now I'm ready to wander… and wander with you, mate! All who wander aren't always lost, you know! Those who can afford to wander, have found themselves, don't you think?…"

I didn't really understand what he meant. I still don't, but I feel it's the same for me, something that has nothing to do with choice nor decision, but with a deeper reality emerging to the light, the light of evidence, the light of orgasmic communion, the light of reality and of understanding. We didn't choose what happened. We just chose to let it happen. We were now simply at peace with what and who we were becoming together : wanderers in love.

Once we got back, I wrote a very explicit mail to my parents and grandparents, telling them everything… and I mean EVERYTHING. I sent a picture of the boat and of Blake along with it. My grandfather congratulated me and promised me an allowance. My parents just said that they trust me and hope I won't be hurt in the relationship I had chosen. No drama! No hysteria. Just open-handed, parental concern and love.

However, the expression my parents wrote mentioning 'the relationship I had chosen,' irritated me a little.

Sure I 'chose' to say yes to what I felt. But it wasn't like I had 'chosen' Blake as one chooses a pair of shoes or a holiday trip in a travel agency. I didn't feel like I 'chose' to love Blake. It just happened. It was as if our love had always been there and suddenly it came to light. All we did was say, 'yes', yes to a way of life, to a philosophy of life, yes to our hearts, yes to ourselves, yes to life itself. Life's exultation erupted in our lusting flesh, in the intimate fluids we gave to each other. In fact, I doubt we really had a choice. It was simply evident that we were caught up in a whirlpool of our own kind of love and that was that!

*  *  *

Blake and I prepared our departure. He filled out the paper concering my status as 'au pair' onboard. We took a day off to go to Toulon. Blake needed to pick up the deck prisms he had ordered as well as some extra stain, brushes, miles of paper towels and bundles of sandpaper for the paint job inside. We needed extra ropes, lamp wicks and even some extra crockery, cutlery, etc. for the galley. We also shopped for clothes for me : an oilskin, sweaters and standard sailor's attire, deck shoes, boots and such. We loaded a taxi to get to the boat coming back.

We spent another day getting Argo in shape for the crossing, stocking food and drink, then fuel and water. We were going to start our wandering in Bonifacio, Corsica. There we planned to fix up the interior, making it cozy and comfortable for the upcoming winter, cruising in the Aegean. Blake paid his bills at the office. I gave my last good-byes to my work buddies. We spent a very affectionate night again and were asleep early to leave with the following sunrise.

The weather was fine and the winds, favorable. We planned to get there before midnight. Having sent the sail aloft, the excitement of sailing, out of sight of land, hit me. Blake gave me the course to follow on the compass and handed me the tiller saying he'd take his turn a few hours later. I felt like Sinbad himself, bare chested, my baggy, linen shorts hanging on my waist as I stood at the tiller, commando, savoring the zest of the nice stiff breeze.

Conditions for sailing in the Mediterranean are quite fickle. The wind changes direction in the blink of an eye. A squall can hit with white tops and waves or drop to dead calm just as fast. After about two and half hours, with no land in sight, the wind started to pick up quite seriously. The tiller was harder to handle. Blake came up and said, "We've got to reef the sails! Argo is straining too much with all that cloth out!"

Just to keep control during the reefing, Blake started the motor, told me to head a bit upwind and went forward to drop the yard, lining it up fore and aft. He pulled in the mainsail and deftly tied the top third down to the yard. He then told me to head more into the wind as he hoisted the sail again. Once the sails were back in the wind, the sheets, secured, he ran back and turned off the motor. We were underway again, with a little more ease for Argo. I was challenged by the admirable way Blake had handled the job. Hugging me by the shoulder he asked, "Do you understand what I did, mate?"

"I think so!"

"I hope so! The next time you'll do the reefing! Here, let me take the tiller. How about going down and making us some sandwiches. That excitement whetted my appetite!"

"Mine too, Blake! You're great!"

Around eleven that night, we eased into the bay of Bonifacio. We found a nice little cove to moor in, dropped anchor and turned in. I was out like a light, elated and exhausted in Blake's arms. He simply gave me a lazy, lovely kiss and fell asleep himself.

The next morning, we decided we were fine at anchor, having no real reason to go ashore. We did however inflate our tender and lifeboat, just to take our rubbish ashore and run errands for the inevitable things we hadn't thought about.

Our days sped by sanding, white staining all the wood, ceiling, cupboard doors, floor. As we advanced, the gentle light softly glowed throughout our little abode. Once the painting finished, we installed the four crystal prism in the deck. The effect was absolute magic! When we had to close everything tight, the cabin still glowed in a cloud of rainbows.

We dusted, washed, polished and crammed the old brushes, empty cans, papers towels and all the other stuff we needed to throw away in three fat plastic bags. That job was done and very well done!

"Blake, since we have to go ashore for the garbage, let me invite you to dine in town tonight and celebrate the end of our job and the beginning of our life in paradise! I know it sounds sort of mainstream and sentimental, but it would make me really happy if you'd let me take you on a date! Please say, yes."

"Yes."

I jumped on him and we kissed like the very first time. We took our time bathing each other, shaving and dressing up real decent like for our big evening out on the town!

The little restaurant we found was perfect. Our table was in a dim corner. The jovial cook and owner treated us humor and tact. When he came over, and lit the candle on the little table, he didn't give us a menu. He just said, "Alors, mes jeunes tourtereaux d'amour," (Well, well, my handsome love doves) "ce soir il n'y a que de la friture mixte. Okay?" (Tonight we only have fried mixed seafood. Okay?)

We both laughed. I said, "Tant que le vin blanc est bien froid et pas trop fort." (That will do as long as your white wine is chilled and not too strong.)

"Il est comme il est, mon beau!" (It's like it is, my handsome fellow!)

It was chilled and, of course, too strong, but delicious! We ate like the famished devils we were, paid a very easy bill and rowed back home.

As Blake was lighting the lantern over our bed, he stated quite simply, "Thank you so very much, Angelo. Those sentimental, corny things can mean a lot and it's great to not have to do dishes!"

"My pleasure, Blake! Let's continue celebrating in bed…"

"I do think it's the only appropriate thing to do!"

We stripped and stretched out in the warm lantern light. A spin of energy siphoned us closer and closer. I was drowning in the gaze of Blake's blue eyes as our cocks kissed, tip to tip. We were breathing deeper and deeper as our melding energies whirled. I shivered. Blake did too. Our cocks strained one to the other. Never had my penis been so hard, reaching out to its twin, pulsating as our slits drooled, mingling together their crystal drops of pure bliss. The only other contacts of flesh we felt were our calloused hands softly caressing our hearts. We trembled with the impending inside upsurge boiling within. Blake's breath hastened. My nostrils flared as Blake's lips quivered. We panted, stiff, grasping each other, convulsing as our semen spewed and converged in a luminous orgasm, anointing our bellies with a generous coat of sperm. Our moist pits reeked the spicy scent of our united souls' delight. We laughed ever so lightly, contented, alert and pure. Our barely satisfied cocks still throbbed. I crawled up on all fours and straddled Blake. I leaned over and softly kissed him. He was aroused once more. I felt his cock urging in the cleft of my ass. I whispered in his ear, "I need you inside me, Blake. I need you now…"

*  *  *

Mid October saw us at sea again. Like water gypsies, we sailed on, with multiple stopovers and overnight passages. We discovered the various charms of the Aegean. We found the meaning of simply living, sailing and discovering our souls soaring higher and higher as we wandered in love.

The slightest of things became sources of joy, of marvel and contentment. We invented celebrations — offering our semen, combining our energies with those of the sea. Blake initiated me to the art of chakra massage. I never had felt so harmonized and I loved massaging Blake. He said I had the 'fluid'.

I could write hundreds of pages about the thousands of subtle moments of spiritual and physical wonder, about the moments of dazzling excitement too. But the further I write, words fade into pale shadows what they seek to depict. It's best to limit these chronicles to just saying that our wandering was more a voyage of the soul than of the miles we cover. Going from isle to isle, from town to beach, our lives, like our love, revealed each day, each wave, each kiss, our increasing richness, our deepening serenity and our simple, surging power. I feel like we are becoming the guardians of a lost kingdom, open to all but found by few.

Then came late February with the almond trees in bloom and the sudden sprinkles of rain, freshening the arid Aegean air.

Then one day in April, a suprisingly angry storm drove us to a very special island : Panaghia Kyra, lost on the northern tip of the Sporades. A wicked blast of wind was pushing us down from the Gulf of Toroneos. We needed to find shelter, fast! Our charts indicated a nearby, deserted island with a natural harbor called Planitis, an enclosed bay surrounded by wooded hills. We found the pass, entered and dropped anchor just in time. Relieved, we waited for the squall to pass over. In the splendor of the following morning, bathed in fresh, brilliant sunlight, we disembarked on a perfect little beach and went exploring.

If there be a dream island, this one is it : nature, sea, wild olive, myrtle and holly trees, springs from which flowed limpid, crystal water, several wild goats, pheasants and grouse. The soil smelt of natural, heady fragrances. From the underbrush rose wispy vapors of rain drenched light and at the end of goat path, a small, halfway dilapidated monastery on the eastern cliffs. Coming towards us, with open arms, a rather illuminated shepherd-monk beaming a big, welcoming smile, greeted us with a hearty, "Kalimera!" (Good morning!).

The monk spoke a very personal version of the English language, but we were able to understand each other. He told us that the island belonged to his order on the mainland and that respectful visitors were welcome. We told him about us — all about us. He listened attentively and then simply said, "Love is a mysterious kingdom guarded by a very beautiful angel. Our island is yours." Blake and myself were simply dumbfounded by the unexpected godsend that fell upon us.

We had been at anchor there for nearly three weeks when we started running out of flour, oil, dried fruits, wine and the rest. We decided to go do some very needed shopping over on Alonnisos Island. We called in at the nearest village, Steni Vala, only about sixteen nautic miles from our anchorage. Again a godsend! Alonnisos was moderately developped for the tourist trade and Steni Vala, with its original authenticity still intact, turned out to be a perfect base for day-charter! Everything was falling into place!

Well, to make a long story short, we made our purchases, inquired about available space for docking Argo along the only quay of the village from June 15 to October 15, four months in all. The fellow acting as harbor master listened to us, taking a look at Argo, then at us, then back at Argo and asked, "What do you want to do here for all that time?"

Blake replied, straight off, looking at him with smiling eyes, "Day charter, Sir."

"You got to get an authorization from the authorities in Patitiri. Once you have that, with a boat like yours, you two handsome young fellows can stay as long as you want. Okay?" 

"Okay!"

He gave us the corresponding phone number. We called, made an immediate appointment. By miracle a taxi showed up and away we went. Once back in Steni Vala, several hours later, we showed an authorization for a maximum of six passengers after having bought the obligatory life jackets, paid a reasonable license fee for the four months and subscribed to a specific professional insurance, with the local agent.

We returned to make the necessary arrangements to set up business in Steni Vala. We printed out some small posters publicizing our excursions and put them in the better hotels and restaurants on the island. The tourist information office put us on internet too! We proposed a sailing around the neighboring island of Peristera. The local waterfront tavern could furnish picnic baskets for a very reasonable price and for a small percentage, they were willing to handle the phone reservations for us. On our program, a stopover for a swim, in a secluded cove, weather permitting, was planned. One day a week, we proposed a clothes-optional cruise. This became very popular and we ended up doing two a week, one for everybody and another for men and lads only. As the word gets around fast, we might be doing more of them like that next year.

Argo is our home. Sailing is our purpose. Sharing both is our joy. And we're still learning!

*  *  *

Epilogue

Here I am, sitting on the deck of our wonderful Argo, anchored in our home bay on Panaghia Kyra Island. The season is now over. We met a lot of great people who came sailing with us. We went to Skiathos and had Argo lifted out of the water and gave him a good scraping underneath followed by a couple of coats of antifouling. We had the motor tuned by a real mechanic. Now, it sounds like a sewing machine… We bought some extras : a spare propeller, a second MagLite, another boathook, etc. We then returned home with two hens, three sheep and a randy little ram lamb who live ashore. Blake is a great fisherman. I enjoy taking care of the animals. I bought the things needed for shearing fleece. I made a drop spindle for spinning and whittled out of olive wood my needles for knitting. I do paintings of Argo and Blake is cloning the 'original' antique model Argo. There's a boutique in Skiathos interested in selling our stuff. We'll deliver before the new season begins. Whenever our neighbor feels like it, he calls in to check on us, bringing us some of his cheese and his unwavering joviality mood.

So to sum everything up, I'll just say that things can't be better and it's just a beginning!

Oh, I almost forgot! Other than a few visits from some of the guys we met this summer, the best news is that my folks are coming over pretty soon too and Blake's mom is thinking about 'defying the demon' and come too! That's going to be something wonderfully weird and beautiful to live, I'm sure! Let's give thanks to our guardian angel! Life is reallly good!