06/07/04 — OPINION -- Reminiscences

View Archive

OPINION -- Reminiscences

By Gene Price
Published in News on June 7, 2004 1:58 PM

An apology

BEAUFORT -- We apologized recently to Captain Horatio Sinbad. He's captain -- and builder -- of the beautiful brigantine Meka II.

At this writing he and his crew -- including four teenage girls -- are sailing somewhere in the Bahamas or perhaps the Caribbean. Among their ports of call will be Havana, Cuba. And they will be meeting other tall ships throughout their more than 3,000 mile voyage.

We -- Gloria and I -- were among those wishing them bon voyage as they left from the boat house of the Maritime Museum to which Gloria's father devoted his last gratifying years.

And that was behind our apology to Sinbad. In addition to some of his scrimshaw, carvings and paintings, Gloria inherited from "Captain Mac" a parrot. Yes, like "Polly-wants-a-cracker" parrot.

His name was "Captain Bilgewater." And he had a problem. He couldn't talk. Or, if he did, it didn't make any sense. There could have been a good explanation. Gloria tried to teach Bilgewater to quote scriptures. Her seafaring father had focused on teaching it to cuss!

But Captain Sinbad loved Bilgewater. Shortly after Capt. Mac's death, Sinbad showed up at our home at Sleepy Creek. He wanted to buy Bilgewater.

Gloria declined the offer.

In the following months, Captain Bilgewater not only refused to engage in conversation -- other than raucous squawks -- it "marked its territory" on everything beneath its perch and succeeded in chewing up the wooden trim all around our living room.

Bilgewater eventually fell ill. I resisted Gloria's insistence that we take it to the vet long enough for Bilgewater to greet us one morning "flat out and feet up."

"Maybe we should have sold Bilgewater to Sinbad," I suggested.

"No," sighed Gloria, "we should have given Bilgewater to Sinbad. It would have made both of them happy." As Captain Horatio Sinbad prepared to leave Beaufort, we both recalled the experience. And he graciously accepted our apology.