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Code of Bushido.

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. Fortunately some gangsters in Athens blew her up and then demanded the insurance money, something I refused to pay, and a very long war of nerves and threats only ended once I imported some muscle from America who photographed themselves next to the daughter of the leading hood, who gave up the fight.

Then came the present Bushido. My son and I conceived her, my wife and daughter decorated her, and soon after she was launched in 2004 she became the "head turner" I always wanted to own. She was Keira Knightley, Ava Gardner, and Betty Grable rolled into one, a black steel hull, two masts, two long overhangs in the bow and stern, and covered in teak and mahogany. She is 120 feet long and by far the most beautiful boat in the Med. When people ask when she was built I always answer 1927, and I have yet to meet someone who questioned it.

So, I should be happy at last, n'est-ce pas?. The trouble is the rest of the people have yachts, as opposed to boats. Everywhere I've gone these last ten years has been a nightmare. Every marina is impossible to get into, every cove is chock-a-block with large monstrous stinkpots--as we old salts call boats with motors--and even when one is moored in waters far away from the glitzy spots of the Med, the world's most annoying invention--the jetski--runs rings around Bushido making sure no one on board has a moment of peace and reflection. (We're very big on peace and reflection on Bushido).

Back in the glory days, I knew most of the people that sailed around the French Riviera, in Sardinia, Corsica, the Spanish coast, and, of course, the Greek Isles. People would anchor next to one another and a party would ensue. We were all friends. After the Arab oil boycott in 1974, some strange creatures began to float around, men wearing towels and sheets who would throw their rubbish overboard along with the occasional hooker. It was the beginning of the end of floating the good life, and as of this summer, with a gangster like Roman Abramo-son-of-a-bitch polluting the place with five megayachts, it is the end.
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Title Annotation:Taki; on owning a yacht
Publication:The American Conservative
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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