Normally I write these, but have decided after a few requests from readers, to let Doc put pen to paper. What follows is all Doc Farto...HL
I am infinitely pleased that Harlen has seen the wisdom of letting me write one of these posts. After all, I am the meat and bones of these tales. Without me, he’d just plum be another dude losing races. Heck he probably couldn’t even scare up a crew.
So then… with that cleared up, I start today first by teaching America a new word, “Locas”.
Locas is Cuban slang for gay men and simply translated means “crazy girls”. Basically it’s what I call most of the idiots and morons who know me, but who still can’t comprehend that such a creature as myself exists. For you see, I am one who has truly lived life. I’ve tasted the sweet wine of victory and exotic women, garnered the admiration of nations and ventured across this planet in search noble and righteous living.
For instance, a couple of weeks back, Lawrence was whining because we were in some lumpy seas, all crying for his momma, so I began relating a story of courage to hopefully empower him. He reacted all high and mighty, snickering and blathering about how I am fat and full of crap…
No matter, for he is nothing but a stupid burracho, but I will now forthwith tell you the same truths I told to him and you may draw your own conclusions. Hopefully you will not let me down and leave me with the need to curse YOU for your stupidity…
Ronald Reagan was then El Presidente, and as a God fearing, red hating brilliant man, he was sworn to defeat the Communist scourge wherever it lay. I also a man of great beliefs and appetites felt as kin to the Reagan and knew I could task myself with assisting him in his great crusade against communism, especially the mangy dog, Castro.
You see, we all must do our part. Great men need help from other great men. You need but look at history to see the wisdom of my statement. Lee had Jackson. Arthur had Lancelot. Reagan had Farto, and although most of what I will now relate is still classified, I do not feel I am violating my compact with the CIA by relating this. They no longer care as the Sandinistas are long gone and they have much bigger fish to fry these days. Plus they still owe me money.
It started simply enough back in 1983. I was having my morning constitutional at a beachside bar in the Cayman’s when I met another gentleman who was on ‘vacation’. He appeared to me to be a bit too much on vacation and reminded me of an Uptown New Orleanian, dressed in a pink shirt and green cutoff slacks.
Nevertheless, we did not speak to each other until I ran into him much later in the day at the same bar. We struck up a conversation that lasted for many hours. At the time he told me that he was a sugarcane importer, but it wasn’t until weeks later that I found out who his true employer was.
While working on my old Bertram in a marina down in Galveston, the gentleman reappeared walking up the pier. He carried with him a bottle of mezcal, a bag of limes and cayenne pepper along with an opportunity for me to stake out my place in history. I was being recruited, and knowing that when fate tosses you the interesting cards, you play them. And so I did.
By the next evening, I had purchased a 34-foot Morgan using funds transferred into my account from the Bank of Panama and was off in search of crew. Crew who I knew I could trust and count on, fellow Cuban ex-pats.
Specifically, I recruited a forty-year-old ex-mercenary who was working the linen circuit, cleaning towels and sheets for hotels in south Florida, named Pocampo. He was a bastard who wore a long white beard and who undoubtedly pissed in the laundry. A tobacco chewer, he had survived Kennedy’s invasion of Castro’s Island by stealing a pirogue type boat, fashioning sails out of mosquito netting and sugarcane husks and then sailed (retreated) all the way back to Miami, arriving exactly one month later on South Beach. His landing was apparently documented in Life Magazine, or so he says. The only thing I know for sure is that he is a fantastic sailor and a patriot.
With Pocampo as my chief lieutenant the team was set. Together we rendezvoused with the Morgan, which I was having refitted and renamed in a Corpus Christi marina. We re-christened her “Contradiction” with a bottle of Thunderbird, as this was the primary liquid sustenance we were taking with us on our ‘cruise’ and anyway, who the heck in those days could find a virgin. We then sailed Contradiction southeast to the Cayman Islands where we met up with our handler.
These were the early days of the CIA backed Contra revolution in Nicaragua. They primarily operated out of bases in Costa Rica and Honduras, though the Honduran faction was the fiercest. Our job was to meet up with a fishing boat off of Nicaraguan waters and load up with arms, ammunition and other contraband and sneak them back into Sandanista territory in order to resupply a rebel incursion in the area of the Rio Wa Wa delta. The CIA could not resupply from the air for fear of creating an incident, though they would be aiding us in our navigations by radar from a spy boat off the coast.
Our sail was quite uneventful, and the CIA’s logic in using ‘cruisers’ to deliver arms shipments was brilliant. We made the rendezvous with the supply boat and stashed the arms and munitions below and then headed further west towards the coast. The wind was with us and we were able to fly under spinnaker most of the way. We were even told by our handlers to fly the chute if possible because it would deflect some of our radar signature. Knowing today about US stealth technology, it may be that some of this technology was woven into our sail. But I do not know this for sure.
After receiving several waypoints during our transit, the lush green of the Nicaraguan coast appeared before us. Even though we were armed with our cruising cover story, we knew that it would not hold water if we were boarded, but luckily during this time all we saw were small fishing boats.
Arriving in the delta, we motored up a slieu and anchored in a preselected location. We covered the boat in palm fronds and selected other herbaceous growths for concealment of the boat and waited. At night we listened to the electricity of the jungle and feasted on fresh raccoon caught by Pocampo. During the days, the waves of heat and the stillness of the air made our encampment nearly unbearable, and having run out of ice many days before we were forced to drink our fill of hot Thunderbird and while away the time playing cribbage.
To this day I have a wonderful recipe for raccoon sloppy joe’s and fricasseed raccoon, but have no taste for Thunderbird.
Within three nights our bedraggled and wild-eyed freedom fighters showed up. We toasted them with fortified wine and delivered the goods of which they were very grateful for, having been engaged in a running scrimmage with the Communists over the last two weeks and were running low on supplies.
Having completed our mission, we then pulled anchor and headed out to sea and the safety of the Gulf of Mexico.
For two years this program was successful and grew to encompass two other sailboats, until Pocampo, who had graduated to command his own sailboat, was lost on a delivery. Also around this time the Iran-Contra affair reared its ugly baldhead and all operations ceased.
a>Though I fear he is dead, rumors still surface every now and then about Pocampo. Tales of him having changed his name and running a club in South Beach, or of him fleeing with Manuel Noriega into the Vatican Embassy during the American invasion of Panama and having barely escaped disguised as a nun, to stories of him being the source for a lot of the scoops on Sailing Anarchy.
Nevertheless, I have many stories from these heady days. Romantic tales of victory and loss… Ah, a special favorite of mine is of one young and fierce bird, who I met while drinking in a shantytown in Honduras. Alas, I haven’t spoken of her for many years. I can only hope that she was able to get the penicillin that she so desperately needed.
But that is a story for another day.