Burial at Sea: The Captain and the Boat?

Say good-bye to the 4000 year old man who left this earth on February 16, 2019.  Being 4000 years-old, it seems that death was a bit of an insult.  I wonder if he knows he’s dead.  Being a mystic, Captain Douglas Evan Logan had the right to believe whatever he wanted.  The high seas were his culture/s, his nation.  Technically, he carried an American passport, but that was because passports were required.  A passport from the nation of Evan Logan wasn’t something the world was ready for, so he tolerated Earthly ways.  Otherwise, he wasn’t even an Earthling–according to him.  (None of this was a secret.  Actually, Evan would have enjoyed this last letter as he tended to refer to most forms of communication.)

Some of Captain’s beliefs were interesting.  When I first boarded the Alvei, I had to run these personal beliefs through my own personal filters.  He was oddly rational for a guy who believed he was a 4000 year-old non-Earthling.  After a brief thought check, I could see no reason to challenge Evan on these things because he was otherwise of sound mind–mostly.  Evan could do absolutely everything on a square rigger, and that’s what I really needed in him.  To some others, those beliefs were off-putting.  But, that was because they conflated the idea of personal belief with sailing skills.  I thought those two points were exclusive of each other.  As long as Evan didn’t attempt to take the ship, with us on it, to some other dimension, I was good to go.

The Boat: What to Do with the Alvei

This should be a blog in itself.  But, I can’t put off the discussion that is as emotional as the sudden loss of Evan.  Alvei, or the Alvei, was home to many of us.  After a seven year long refit, she spent more than 20 years at sea, in the water most of the time.  For nearly 30 years, she was Evan’s home, home to many of her early investors, and scores of crew to follow.   I didn’t realize when I first boarded Alvei, in 2015, that she had only a few years left.  Makes me wonder what I would have done if Evan had fallen ill when I was there.  (As it was, my former crew-mate, Esava, was, and cared for Evan until the last.)    

So, our girl is sitting in the harbor, in Suva, Fiji with no captain.  (A former crew-mate is on board.)  That means Alvei and Evan are apart for the first time ever.  I imagine it’s hard for both of them.  Alvei has already dragged her anchor once since Evan passed away.  Plus, she’s a rusting mess.  The 4000 year-old man left no will, which made sense because Evan had planned to scuttle Alvei, with him, when it was his time to go down to Davey Jones’ Locker.   Alas, a high fever foiled Evan’s plans.  Man, Evan didn’t plan on not being in control ALL the time.

As I write this, it has been determined that Captain Evan Logan was, indeed, the boat’s owner.  This became an issue because of the original investors.  Evan once told me about the “shareholders”, but he said they had all moved on years prior.  To Evan, it was as though their ownership ebbed away along with their commitment to the boat.  But, these people had moved on, had families, adult responsibilities, and so on.  Evan wasn’t good at letting people do what was honest for them.  He knew what he wanted from everyone.  So, the investors have been asked to vote and make the decision: donate Alvei or scuttle her.  Evan wanted Alvei with him in death.  That may happen.  Or, it may not.  Enter, Lydia Johnson…

Yep, I’ve done it again.  I’ve run to the rescue, this time, of an over 90 foot sailboat.  She’s actually about 125 feet with her bowsprit.   Like many of the former crew and investors, some want her to continue her mission to take aid to remote people.  Others think she’s past her years.  While I know that Alvei can be refit, what is the real point?  She belonged to another, or others, when factoring in those who put in hard years of backbreaking sweat equity and money–lots of money converting Alvei into a tall ship.   The question isn’t “can we” re-fit Alvei.  The question is, “should we”.

Why is this a question, you ask.  After all it was/is Evan’s boat.  Yes, but, it was aboard the Alvei that I learned how to speak to island chiefs about their infrastructural needs, their needs for medical supplies, and money to send tribal children to school.  It was aboard the Alvei that I slept beneath the glow of volcanoes never before realizing that would ever happen, and upon her that I experienced the worst seasickness of my lifetime.   It was the Alvei that gave my life back to me.  She had that kind of impact on many people.  There is more to do.  There are more people who need help.  I was a helmswoman aboard her.  She was the first ship–almost ship that I ever stood watch on, or steered through the night–alone.  I, Lydia Johnson, steered a 125 feet square rigger/schooner.   I want it all back–all of it.  It seems weird to do all of those things on another boat.  

What does one do when someone’s else’s possession has that much of an impact on other people’s lives?  The answer is simple to the average arm-chair quarter back with all the comforts of beer and buffalo wings.  It’s another thing to be emotionally vested.  The question is: send Alvei to be with Evan? Or raise money, and breathe new life in her?  I’m kind of glad that decision isn’t totally up to me.  I have discovered, losing Evan, that I want my cruising life of aid work back.  Wonder how many others are asking life’s question as a result of Evan’s death.

There’s a lot of guilt thinking about carrying someone’s mission, on their boat when they wanted that boat to go to the bottom of the sea with them.  Evan is there.  We buried him at sea as he wanted.  Should we take Alvei to be with him and start anew on another boat?  It wouldn’t be the same.  but, should it be?

Note: I’m going to post this blog without editing it.  There are no doubt mistakes, but if I don’t post this right now, I may lose my nerve to make these feelings and emotions public.  I hope it touched you in some way about something that has had you sitting on the fence about what to do.  Seize the day.

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Published by: So the World Goes

What began as a data collection endeavor, following Cyclone Pam, has become an adventure that has taken me from Vanuatu's central islands on to the north, and back, spending time in remote island villages and cosmopolitan cities, all while living on boats. Since I arrived in August, Vanuatu has experienced a 7.3 magnitude earthquake and the jailing of 14 government officials, for corruption, the last of which brought a UN warning of riots. Luckily the latter didn't happen. But, from flying fish to the red glow of volcanoes, I wish this waking dream could last forever. Frequency of Posts While the intention was to blog almost daily, either being at sea or experiencing limited internet access, has put me way behind on posting. The upside is that there are still many stories to share, the lack of internet access being a story all its own. That said, life in a developing nation that toggles between old the world and the new, is both romantic and frustrating. So, please be patient as I must also be. Contact me at lydiaajohnson@gmail.com

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