97ft schooner Martinique, 1970
My mom and stepdad ran a day trip sailing excursion from St. Martin to St. Barts (Saint Barthelemy) and back. It worked well until the inevitable happened to all marginal charter boat operators... their boat sank.
Well if you want the real story... My step dad, Uwe Steffen, was a 6'6" German sea captain. His dad was shot by a Messerschmitt smuggling horses to the Russians in the beginning of World War II, his mom was put in a special castle to have babies produced from the Perfect Aryan Generals.
Uwe was then sent to Nazi youth school and went into training on the German Navy clipper ship. After the war somehow he wound up in the Caribbean and met my recently divorced French mother. Why they lived together was beyond me as being French she absolutely hated all Germans with passion.
Uwe loved to drink and gamble away the charter profits at the local hotel casino. I remember him coming back from the casino late at night to be met by my 5'1'' screaming mother on deck. I also remember him throwing my screaming mother overboard many times.
Uwe taught me how to scuba dive when i was 9. He taught me how to drive a 13 ft whaler with 25 hp outboard when I was 10. he also taught me to eat hot peppers every day which was odd for that age. He was muscular and had a huge Japanese sea dragon tattoo on his arm.. back in the days when you could only earn a tattoo. He was by far the biggest and strongest man on St. Martin in those days and would get into lots of drunken fist flinging altercations with the locals due to his upbringing.
And then one night, when the boat was moored out in the bay and the wind was blowing in the right direction, some locals swam out and cut the boats main mooring line. it wound up on the rocks at midnight and that was the end of the Norlandia after sailing the seas for 66 yrs.
Photograph & story courtesy Chris Berlin
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