Sea — February 2004
By Capt. Bill Pike
We Have the Technology
Please allow me to set the stage for a little maritime tragedy I got tangled up in about a week ago. Imagine a couple of brand-new 60-some-foot motoryachts—each as shiny and bright as a fresh-minted penny—ensconced in adjoining slips in a pricey, palm-fringed marina in South Florida. Make ‘em a couple of ultra-expensive, extra-outfitted beauties, too: sisterships with price tags nudging the net worth of Dick Cheney. Crew ‘em with a passel of seemingly intelligent guys, each togged out in trendy yacht wear. Then, finally and regretfully, toss a subtle but powerful wrench into the works: a liberal dosage of plain, old-fashioned arrogance.
“Come on aboard,” said the captain of the yacht nearest the dockmaster’s office, a big guy with pricey, reflector-type shades. From the lofty grandeur of an immense flying bridge, he bade a grand welcome to my photographer and me. The two of us jumped from the dock onto the yacht’s big swim platform, traversed the teak-paved cockpit, and then climbed up the sculpted, stainless steel ladder to the bridge.
Politely rising from his seat at the upper-helm station to a height of well over six feet, the captain introduced himself and the captain of the other motoryacht. The two skippers then proceeded to introduce their respective crews, a sizable group of young guys who were lounging around the bridge with a wholly nautical flair. The photographer and I greeted the assemblage and then began explaining how the upcoming photo shoot needed to go. What we wanted to do, we said, was capture an exciting image of the two motoryachts running across a nearby bay, more or less side-by-side. We cautioned the two skippers about not looking toward the helicopter while the shoot was in progress—smiling directly at the camera gives a stagy, unnatural quality to the resulting photography. We cautioned them about keeping the two yachts close together—allowing photographic subjects to get too far apart interferes with the immediacy of the resulting images, we said. And we cautioned them about paying attention to buoys and day marks—even wide channels are often skirted by skinny water in Florida, we warned.
“So the helicopter will be running in this direction,” concluded the photographer, making motions with his hands in the air to show the orchestration of the shoot, “and you guys’ll be running in this direction.”
A long, uneasy silence ensued. Sensing trouble perhaps, the photographer attempted to clarify things by making a perfectly logical request.
“You guys got a chart?” he asked. “A chart would help us show you what we’re talkin’ about.”
“No,” came the curt, dismissive reply from the big guy with pricey, reflector-type shades.
Next page > Part 2: The specifics of the story unfolded to a rapt audience. > Page 1, 2
This article originally appeared in the January 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.