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To Russia, with Vodka

As told by Roscoe Wellington

A delivery captain goes to Russia to commission a boat and comes back with the story of a lifetime.

We sold a 60 Maritimo in Russia, and we needed to commission the boat. So I went over there and met the skipper and engineer. We were in an old navy port that was run by the union and mafia, so that was pretty shocking. The first thing they wanted to do when the boat arrived was have it blessed by a high priest. So a female interpreter and myself got on the boat, and they weren’t happy about having a woman on board, so already there was drama. 

Day two was a Friday. That was when they were going to have a big christening. It was a big bash. The owner—I couldn’t pronounce his name, so I called him Big Boss—bought the boat as a kind of company boat. So he and his colleagues, key people in the port, were aboard, and the only women there were the cooks. You knew these guys were powerful people; they controlled the port. We had a huge banquet, and they treated me like a king, so that was all good. Then someone came up to me and said, “You have to give a speech.” I thought, Uh-oh, that’s not good. 

I was nervous about my speech, so I wasn’t drinking. Big Boss came up to me and said, “You not like vodka?” And I could tell by the way that he asked me, that for Maritimo and Australia’s interests, I’d better have a vodka. That helped me get my speech out. 

Then Big Boss, his associates, and I took the boat out for a quick cruise, and my interpreter came up to me and asked, “Can this boat make a 100-mile trip right now?”

I said, “Of course it can, it’s full of fuel.”

She looked at me and said, “Good, because you’re going on a 100-mile trip with Big Boss and his family, but I’m not coming. You’ll be O.K., you’ll be safe on the boat, but don’t get off the boat.”

Roscoe Wellington

Despite a couple close scrapes, Roscoe remains unapologetically proud to work for Maritimo.

I thought, this doesn’t sound good. But we dropped everyone off at the dock, and Big Boss comes on with his wife, son-in-law, and daughter, who had a new baby still under warranty. And they had a small dog in a big cage. It was a million-dollar dog, you could tell. So we got settled in and head back out. We’re riding along, and got into the open ocean. And it’s rough, rough as hell. The skipper is driving fast and really bashing the boat around. I’m thinking, Slow down, you idiot. 

Big Boss sat at the head of the table drinking wine. The wife was just sick beyond belief, throwing up and green. The son-in-law wasn’t looking too flash; the daughter was okay. Then the dog got really seasick, and then the dog has it coming out of both ends. The next minute, I’m like, Oh my God, I’ve got Mom throwing up over here and the dog throwing up over there. Now I had a roll of disgusting paper towels in my arms, I don’t normally do this, but I had to just open the door and pitch it over the side. 

After that whole mess, Big Boss says, “Do you like wine?” I said, “Hell yes, give me some of that.” We had that bottle, then another one. Finally, we got to our destination, and the family hopped off. 

Phew. The next day, I got a call from the interpreter, who told me I’m going on another 90-mile trip. So Big Boss and nine blokes came back on the boat, and one had a huge hunting rifle with a scope. I’m like, Okay… Big Boss slapped me on the back and said, “Today is going to be a good day, much hunting and fishing and drinking.” Okay, off we went. 

We got to where we’re going, and it’s a pristine harbor surrounded by trees. So they’re all drinking, I started fishing, and it was cold. Really cold. The next minute, Big Boss and his mates come out in their undies. They said, “Going for swim. You swim?” 

I’m like, “Oh no, I’m good.”

They swam around, and when they came out, Big Boss says, “You not go for swim?” And he gave me this look. So, again, for Maritimo and Australia’s interests, I decided I’d better go for a swim. And man, did that water take my breath away. Then I was like, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. 

Next, we’re all in the cockpit, in our undies, and I’m freezing. Next thing you know, a mate comes out with a bottle of vodka. After multiple rounds of that, I ran into the engine room to try and warm up. 

Shortly after I got warm, the second half of the group returned in a small blue boat, with a leg sticking out of it, and a pile of red meat up front. I finally saw it was a deer. One of the guys, you could tell didn’t know about hunting rifles and recoil, because he had the biggest cut on his eye. It needed like 25 stitches when he got back. But the other guys were calm, and cleaned the deer on the swim platform. 

Finally, we all went home. We got back, Big Boss left happily with his friends, and I started to clean up the boat. I threw away, I don’t know how many empty bottles of wine, and 29 one-liter bottles of vodka in the garbage. 

Then I flew home with an unforgettable story that was too crazy to make up.

Roscoe Wellington is a delivery captain and race-boat driver for Maritimo, who, despite a few crazy days in Russia, will drop everything and go wherever the company needs him.