Smellin’ Magellan, Episode 1, Odysseys in Paradise

All seas are ancient. Wilderness is transformed by ancient civilizations and leaves their forgotten footprint forever. Ancient mariners traverse the seas a thousand times over, but the sea remains the sea, the same today as when man first cast his eyes upon it. Rich knew that Zeke, his dog, did not.

The thought took root in Rich’s mind that the sea may be his home until the sails could no longer be hoisted. Zeke will spend his days at sea, to do otherwise would now be an act of cruelty to him. For as far back as his memory can stretch, it is the sea.

Rich envisioned galleons of bygone eras fearlessly forging their way through these waters. Captains and crews some brave, some foolhardy, pressing forward to uncertainty. It was as if the creaking and moaning of Magellan’s Victoria remained on these waters as a reminder of her voyage. “How proudly she must have pierced these waves and sat atop these swells sailing to glory.”

“The wind is the same that crossed the face of Magellan and his men. My eyes are cast on the same vastness of water.” Rich closed his eyes. He breathed long and deep through his nostrils. “I can smell them. It is pungent and dank. The men reek. From below a musty human scent slowly bellows warm as if from a blacksmith’s hearth.”

Rich relaxed on the padded bench in the cockpit. The sails spread full and robust with earth’s invisible bounty—the wind, howling and charging across the great watery plains of forever. The seas rolled docile and pleasant, enough only to offer a slight challenge for The Odyssey. The seas behaved as she should, a benevolent master.

Rich’s immediate destination was further than his furthest. His thoughts of Australia and Dennis lay most prominent in his mind.

“Zeke, do you remember Dennis?” Rich said to Zeke, laying on the bench on the other side of the cockpit.

Zeke lifted his head to the sound of his name.

“That’s who we are going to see,” Rich said.

“No,” Rich said, “not tomorrow, a long way off. Many tomorrows.”

“What’s a tomorrow, you say?” Rich said. “Tomorrow is hope.”

Zeke laid his head down.

“Right,” Zeke said, “it is beyond what you could comprehend. No offense, ole chum, but I need an intellectual and philosophical exchange now and then. That’s where Dennis comes in. However, if it does your soul good, I will tell you things that will remain only between you and me. Everyone should have a friend like that.”

“What’s that, Zeke?”

“Yes, you said something. I heard you.”

“What was it?”

“You said, I love you, Rich.”

“Don’t deny it.”

“It’s okay, Zeke. I love you too.”

“It’s a love based on loyalty. It is pure with no explanations or apologies.”

“I know, I must keep you fed and don’t forget you must keep me company.”

“I think you’re getting this, at least I am; love is reciprocal.”

“Reciprocal; I scratch your belly and you scratch mine.”

“Even in dog terms, I can’t make you understand. Well, until the day you scratch my belly, we’ll have to leave it at that.”

“I’m glad Salty was not with me,” Rich said. “He may not have survived all the excitement and adventure of The Strait. However, he may even be dead by now on his own. He’s old and his numbered days were few. He spent them on his terms. It would be good to have another nip with him and listen to him talk about boats and sailing.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, who was he? My mate before you.”

“Yes, there was another.”

“I would have liked to have known him in his prime. We would have sailed this together and had a drink or two in every port.”

“Yeah, Zeke,” Rich said, “but more than Salty, I wish my dad was here with me. He can captain my boat any day. And perhaps he is and I just don’t acknowledge it. Some things you just can’t shake.”

“I need a course,” Rich said, “and a coffee to remove the chill.”

Rich steadied the helm and slipped below.

He sat at the chart desk and rolled out a map. He ran his finger up the coast of Chile, looking for a sizable port to restock his larder and plan the next leg of his journey across the South Pacific to Sydney, Australia.

“It would be a shame to go all that way, only to find Dennis had moved on.”

Rich sniffed and lifted his head. “There it is, I just crossed Magellan’s course again.”

Zeke climbed down the companionway. His head lifted as if picking up a scent.

“You want to hear something funny?” Rich said. “We’re smellin’ Magellan.”

“It’s funny, trust me.”

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