Category Archives: humor

In which we discover what lies beneath the boat

Holla!  Kitty here, and it’s been a long time since I’ve put up a blog post, due to a mixture of sloth, a visit from our tremendously awesome friends, and a number of concerts (Davi touched Lenny Kravitz! and his security guard punched me in the throat)—basically, lots of Shore Leave.  But we’re back, with further videos and pics to come, and the dark, dark tale of a rather embarrassing episode in the life of SY Wake.

don't pay the ferryman
“You kids better stop whining or I swear I’ll turn this boat around”

 

See, it’s been *counting on fingers* six months since we met the boat and brought her back here to La Spezia, and since then our “work” has consisted largely of on-and-below-deck improvements, lounging, and figuring out how to build a floating bar on the paddleboard (totally achievable).

 

BUT apparently you are supposed to scrub and scrape the underside of a boat on a regular basis, lest it become rife with maritime pests, such as barnacles.

damn sure not going anywhere
Somebody call Rick Moranis

 

Let’s talk about barnacles!  They’re part of the subphylum Crustacea, which means they’re rather unexpected relations of crabs and lobsters (like how aforementioned Lenny Kravitz and Al Roker are distant cousins, look it up).  A newly hatched barnacle is called a nauplius, and consists of basically a head with a tail; in the larval stage the head starts secreting a gooey adhesive substance which is kind of gross, and attaches itself to a suitable substrate (such as rocks or our own damn boat).  Barnacles then develop an exoskeleton of hard plates, begin using teeny legs to eat plankton, and become the acne of pirate ships which we all know and love.

bummer me hearties
Pirates of the Caribbean Part VI: The Nuisance of the Black Pearl

 

Also, in Olden Days, certain barnacles were thought to hatch into the goose species Branta leucopsis (unsurprisingly named the Barnacle Goose), because people can be dumb as hell sometimes.

dipshits
Ferioufly, which maftermind thought of thif fhit?

 

Sooooo when Wake began to cruise at a slower and slower pace, we figured there were probably a few barnacles clinging to the hull, thus hindering the boat’s streamlined progress.  No prob, we thought, just gotta take her out of the water on the haul and get her cleaned.  Just a couple o’ barnacles.  Well, as I said, people can be dumb as hell sometimes.

There exist moments in life in which few words can express the true nature of a sight, and in the case of Wake being lifted from the marina, the sole turn of phrase which came to mind was “holy shit”.  See:

dav
You gotta be kidding me.
sdr
Is that… is that ectoplasm?

 

Yep.  It turns out that barnacles grow freaking fast, and that spooky weeds can sprout around them, too.  Fortunately, the good stevedores (can I call them stevedores? that’s a word we don’t use enough) of Porto Mirabello knew just how to power-hose the little bastards off the hull, which kind of reminded me of the guns they use in Ghostbusters.

 

Meanwhile, each and every worker took the time to ramble over and admire the cats, who waited in their carriers pretending to be wholesome while big burly Italian dudes cooed at them.

those-soulful-eyes.jpeg
27 pieces of Meow Mix and some string for whoever lets me out of here

 

At last, Wake was clean, returned to full function and ready to return to the waves, and we learnt a valuable lesson in why you need to scrub the hull frequently.  Away we sailed, the wind whispering redemption around us, when at once we heard a mournful cry…

And then the boat gave birth to a beautiful new goose!

a christmas-in-july miracle
His name is Fteve

Vikings with nice ankles, or, a brief history of La Spezia, Italy

Being hardened sailors with nothing left to lose, we of SY Wake have obviously been engaged in a long and punishing journey across the seven seas—indeed, it’s many a good soul who’s been lost to these deeps.  Like Percy.  We used to have a cabin boy named Percy.  Not anymore.

None of that was true, although I’m sure Percy was a very nice person.  Seeing as it’s only the first summer we’ve had the boat, and we’re still learning/lazy as hell when we feel like it, we’ve been bouncing forth and back between Home Base in Florence and the sun deck, or the town where Wake is currently docked: La Spezia, Italy.

the city center, aka the cleanest part
Historical fact: they fought about the “La” for a century until a decree in 1930 said you HAD to use it

I’m quite certain we’ll end up taking a number of photographs of modern La Spezia (or maybe not, see aforementioned laziness), but today I’ve decided that the healthiest thing a person can possibly do is live entirely in the past (that’s what they say, right?).  So let’s all take a step back and a swig of cheap wine, and learn some historical shit about La Spezia!

Where stuff is
The “boot” of Italy: kicking Sicily around since 100,000 B.C.

Located in a picturesque and highly strategic little gulf upon Italy’s west coast, on the Ligurian Sea (I’ll get to the gulf in a later blog entry, ibid. laziness), the area of La Spezia has been occupied since Ancient Times, which were really important.  Before there was history, there were prehistoric people: we know this because they left their crap lying around for us to find.  In the days of the Roman empire, when it was completely chill to put people in a ring with lions and see what happened, the place was a significant maritime asset, though I presume the tourist industry didn’t thrive as it does today because they hadn’t invented sunscreen yet.

the continuing glory of the latin language
Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelled of elderberries

Anyhow the empire got embarrassingly sacked, after which the Byzantines took control of the region, followed by Lombard rule. Over the next few centuries La Spezia saw some Saracen invasions (sad emoji) and Viking raids: apparently this one Viking dude, Hastein, pretended to convert to Christianity, faked his own death, and subsequently leapt out of his coffin during the sacraments and decapitated everybody, which is totally metal.

viking cat
Bringing the Ragnarok

Beginning around the twelfth century, La Spezia became one of those assets tugged and tossed around by Italian city-states engaged in political bitch fights, mainly Milan, Genoa, and a brief episode in which the city belonged to a single family, the Fieschi, who began construction of the castle of San Giorgio, which is still around today.

IMG_20180622_142129-2.jpeg
On the other hand, the Fieschi family now does late-night infomercials for pasta makers

As a well-situated port, La Spezia grew increasingly significant as a military hub, holding one of Italy’s most powerful maritime arsenals (it still serves as a naval base, so there’s a multitude of frustrating no-trespassing signs).  Correspondingly, the city saw extensive conflict and bombings during the second World War (dude, fuck Nazis), but the totally awesome Partisan resistance remained strong within its walls, eventually recapturing the city from the occupying Axis army; the city itself received national medals of valor following the war.  Subsequently, La Spezia served as a main departure point for surviving Jewish refugees, becoming known as the gate of Zion.  Seriously dude, fuck the Nazis.  In the decades to follow, the city was rebuilt, an economic crisis led to demographic decline, and it settled into the quasi-naval quasi-touristic very-pleasant place it is today, where we have been inebriated a number of times (like with these guys, which was so unspeakably awesome).

BUT in the course of my research regarding La Spezia, I discovered it was once the sometimes-home of this bodacious chick I just now decided to talk about.  Virginia Oldoini, Countess of Castiglione, was born in 1837 to a minor noble family and, according to the historical record, she was really hot.  One supposes this to be true, since most notoriously she was the mistress of Napoleon III of France; she was a pretty spicy lady.  But the coolest part is that, well aware that she was a fox, the Countess initiated a project in collaboration with two important early photographers whose names I forgot.  Directing and dictating each image, she posed in theatrical outfits with exquisite postures, portraying herself as Jezebel, Lady Macbeth, a nun, Medea, a hooker, pretty much anything she wanted—and homegirl showed no modesty, going so far as to show her ankles, which is just about as scandalous as banging the emperor.  See (NSFW):

$25 and you can look at the other eye
$25 and you can see the other eye
We've all been there
Go home Virginia, you’re drunk
that bosom though
So much hairspray involved in the making of this photograph
That kid don't look happy
There are 23 more children under that skirt
NSFW
An image kept under the mattresses of so many 19th century adolescent boys

You go girl.