April 19, 2009

A boat in need of escape

WORD HAS REACHED ME from the State penitentiary in Walnut Street. Someone has sent me a copy of the prison’s secret underground newspaper, the Walnut Street Gazeout. I believe it should be Gazette, but Gazeout is also quite appropriate if you think about it.

According to the April issue of the Gazeout (should be Gazette), six inmates are seeking advice. Over a period of three years, they have quietly built a 10-foot sailing dinghy from plywood snaffled from an in-house remodeling project.

An article jointly authored by “Burglaroo” and “Innocent Victim” claims this is no ordinary sailing dinghy. It’s designed like those 10-footers that are racing around the world. This is a sea-going 10-footer, a proper escape vessel.

It was an appealing project, apparently, one that dovetailed with their dreams of escape and fed on their craving for freedom. Now that it’s finished, the six builders are planning to draw lots to establish ownership.

However, because they plunged into this scheme in a frenzy of unbridled enthusiasm they overlooked a very important point: how to smuggle it out of the pen. At present it’s in the laundry behind a row of boilers.

Apparently it was my book, Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere, that sparked this whole idea, which is why I was sent a copy of the Gazeout (should be Gazette) with a request for advice. Not that they’re in any tearing hurry about this, you understand. None of the six is going to be freed within 18 months. But they’re now belatedly starting to plan ahead.

Well, I must point out that I have never advocated going to sea in a 10-footer. I thought I was being very brave by making the smallest boat in my book just 20 feet. But when pent-up enthusiasm turns into passion and then into uncontained zeal, anything can happen. And it has.

Unfortunately, I’ve had no experience of smuggling a 10-foot sailing dinghy out of a prison, so I guess I’m not much help. All I can say is that if any you readers have any brilliant ideas, I’d be glad to pass them on.

Today’s Thought
Freedom suppressed and again regained bites with keener fangs than freedom never endangered.
—Cicero, De Officiis

“Do you file your nails after you’ve cut them?”
“Heavens, no, I just throw them in the waste-paper basket.”

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