Chapter 18 Johan Lloyde

Like a prisoner, I secretly hold on to what I want to do, and who I want to be, but I hide it, deep inside, like Terry Malloy, I hide to survive until Karl Malden shows up to give me a pep talk.

This summer day, we have been waiting for hours in the mainland heat at Mercer’s Marina. I have looked at all the silly boat names, walking along the maze of narrow little docks: their names are things like Dor-Dic 5, Our Escape or Splendor. I could never imagine my parents combining their names into anything—Jake and Aleta—would spell Jak-Al. Nope. Sometimes people combine their kids’ names: Stufus?

Our boat—his boat—is coming. This is the boat Jake is going to build the interior of himself. It’s called a sail-a-way package. That means the boat is set up to sail, but has no cabin.
“You’re going to put the cabin in?” I ask him.

“And you’re going to help me,” he says.

“Can I name it too?”

“No, the new boat is going to be called Johan Lloyd.”


“Johan Lloyd was the true first person to discover America.”

“I thought that was Columbus.”

“Actually, long before Columbus, there were the Vikings, but after them, Johan Lloyd discovered America, and I have written an article about him.” He pulls out an ornately tall narrow book. It’s a hardcover magazine called American Heritage. He opens the magazine to his article: “Johan Lloyd: The True Discoverer of America.” And now Jake is going to call our new WestSail 32, a 32-foot cutter with a sloop rig, Johan Lloyd.

Something about this new boat gives me the courage to ask Jake why we can’t have clothes that aren’t secondhand:

“We know what is really important,” is what he tells me. And here comes what is really important…. Standing in my rotting sneakers, nothing prepares me for the sheer height of a  twelve-ton boat with a twelve-foot draft elevated on blocks on a trailer truck. It is hard to understand that all this is for us. Well, for Jake. It’s hard to understand what it must have cost to bring this truck all this way with his boat on it. Still, she is the most beautiful boat I have ever seen, and I love her more than I have ever loved a thing.

Jake has chosen her to come with red sails. Deep, dark brownish red sails that go with her teak trim. Johan warrants its own boxes of perfectly polished antique brass lamps on gimbals, GPS systems and sheets of four-hundred-dollar marine plywood. And the reason she needs all this as Jake slowly but surely builds her interior (with my assistance) is because Jake will be sailing her solo transatlantic. Everything must be “capable of withstanding a north Atlantic gale” he says again and again. He is building his dream, and his dream is to be away from us.

About The Author

Stephanie Hubbard

Stephanie Hubbard is an award-winning documentary film editor based in Los Angeles.  Her work has been shown on PBS, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and at the Sundance Film Festival. She’s had plays produced at Sacred Fools Theater and won awards for her poetry and short form memoirs, one of which was made into an award-winning short film that won best short film at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was screened as part of Sundance.

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05 2010

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