My pearly friend

We have time these days to take care of things while being moored in Alta Guest Harbor. This is the second largest private harbor in Norway and they have a nice safe harbor with plenty of boats. All though there is not too many tourists in this part of the country, there is a small area for traveling people like us. The best about having time to ourselves is to finally getting things done. There is a free flow of creativity and time to enjoy life onboard the magical FF Ella.

Let me tell you a little story; This happened long before I was Captain myself, when I was just a lightweight sailor onboard a pirate ship. My captain was none other than the fearless Captain Skjeggstubb, and he was not a man you would end up in trouble with. He was known all over the world for being a bit of a tyrant who always got what he wanted.

Most of the time I stayed away from him, preferably on the other side of the ship because he could get very angry if someone walked in front of him. But even though he was quite strict, he was a good Captain and had many times saved the entire crew and the ship out of scary situations in several of the worst storms you can imagine. It was said that Captain Skjeggstubb could survive all the sea could throw at him, and so it came to pass that in spite of his cruel sides he was a great and respected man in all the ports we visited, or robbed.

At this time I was no more than twelve or thirteen years old, and that made me the youngest pirate on board. That’s why I also got the worst jobs. The hardest and dirtiest. Because I was so small and light, they often hoisted me high up in the mast to check that everything was fine. You can imagine how scary this was when the ship tilted from side to side in many meters high waves. It was purely like a huge carousel for one person, not purely a little dangerous. But I was determined to do everything I was asked to do, because ever since I was a little boy, even smaller than I was then, I was going to be a real Captain on my own pirate ship.

It was a very stormy night that we sailed sheltered on an undiscovered island in the vast Atlantic Ocean. The ship was on its way to the Maldives to help those who lived there relieve them of some of their gold. The Captain said we had more than enough space on board to help the locals with this, although it ended up with half of the crew having to sleep on the floor all the way home. That’s how Captain Skjeggstubb was, our treasures almost always came first. And since the crew were equally fond of gold and riches, we all agreed. For every gold coin we robbed, I was one step closer to getting my own ship, and soon enough I would be the youngest pirate captain to ever sail the world’s oceans.

We had sailed through the storm on 10 maybe 15 meter high waves for two days and the crew was quite exhausted. Captain Skjeggstubb navigated us in between steep mountains and into a small lagoon. The angry seas around us calmed down immediately as we sailed through the narrow mouth of the lagoon and in front of us an oasis appeared that made every man on deck stop his work just staring. Even Captain Skjeggstubb took off his storm goggles and lifted his hat to his chest. It was some of the most beautiful I had ever seen.

Large beautiful palm trees with coconuts dove over a chalk-white beach and the scrub jungle between the trees stretched far into the valley. From one side we could hear the faint rumble of a long, high waterfall running straight into the turquoise waters we had sailed into. The contrast to the storm outside was so great that several of the crew shed a tear. For even hard-boiled pirates like us, have to bow when you see something as beautiful as this place. I was sure this was what the men on board had described as paradise.

In the background of it all, a large pointed volcano rose and a faint streak of smoke testified that it was active and watching over the island we had found. But that only made it even more magical. The high mountains also made sure that it was not only completely windless, but even the rain seemed to slip past this place. Right above us, the sky had turned blue and the sun was shining on the drawn ship with an equally wet crew.

“Drop Anchor!” Cried Captain Beard. And so we did.

When the ship was safely moored, the Captain gave permission to go ashore, and it did not take long before 20 men lay on the beach across, while sticky wet clothes hung to dry in the trees behind. It was sent around large bottles of rum which they mixed with the milk from the coconuts. The chef had lit a fire and now he made a whole wild boar on a spear. Only Captain Skjeggstubb was left on board the ship as he used to. He rarely went ashore if he could escape. ‘It does not swing enough under the legs’ he used to say.

But the rest of us had the best day for as long as I could remember, and after the food was eaten, it did not take long before all the adults were drunk from all the alcohol digging the beach. Therefore, I decided to go on a voyage of discovery.

I wandered into the jungle and away from the beach. Trees and shrubs grew densely and it did not take long before you could barely make out the light from the sky above. There were large flowers in all kinds of colors. Everywhere there were strange birds of all sizes and between all of this I saw a snake, but I was not afraid. After all, I was a pirate, and pirates are not afraid.

I was just about to turn around and go back when a monkey jumped down the path in front of me. I had never seen a monkey before, but heard the others in the crew tell stories about them. They were supposed to be very naughty. This one just seemed curious, shaking his head and wondering what kind of guy I was for one. I told him. Said I was Timmy, soon to be the greatest pirate captain in the whole world. Then he gave me a round ball, a pearl. I had only seen these once before and they were very expensive. I assumed it was a sacrificial gift to his new friend. I myself only had a small purse in my pocket, it was almost empty, there were only a few coins there, not enough for a meal even, so I gave my new friend the purse. He became very interested in it and jumped for joy when he understood how to open and close it. And when I tied it around his neck so he could carry it with him, he wrapped himself around my neck and gave me a big hug.

We played together for a long time, it was the coolest playmate I had had since we left our home port well over half a year ago. We slammed between the trees and raced through the jungle. I had completely lost track of where we were and eventually we came out on an opening. Completely stunned, I stood staring, because in the middle of the square there was a huge pile of pearls, the pile was much higher than me and my new friend ran straight up the pile to throw the precious pearls over him so they rained down on us .

It was not so difficult to understand that this was his treasure. The shiny shiny pearls lay in the thousands and we both sat in silence looking at them while we showed each other some extra large and pretty. Think of everything I could buy with these pearls! I asked him nicely if I could get any of them, and he certainly understood what I meant because he held out a handful. I tied my shirt in my arms and made a bag out of it. Together we filled it to the brim with the treasure. He certainly did not mind so much that I took as many as I could carry. Besides, one did not even see on the mound that any incision had been made there.

It was as much gems in my shirt as I could carry the through the dense jungle, I could not guess my way back either, but the monkey ran in front of me to showed the way. When we returned to the place where we had met many hours earlier, the monkey stopped. He probably wouldn’t follow me anymore. I understood that we had come to the end of our acquaintance. A brief friendship I had never experienced before. We gave each other one last hug before the little friend disappeared up into the trees as abruptly as he had appeared.

When I got to the beach it was late in the afternoon and my pirate friends had just started to wake up from their sleep. It did not take long, however, before they jumped and danced around me when they discovered what I was presenting to them.
‘Timmy has found a treasure! We are rich! ” They hugged me as they threw me into the air and welcomed me back down again.
“Get the Captain, he must see this!”

Not long after, Captain Skjeggstubb was rowed out to the beach. He walked towards me on the beach where I was standing with the huge pile of pearls in front of me.
“Yeah Sailor,” he said, “I must say, a little of a treasure you have found us arrr?”
I had already decided to lie, it would be almost impossible to trace back to the open plain and I would not take any more from my new friend more than he had already given me. That’s why I said, ‘Yes, Captain, Sir. I’ve been picking pearls for many hours. But I think this is all because I did not find more in the last hour. “

The captain measured me with his eyes, but I could swear I sensed a small smile behind his stubble.
«Very well worked sailor! You deserve a reward for this, since you have been alone in this feat, I will give you every twentieth gem you have brought back to us, you deserve it. “
There was nothing to argue about, it was also much more than I could have hoped for. For all taxes on board were to be placed in the treasury and only divided among the crew when we returned to the castle in the home port.
“It will also be a good penny for the whole crew out of this. You can thank Timmy here for allowing all your families to eat well for years to come. ”
One can say a lot about Captain Skjeggstubb, but he really was an honest pirate.

Of course I was very proud. Not in my wildest fantasies would I think that these pearls were worth so much. Later in the evening, when all the pearls were counted, I had 37 gems in my bedside drawer. And there was a good atmosphere and party among the crew, everyone was happy with an extra bonus. The next morning the storm was out of the question and we sailed on to the Maldives where new adventures awaited, but that’s a story for another time.

It’s not necessary to tell you what I used my pearls for, is it? A few years later, I swapped about half of them into my first ship, and do you wonder which volcanic island I first sat course for?