|Posing for the media; Moto at the tiller in the background.|
Nick, our first mate, was a stolid man, reliable. He was in his thirties and knew English pretty well.
The other two were in their twenties. Moto was gentle, quiet, and kept himself in the background. When the Honolulu Star-Bulletin wanted a picture of the Phoenix under sail off Diamond Head, the rest of us lined up along the rails for the photographer on a boat pacing us. Moto (I notice now) stayed in the cockpit steering. That was so typical of him.
Mickey was different. He spent our whole shakedown cruise from Japan in his bunk seasick (well, it was a rough and scary trip and his bunk--and Moto's--were in the fo'c'sle, which has the roughest ride). When pressed, he finally had Nick tell us he thought it would help if he could have "a little rice gruel like my mother used to make." So Mum, who already made three meals a day--meals for all seven of us with Japanese rice and miso soup for the three Japanese men--set to work to make Mickey rice gruel the way his mother used to make it..
Mickey didn't like to work (he prided himself on growing his little fingernails out about an inch like Japanese "gentlemen" so he couldn't do much work anyway) although he didn't mind taking credit for it, and he didn't like taking orders. Despite repeated instructions, he'd let other ships approach too close in the middle of the night before waking the skipper to inform him there was a ship in sight.
Whatever real offenses he may have committed, Mickey became our scapegoat for everything. When our black cat Manuia turned up with a stripe of white paint down her back, I blamed Mickey. (I should have known it was more in the line of my father's type of humor.)
|Moto, Mickey, Nick|
Nick staunchly chose to stay with us. For some reason, Moto chose to be sent home with Mickey. We liked Moto. We liked his cheerful personality and his hard work. Setting sails or mending them, he'd quietly do what needed to be done whether assigned the job or not. We had no issues with Moto and were sad that he chose to leave. We weren't sure whether it was out of loyalty to Mickey, issues with Skipper's authoritarianism, or homesickness.
Three years later when we reached Japan, Nick became a celebrity, the first Japanese to sail around the world. Toward the end of our trip Nick had taken to wearing a wide wool cummerbund. I wonder now whether he wore it to ease pain because soon after our return to Hiroshima he went in for surgery for stomach cancer and died on the operating table.
Meanwhile, Moto had settled back into Japanese life and had met the woman he wanted to marry--a hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivor). Most Japanese discriminated against hibakusha and would not consider marrying someone (or arranging a marriage for their grown child with someone) carrying potential mutations that might affect future generations.
We've never heard what happened to Mickey after he left the Phoenix.
(To be continued)