It is an unusually pensive evening, brought on by having just paid my taxes. Necessities in maintaining Mabrouka and preparing her for cross-Pacific sailing have incurred heavier withdrawals from my retirement than I’d anticipated, while stupid blunders and laziness in paying attention to monetary details have made it cost more than it should have. Resentment at having to make support payments to a government I’ve all but divorced and a stronger dose of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum than usual have made the darkening sky feel like a shroud upon the evening.

Having clicked on TurboTax’s final “Proceed” button to send a preposterous sum off to the IRS, interest and fees included, I moved out to lounge in Mabrouka’s spacious cockpit with my liquid consolation to witness the day’s demise and the evening’s gloating encroachment on the bay. I’m once again anchored off seedy (but free) Club Nautico in Mazatlan’s commercial harbor with the rocky, scrub-dappled mounds of the enclosing islands and jagged grey breakwaters turning to black shadows against the indigo sunset. There is a derelict sailboat nearby that reflects my mood, its stoic hull riding gracefully at anchor while its mast flaunts tattered sails in the evening sky.

It’s funny how I haven’t written of my sailing adventures in so long, yet I’m inspired to divulge the melancholy brought about by this American rite of sacrificing one’s hard-earned dollars to good ol’ Uncle Sam. My mood is unfair to the fulfilling months I’ve spent sailing among the humpback whales, reveling so many evenings away with my cruising friends, and enjoying a life upon the sea that is bounteous in so many ways, …camaraderie, beauty, relaxation, joy, adventure.

Look away, now, ye with faint senses of propriety. The evening breeze was balmy, if not cool, compared to the hothouse climate that hung below in Mabrouka like molasses all the Mexican winter day long. With a sudden urge to be rid of limits, I cast off what little clothing I wore and lounged, naked, on the cushions of Mabrouka’s cockpit. There was no eroticism to it, no lasciviousness, just a desire to clutch for every shred of freedom that my life in that minute would allow. If I’d truly felt liberated, I would have stood up and taken a casual evening stroll around my decks, but there were one or two recent arrivals that had dropped their anchors within easy sight of such bold exposure, so I refrained from exposition, however innocent, and stayed recumbent within the relative privacy of the cockpit, enjoying the gentle breeze on my skin and the last taste of rum on my tongue.

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