One day we were approached by Captain Ed Powers of
the Gloria, a beautiful 64-foot schooner anchored in the
inner harbor. We had talked to him when we first scouted
the scene and he had told us he was heading south and
through the canal to the Caribbean. But he was waiting
for someone to charter the schooner. No charter clients
had showed up. Now he was willing to take us, if we
would help him repair the damage he had suffered in a
squall off Nicaragua. We moved on board that same day,
loading the cycle in his skiff and then winching it on
board the schooner. We went to work on the damaged
rigging, replacing broken stays, realigning cables,
patching the mainsail and getting ready for the voyage to
Panama. Both of us had experience sailing. Naren had
crewed with an uncle in Argentina and was quite well
versed in nautical lore. He even knew how to use a
sextant. While we did the repairs the captain laid in
supplies: mostly cheap canned goods and what turned
out to be our staple, a full stalk of still green but ripening
bananas. Over the next three weeks I heard his story,
which struck me as the tale of a classic American hustler.
Photo by Naren Bali