No Safe Harbor

Daniel Budin owns one of the most famous ships on Earth. Not surprisingly, that didn't stop the Miami police from messing with him.

Keeping up two extremely old and luxurious boats is no small enterprise. Budin purchased Souqui for $120,000 seventeen years ago and has since poured in "at least half that amount" to renovate and maintain the craft. Its efficient but 70-year-old German-built engine also requires care and replacement parts. "It just reaches a point where I don't want to keep spending so much money on [Souqui]," Budin says. Losing that boat equipment after his car was towed wasn't a crushing financial blow, but it did put an end to any capricious spending. "I used to spend a lot of money on the boat," Budin says. "Now I only buy what's necessary, and I don't go out to eat." He does admit, though, to occasionally splurging when he visits the Sailor Man, a ship supplier in Fort Lauderdale. He bought toilets the last time, three beautiful porcelain commodes for $250 apiece -- new they're $2000, he adds, almost apologetically. Reliable waste disposal, of course, is important on transatlantic voyages.

Budin also bought a used microwave oven for the journey. He installed it in the galley that he remodeled long ago, a clean and orderly area with spacious workspaces brightened by gleaming copper pots and pans hanging in rows. He toiled at tasks great (cleaning the two 600-gallon diesel fuel tanks, which require crawling, masked, into the tanks and scrubbing off the accumulated grunge) and small, such as assembling a quaint bronze CD rack from spare materials in his workshop. Three weeks before his crew (all friends) flew in from Paris, one member became ill with malaria and had to drop out. A Miami friend and seasoned sailor will serve as the fifth crewmember. Budin would prefer a six-person team but doesn't doubt this one can get Souqui across the ocean in good shape.

Another friend recently urged him to read Joseph Conrad, whose dark allegories about seafaring life in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries are considered some of the greatest works in the English language. Budin confesses he was immediately captivated by Conrad's books (in French translation) and has even copied a few Conradian phrases into the 110-year-old logbook he keeps in the ship's airy navigation room along with the CD player, Global Positioning System, shortwave radio, and a large bottle of Cuban rum. "Qui aime la mer aussi le train train de la vie a bord," reads one quotation. "He who loves the sea also loves the routine work onboard the ship."

Budin bought Souqui eighteen years ago and often was seen drifting down the Seine
photo courtesy Daniel Budin
Budin bought Souqui eighteen years ago and often was seen drifting down the Seine

Budin has loved the sea and the exhilarating work of sailing for almost as long as he can remember. This long voyage across the Atlantic will be the one sure thing to help him over the trauma of last Christmas. He'll leave Miami and it will all become, as Joseph Conrad wrote in his 1900 novel Lord Jim, "an incident as completely devoid of importance as the flooding of an ant heap." But it will make for a pretty good miasmic Miami tale.

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