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Finally. Race weekend. My first IndyCar race. OK, I know this is insane, but hey, why not. It has been busy. I am getting way too much attention. I'm not that thrilled with that part, but it goes with the job. And what a job it is. I've spent a lot of time in the car, on various tracks, but nothing quite like the streets of St. Pete. It's funny, I've ridden in the car in St. Pete dozens of times, but can't legally drive by myself. But now I'm going to be driving a race car on the same streets, at stupid speeds, and that's OK. Odd.
Juanita is pleased, as Ted's staying with her during race week. I'm not sure they're as close, but they still seem to enjoy each other's company.
I don't even know where to start in this story. I guess with the Friday driver's meeting. I was well-known enough to not have any trouble getting in, but was surprised with the open hostility. Most of the drivers were pretty cool, and welcomed me like any other rookie, ignoring that I was a 15 year old girl. That was nice. A few, though, wouldn't shake my hand and made snarky comments in that 'loud whisper voice' where you know they want you to hear. I just ignored them. The meeting started and Jay got up. You know, the CEO of IndyCars.
"OK, quiet down. We're going to address something head on and I'm sorry Morgan, but this will probably embarrass you. First, I want to thank those of you that welcomed Morgan as the professional she is. We all, including Morgan, know her circumstances are unusual, but ticket sales are up 70% over last year, and the vast majority are teen and preteen girls and their Moms, a group that hasn't exactly been a core audience for us. Morgan's presence is empowering for these young women and that is a good thing. Now, when I walked in, I heard a few of you making comments that were wildly inappropriate. I don't know if you truly believe what you were saying, or were just going along to get along, or what I truly suspect, which is you're worried you'll get your ass kicked by a 15 year old girl. Well, I'll tell you what, you probably will, and if it was me, my attitude would be that the better driver won. Now I can't control your feelings, but I can control how you express them, so let me make this clear. If you are caught on tape, even by a fan's phone camera, making any negative comments about Morgan, you're out of the race. Period. No exceptions. No appeal. Out. Don't think you'll find a friendly audience either. The publicity we'll get for throwing you out is better than what we would get for letting you get away with it. If that means we run this race with Morgan and the dozen or so of you that I know support her, we'll do it. Now, before you start screaming First Amendment, that's now how it works. It does not and has never applied to a private organization like ours. So get over it and get out there and race, and I predict that yes, a number of you will get your ass kicked by a 15 year old girl because, at the heart of all this, she is a better driver than you are. Meeting over," said Jay.
Before we adjourned, one of the veteran drivers asked if he could speak. Yes, I'd heard what he said, and it wasn't very nice.
"OK everybody, I need to say this. I was one of the people, in this meeting, that said some pretty nasty things about Morgan, and I am sure she heard me. So I am up here to publicy apologize. What I said was wrong, and if someone had said those things about my teenage daughter, I would have kicked their ass. What Jay said really hit home. I don't believe those things, at my core, and yes, part of it was going along when the talk started, but what he said is likely true. I have seen this young woman race. If you haven't seen her win the Vegas cup, in carts, in one of her first races, watch the tape. You only have to watch the last 30 seconds of the race. The rest doesn't matter. I started in carts. She won that race by making a move in the last turn that was amazing. I wouldn't have made the move then. I wouldn't make the move now. Hell, let's be honest. I couldn't have made that move. I would have been in the hay bales and there isn't a driver in this room, except Morgan, that would have tried it and succeeded. She. is. that. good. So I'll say it again. I am sorry Morgan for my comments. They do not represent me as a person, and it was a failing. You have my support, and may the best driver win. I don't know if you'll win this weekend, but it truly wouldn't surprise me. If you don't, you will soon. Oh, one last thing. You folks do realize she won seven of the last ten NASCAR races, right? Maybe you don't, but you should. I watched those races too, not because I'm a NASCAR fan, but because they were won by a new driver against whom I would be competing. Be worried guys, be worried. She has bigger balls than any of us. Thank you."
I wasn't sure what to do. Do I just sit there? No, that's not me. I stood up and walked to the front of the room and stuck out my hand. I don't know how, but a picture of that photo was on the cover of Sports Illustrated the next week. I'll explain why in a minute.
For the next two hours, I walked the track. Most drivers used golf carts, but I liked to be closer to it and walk it. The track is only 1.8 miles, so even at a slow pace it didn't take more than 45 minutes, and I walked it twice. The second lap, several drivers asked if they could walk with me. I don't know whether they thought it would be good for their driving, or were just doing it to be nice, but I appreciated it and yes, some photos of it ended up in the article. I wanted to do one last lap, but for some reason no one went with me. Oh yeah, that's because I did it at a fast jog. I hadn't run today, and needed it, so what the hell. Two birds and all that. And yes, I did have my picture taken. Oh well. OK, I admit I was wearing cheer shorts and a tank top, um, without a bra. Yes, I chose that on purpose. Some of driving was mental, and I was fucking with them. OK, and I liked cheer shorts and a tank top. Although my breasts did bounce too much. Next time a sports bra.
Finally the track opened up for two hours of practice and I used it to learn my line. I'm all about the line. It was obvious, to me, pretty soon that my line had some radical differences to everybody else. There were three corners where I braked later. Much later. There were another three where I cut the corner tighter and got on the gas earlier. On a normal track, that was a disadvantage, as there wouldn't be as much rubber laid down and it would be skittish. On a road course, meaning on real roads, everything was skittish. I gave the Andretti team credit, my car was solid, but I was also running less wing and yes, the press noticed. I don't care. My car, my race. I was getting faster on my line, even though I wasn't pushing it yet, and I ended the session with the second fastest time. That was just fine with me. I knew I had more, and people thought it was my best. Cool beans.
The next morning, Saturday, was free practice and qualifying. Unlike Indy, where qualifying was an event, here it was just like carts. 2 hours, all the laps you want, everything timed. I decided to set my pace early, and then spend the rest of my time trying to beat it. On my third lap, it felt really good. I had my line solid, I made it through all those corners, it just felt good. Marco radioed me that I was in first. They usually stayed off the radio, so I asked what the margin was. Anything over a half second was a solid lead.
"Four seconds," came the reply. Four seconds? Four seconds? That can't be. I asked him to repeat.
"Four point 3 to be exact," came the reply. Hot damn. Holy fuck hot damn. Marco actually suggested I come in and only go back out if someone challenged me. He reminded me the race was tomorrow and that no one ran the whole two hours.
"No one doesn't include me," I replied. "And seriously, you actually suggested that? Have you never met me? I'll be careful with your toy Marco." Well, if careful included going balls to the wall for another hour and forty-five minutes. I know if I wrecked in practice, I would let the team down, but I honestly needed the laps. So, I did what I would do, and ran, and ran. In the end, I carved off another second and a half. No one had improved more than a few tenths, so I won the pole by six seconds on a track less than two miles long. I later learned it was a record for both the lap and the gap. Well good. Fuck'em if they can't take a joke.
The next morning we had the pre-race drivers meeting and it was uneventful. Nobody said a word, admittedly under the threat of losing their ride. At the end, one of the other drivers asked if he could say something briefly. Now this guy was the worst. I'd read his comments before we got here and he was vicious. He had been careful to not mention my age or sex, but had focused on my being an untested rookie, and how dangerous it would be, and how IndyCars was just doing it for the publicity. OK, that last one was probably true. So I admit I was nervous when he got up. He only said one short sentence.
"Flag to flag Morgan," and then sat down.
OK, I was a girl and teared up a bit, because the drivers all gave that line a standing ovation. I got a lot of back slaps and handshakes. No one went for the hug, which made me laugh a little.
I could spend twenty pages describing the entire race as it was amazing, and a little terrifying. Did I deserve to be here? I questioned myself, but in the end, hell yes I did. I dominated the last 10 races of NASCAR. I deserved this. But I won't make you slog through all that, because I can describe the race in one sentence.
"Flag to flag baby."
Yes, I won, and I won by a big margin. A margin that will be hard to ever beat. I pulled into the winner's circle and they were at least ready for me. No champagne for me, so they took a page from Indy and handed me a glass quart of milk. Damn, I hate milk, but I drank a little for the cameras. So that's how the picture ended up on the cover of SI. The driver whose hand I shook came in second. Here's his quote from the article and they published it verbatim.
"Yes, I had my doubts about Morgan, but deep down I was afraid of her, and that turned out to be prophetic. She kicked my ass. She came damn close to lapping me and I came in second. She drove that course in a way none of us could. Her car wasn't any faster than mine, hell it might not have been as fast, but she out drove all of us. To put it bluntly, her balls are bigger than mine."
Yes, even that last line made it on ESPN. So that's how I won my first race as a rookie. Now I'd love to say I stormed through then next few races winning them all, but I didn't. The ovals didn't allow as much of an edge. I won one, and came in second on the other two, to a faster car. Yes, I gave Marco shit about that, and the team worked on it. I did win the two road races, setting track records in both qualifying and the race. Road courses were mine. Finally, we got to the main event. Indy.
So anyway. Steven. He had an idea for a TV special. Steven in TV? Why not. He had a script idea in his head, a comedy with drama, for years, and never took the time to write the complete script. He said he tried, over and over, but he kept throwing away drafts, as they didn't work. His idea was to have the kids do it as a two hour special, instead of a movie. Apparently the theme is uplifting and powerful, which is good, and he wanted it accessible. His idea was that they'd do it live. He'd give them the scene outline right before the show started, for about 15 minutes of dialogue and they'd just do it. Then, during a commercial, he'd do it again, over and over, until it was done. All the networks were vying to buy it, but his idea was to do it as a benefit for the Hayden Foundation. The network would have to agree that every single commercial was a PSA for Hayden. He'd get his friends to do the PSAs. He said everyone that was at the screening had already agreed. Tom, Meryl, Leo, and the rest, plus several more that would run during prime time.
It was a fascinating idea and required no prep from the kids, other than an outline of their characters. He'd adapted it to three girls and a boy, from two girls and three boys, to fit the kids. He said he couldn't think of a single other actor who could pull it off, so he'd limited it to four. He did mention that there was one critical scene that required parents and asked if Bob and I would consider wearing makeup to make us the right age. He said he could script ours or let us improvise. His theory was we were the only ones that could possibly interact with the kids and make it work. That part was a little bit of a risk, but he'd run us through it a bit, as it was critical to the entire story. Me? Bob? You're kidding, right? What's the worst case, we suck and raise a lot of money for Hayden? I said Bob and I were in, because I can make his decisions. We all know that. I said I'd ask the kids. He asked if they were around and if I'd just put them, plus Bob, on speaker. Sure, you know, Steven on speaker.
I called them all into my office and told them Steven was on the phone with an idea. He basically retold what he told me, and when he got to the part about the Hayden Foundation and the PSAs, Chris started crying. Morgan pulled her onto her lap and hugged her.
"We're in," said Morgan. "We're in. I speak for us all this time." The rest of the kids nodded. Even Chris sat up long enough to nod.
He repeated the part about Bob and me and the kids lost it laughing. Not fair kids. Not cool. Once they calmed down, they all agreed we'd be perfect and certainly could do it. Bob started to object, but I told him that I had already decided for him. He just smiled and nodded. I had. He knew it. Hey, he got to fuck me.
Steven sent us the barest outline of the project. Basically it was about a family, with four kids, that are down on their luck. The Mom gets sick, with breast cancer, and loses her job, because that's legal in the US. The Dad works a minimum wage job, but they're struggling. He keeps adding jobs, until he's working 4 different jobs, all part-time, because no one is willing to offer him benefits. The kids try their hardest, and all try to get jobs, but only the oldest girl is old enough to work. She works fast food, but is sexually harassed by her boss and finally gets raped by him. You see her going back to work the next day, because she has to. There is one scene where the two young girls, 11 and 12, try to sell themselves on the street. They're trying to save their Mom. The cops pick them up, but instead of arresting them, they take them home. As the movies moves along, they get evicted, and you see them all trying to sleep in an ancient SUV. The movie ends at the funeral of the mother. The kids are fucking amazing. They love each other, but their situation is trying, and they fight constantly. They take their anger at their situation out on each other, but also support each other. It's touching and scary all at the same time. Bob and I have very small parts, just to fill in the story. Mostly you see us from a distance. Me in a hospital bed, me bald. Bob at work, sweeping, or cleaning a toilet. Our primary job is to show dispair. Steven decided we wouldn't have any dialogue. Our story was told through the vignettes. You learn I have cancer when the shoot zooms in on my IV and you see the medicine. Google had a huge spike moments after that, from people googling the medicine only to find out it is chemo therapy. At one point, they bind my breasts, and it really looks like I had a double masectomy. They save the last four minutes for a final PSA. It's the kids, live. Chris is in front, with the other three kids a step back. She makes an impassioned plea that this is not the way it should be. She challenges our country that this is just not right. That people shouldn't be homeless and die just because they get sick. By the end of the four minutes, she is almost yelling and it ends with her standing there in tears. They all have tears streaming down their faces. Then it goes dark, with text that shows how to donate to the Hayden Foundation. Donations are off the charts. As I think we mentioned, we had started a PAC - the Hayden PAC - focused on donating to candidates that support univeral healthcare. That's on the final text too, the only time it is mentioned in any PSA. Donations to that spike too.
We were all supposed to stay with Steven that night, but the kids said they couldn't do it. They needed to be alone, together. They asked if they could stay on the plane by themselves. Everyone understood. They were emotionally drained. We all were, but it hit them the hardest.
We are so proud of our children. They are changing lives. Chris can tell the story of their evening.
Holy shit we were wiped out. Not physically, emotionally. Steven had only told us a family 'down on their luck'. Seeing Mom in the hospital bed. Seeing Dad cleaning toilets. Seeing Mom without her breasts. It was so believeable. The scene where Morgan goes to work the day after her boss raped her, and he is going to be there. You never see him. There were only the six of us in the entire two hours. The scene that affected me the most was standing on the street, with Leslie, dressed like sluts. We had to figure out the scene, change into those clothes and start, all in 90 seconds. We mostly stood there, holding each other, shivering. There wasn't much dialogue. There didn't need to be. The movie was told in the photography. It was raw. It felt raw. I need a long, hot shower.
I am not sure I want Steven to call us again. I know what we do works, but it takes a part of us with it. The only thing driving us is Hayden, and that's for me. That's for my parents. My family does all this for me. God I love them.
We took an Uber to the plane. We didn't even want to get a ride. We didn't want to see or talk to anyone. We had a pizza delivered to the FBO and ate it on the plane. I don't think we said a word to each other. We just sat there, chewing our pizza, in our own little world. The fact we were sitting on our fucking airliner, eating a pizza, while men and women and kids were dying because they didn't have health insurance was not lost on us. We know we can't save them all, but we damn well were going to try to change policy. I don't give a fuck that I am 11 years old. A lot of adults were fucking up. It was our time. The kids were in charge and I was going to be one of them. I was willing to bet that all of my siblings felt the same way. They may not be my blood, but they sure as fuck are my family. This was going to be the day I will remember that I changed. We changed.
We finished our dinner and cleaned up. We just looked at each other. I walked up to the master bedroom and they all followed me. No one had spoken a word. I took off my clothes and got in the shower. They all undressed, but gave me my moment. I didn't want it. I waved Morgan in. She washed me, so gently, and washed my hair. I did the same for her. Nothing sexual, just washing off what we had just been through. We got out and dried each other off, while Leslie and Orlando did the same thing. Once we were dry, we climbed in the big bed. I was in the middle next to Leslie, and Orlando was next to Leslie and Morgan was next to me. Orlando understood I needed my sisters, but he needed us too. We didn't do anything. We didn't feel it. We just laid there, in our own worlds, for a long time. I don't know who fell asleep first, but eventually we all did. We didn't sleep well.
We slept forever. We slept for ten hours. Our bodies, and our minds, needed it. We finally woke up, when the sun got too bright. That's when we needed to release our energy. We were raw and it showed. It was rough. It was passionate. We were in bed for two hours. I'm surprised no one was physically hurt. Finally we collapsed. This time, Orlando washed my hair. I needed him to understand that I loved him, but would struggle with men for a bit. He got it. We didn't discuss it. We still hadn't spoken. None of us. Finally we left the bedroom and walked out to the living room and we left it all behind. We had to. We just had to.
Mom and Dad came back first. No one else. You could tell they were worried about us. I think we hugged them for 15 minutes, in a giant group hug. I think they were struggling too. Especially Mom. No one was more vulnerable than Mom. I was so proud of them both. They poured everything into it, just like we did. We're all fucking rich, and somehow we weren't. We WERE that family. Dad told us that he had asked if we could have the SUV that was in the movie. The one we were living in. He said it was going into the musuem in our house, right at the glass, so every time we walked by we would appreciate our good fortune. We all teared up. No one understood more than I did. Finally I had to speak.
"OK, everyone," I said. "Listen up. It's time to be over this. It was incredible and draining and scary and raw. I am not even sure I can watch it. But it is time to stop. No one is closer to this than I am. I know you three lost your parents, but you had Bob, and then Amy. I didn't. I only had Billy, and he just couldn't do it. I would have been the 11 year old girl on the street, except for you, my family. This movie touched me in a way it couldn't touch you all, but I know it did you too. But it is time to be be DONE. I am putting my foot down. We are going to go change into swim suits and we're going to Venice Beach. We're going to rent roller skates and have a wonderful day not really knowing how to roller skate. We're going to fall on our ass, and probably skin our knees, and we're going to fucking laugh our asses off. I have spoken and it will be done."
Everyone just stared at me and it was like someone turned on their ability to speak. They didn't talk about me, or the movie, or anything related. They talked about Venice Beach. We were done. We had to be.
We finally did watch the movie, when we got home. No, we relived the movie. It was so hard. We repeated our passion, this time with Mom and Dad. We had to.
It won the Emmy for Outstanding Television movie. We wouldn't allow them to nominate us. It wasn't about us. We leveraged the win for donations. That was the point. The four of us started visiting children's hospitals around the country. It became our passion. It had to. I know, I've said that line a lot, but it applies.
The Indianapolis 500. An Oval. Shit. We spent the entire month in Indianapolis and had four days when we rented the track which, well, isn't done. Marco's engine builder had some ideas, but needed a lot laps. Twice we ran a full race. Yes, my two teammates and I (one of whom was Ted) ran an entire 500 mile race, as a race, pit stops and all. The car was faster. Measurably faster. I won the practice race. You knew I would, didn't you? Ted was improving and I didn't win by as much as I expected. Yay Ted.
We made it through qualifications which truly is an event. I've heard it is the second largest crowd in sports, behind only the race itself. It is fucking amazing. 200,000+ people to watch you qualify. Nuts. I'd like to say I won the pole, which is handy, because I won the pole. Our team qualified 1-2-3, with Ted beside me and Marco next to him. Yes, the boss was racing today. I have the greatest photo on my wall of the three of us, helmets off, next to our cars, right before we got in the cars to race. There is a huge crowd in the background and we're all grinning like little kids. I love my team. We're all a little in awe of being here and truly support each other. I've seen the backstabbing on other teams. Not here. Never. Marco chose his drivers carefully.
Yeah, I could bore you with 4 hours of racing, but I won't. You know my motto by now, right?
Flag to flag.
But my day wasn't over. I still had the Charlotte race. You'd forgotten that, hadn't you? I didn't even go to the winner's circle, which was a little disappointing, but I had places to be. I RAN to the waiting helicopter and flew to the airport. Waiting at the FBO was an F-22 fighter jet. The only trainer ever made, so it had two seats. Yeah, Tom arranged it and, yes, Mom paid for it, which we made sure was public info. I changed into my flight suit on the helicopter, admittedly giving the pilots a little show. Didn't intend to, but I was sweating and, well, needed to change my underwear too. Hope they enjoyed it. I know the co-pilot did. She couldn't stop staring. No, the girls didn't fly me. They couldn't get to the helicopter fast enough. They were actually in another helicopter, and would fly the BFP down. They'd miss a little of the race though.
I ran to the plane and climbed right in. While I was strapping in, we were moving. We took off and DAMN flying in an F-22 is a rush. Just damn. The pilot introduced himself as Cliff and was clearly having a ball. We'd invited him into our suite at the race, but the Air Force had a different idea, and he was going to do two flyovers. The first, with me IN the plane, the second right before the race. Showmanship is never a bad thing.
We landed and I hopped right into another helicopter and changed into my racing suit. Yeah, they got a nice view too, but this time I didn't need fresh underwear. I still think they enjoyed it. We landed inside the track and someone handed me my helmet and told me to run. He took off and I followed him. Not a minute after I was in the car, the race started. Now we all know they would have waited for me. Showmanship again, you know. But remember my motto?
Flag to flag.
Damn straight I did.
I think the funniest part was the interview after the race. I hadn't mentioned it to anyone, but the interviewer made a comment about my not being able to get my license but winning two events in a day.
"Not anymore," I replied, and she got a quizzical look on her face. "Today's my birthday. I'll get my license Tuesday, when I get back to Florida. Finally." Even the news anchor laughed, and that clip played over and over, on everything from ESPN to CNN. It was funny. I didn't plan it, but well, OK. Hey, in some states I was a legal fuck now!
OK, story over. That's enough about my racing. It's my passion, but probably a boring read. Good thing the family brought the BFP. We needed to celebrate and, oh my, we did.
"Mom and Dad, we need to talk," said Chris. Not the words parents wanted to hear from an 11 year old. Our looks must have betrayed us, because they both laughed.
"No, no, its OK," she said. Interesting that Chris was in the lead. She usually defers to Leslie.
We sat up and gave them our attention.
"Leslie and I want to move up and race Class 1 offshore boats," she said. "It is only a three race season, and works around our current races but is a bigger and faster two man boat," she said. "Or two girl boat." We all laughed a that. Boat racing. That's why Chris was in the lead.
"Tell us more," said Amy.
"They're 52 foot catamarans. They're faster and can do 160 knots. The races are three day events, but they'll give us a waiver to come in Friday night," she said. "They're two person because I would be the pilot and Leslie would run the throttles."
"How does that work?," I asked. "How could you split those two jobs."
"By telepathy," said Leslie. Yes we laughed.
"Seriously, it requires absolute trust," said Chris. "No team would have more trust."
"Why this, why now, how much," said Amy, cutting to the chase.
"In order, because it is the top class, like IndyCar. Because the season starts in a month. Nothing," said Chris.
"Ok," said Amy. "I get the first two, but nothing?"
"The race series is struggling a bit and needs fresh blood and excitement and another team," said Leslie. "They also want an American team, since they don't have one right now. Chris is a big name in racing right now and draws crowds of girls and their parents. People that never came before. I'm just there to be pretty and I've got that covered." More laughter, of course.
"As for free, the series President contacted us," added Chris. "They have all the sponsors lined up as well as the boat manufacturer. For some reason they think two 11 year old girls in tiny bikinis will spice up the series." We all laughed again. Yes, yes it would.
"They offered us $100k each, per race, as an appearance fee, plus any prize money," said Chris. "We said we would only do it if they donated it to Hayden not to us. We don't need the money and that let's us stay as amateurs."
"Well, it sounds like you have thought this through. When and where are the races?", said Amy. Yeah, I didn't have much of a role. I rarely do.
Chris rattled off dates and why they would work for the family. It meant Amy and I would have to split up on one weekend.
"Yes, it means one of you will miss one of Morgan's races. We are sorry about that but Morgan already agreed and was pleased for us. We would need Dad with us."
"Why me?", I asked.
"Because it is in Abu Dhabi. We have to have a male escort. We also have to where shorty wet suits. No skin at that race," said Leslie.
Abu Dhabi. I wonder where the other races are. Apparently Amy is teaching them to read minds.
"The first race is in Miami which is good," said Chris. "The last race is in Venice. Italy. If all goes well, they might add a race or two."
Well that worked out well.
"The offer comes with a complete crew. It is a big deal running one of these," said Leslie. Already working as a team. Both talking. Like sisters. They're tough.
"So what's next?," said Amy.
"We need your signature and we need another lift. A big lift for a catamaran," said Chris, handing Amy a release from. Amy, not me. "The crew to build the lift will be here in an hour. We gave them a bonus to finish it today. The boat and our coach arrive tomorrow. He will be staying with us for a week or two. They're still confused on why they're delivering the boat to our house. Let'em wonder."
"Crew today. Boat and coach tomorrow," said Amy.
"We knew you'd agree. In our family, this isn't even high on the weird request list. Not even top 10," said Leslie.
"No, it it isn't," said Amy. "Gotta love your confidence." With that, she signed the form and handed it back and off went the girls. The crew was early, as we heard the truck drive up not twenty minutes later. Cutting it close girls. Just then Orlando walked in. Yeah, he had been waiting his turn.
"I need a new car," said Orlando. Our 13 year old needs a new car and we don't even know what kind of car. New drag car? New cart? "Oh, and I want to invest in a drag strip."
Well sure. Must be quite an investment. Anything up to a million, he would have just called Jason and it would have been done. Jason knows that's the kid's authority on investments. They've done well. Kids have a different perspective. So far, between the four, they've invested about $15M. Last time I looked, the fund they manage was up to almost $200M. One game company IPO that Orlando picked helped, but the big winner was a shoe company Chris picked. She had found the shoes online and bought a pair. She loved them and bought us all a pair. When she asked for $2M to invest, we immediately agreed. After all, we had the shoes on at the time and my God they're comfortable. I actually pick shoes over flip flops now. That investment is worth about $110M. I made a mental note to raise their threshold to $10M. Might as well do it now.
"Is it less than $10M?," I asked. He nodded yes. "Then do whatever you want. It's time to raise your threshold. All the kids. Let them know." Amy just smiled. Most kids get $10 a week. Our kids can spend $10M without asking.
"Yeah, well you need to agree to this one," he said. "I love to drag race but the only nearby track is short and sucks. I've been working with Jason and a commercial real estate broker. We think we can use some shell companies to buy the land to build out the quarter mile. Then we'd have to negotiate with the guy that owns that track. Even if it all works, you're flushing the money down the toilet just so I can have fun. There is no way it makes money. Worse, our family can't risk the liability of owning even part of the track. So I'm asking you to gift it to the owner. I just like to race and I'll bet Mom would race more if it was a good 1/4 mile track."
Amy nodded that she would.
"Ok, we can afford it just for fun," I said. "But I appreciate your honesty. I get why you're using the shell companies, but pay everyone a fair price. We don't need to rip anyone off. Let us know if you need anything. Tell Jason we are OK. He can sign on that account. You don't need us. No wait. Tell him to pull it from our general accounts. Let's not mess up the kids investment fund with a loss that we expected." He ran out of the room excited.
"Ok," said Amy. "That's a win for me. I'm going to have to get more work done on the wagon. I can break into the 8s." Well sure, and then go buy groceries.
With that Morgan wandered in. To our surprise, she didn't want anything.
"Yeah," she said. "I don't want anything, but Juanita does." We all laughed.
"Yes, but mine is simple," said Juanita. "Gabe and Ruby both have birthdays coming up. I wondered if it would be OK to throw them a big party here."
Amy jumped up quickly with a surprisingly angry look.
"I am pissed," shouted Amy. Juanita and I just stared, open mouthed. WTF?
But then Amy lost it, laughing. Juanita and I just looked at each other.
"Well I am disappointed," said Amy. "You and the kids are our family. This is your house too. Family doesn't ask. Family tells us the date and invites us. Family calls Jackson and makes sure this is the party to end all parties. You are family and you know it."
I looked at Juanita and saw a tear roll down her face.
"I love you all so much," was all she said and walked out.
Us too, Juanita, us too.
Blake and Alison walked in.
"Ok if we take a couple days and stay in the London place?," said Blake.
"Jesus Christ," muttered Amy, getting a strange look from them both. Yes they got a variation of the same speech. I love Amy more every single day. Every. Single. Day.
"Hey," she said. "Let's go to our room and fuck"
Well sure. Amy has the best ideas. Later in the afternoon, I wandered down to check out the new lift. The 131 was gone and they were building the lift there. I didn't even ask where it was. Chris explained where the 131 would go and explained that it was deeper water and they would allow anything up to about 450, or maybe 500 feet. Always thinking ahead that Chris. Because, you know, a 500 foot boat is something we must have. Ok, I was going to look. Do they even make 500 foot boats?
"Oh," said Chris. "They're building it so you can keep the 131 and can add two bigger boats. Might as well be prepared."
Preparation is good. Now she had tempted me too. I pulled out my phone and called Billy, Chris' grandfather. It hadn't been that long, but we caught up and I told him about Chris' new boat and invited him to dinner. He came over a lot, which was good for him and good for Chris. I think the marina was struggling so my new whim could help.
"This is a business call too," I said. "You broker larger yachts too, on a finder fee, don't you?"
"Sure," he said. "I work with a broker out of Monoco. I've never done one bigger than your Sunseeker but the process is simple. They find the boat, and if you buy it I get a 10% finders fee. But what in the world would you want? You have a 131 foot boat."
I told him that Chris had built a berth for a boat upon to 500 feet and I had a wild hair. Wasn't sure I'd do it, but thought I would see what the market was. He's well aware of our recent huge wins and knows we have stupid money. I've offered to help him before and he won't take it. If I have to spend $100M for him to earn $10M, it seemed like a good idea to me. I know Amy would agree. Can't believe I didn't think of it before.
"Here is my thinking," I said. "Big boat. Sleeps at least 25, plus a big crew. We can always put kids in crew bunks. Has to have a helipad that will hold our EC500. A big copter. The biggest challenge is I want it to be cool. I'm a kid at heart. Hell, I am a kid. I want cool toys. I have no idea what that means in a yacht, but you'll know it when you see it. What's a search like this take?"
He laughed at my description.
"Well, if I can find something cool, I can find it today. I'll see what I can find and bring it with me to dinner. What's your budget?"
"I don't know. $250 million or so," I said. I heard the short gasp. OK, easy to figure 10% of that.
"Well, that gives me some room," he laughed. "What's for dinner?"
"What do you want?," I asked.
"Filet and lobster," he replied. He doesn't like lobster and won't eat it. It is Chris' favorite meal.
"Done," I replied. "See you at 6 or so." I texted Alison and told her Billy was coming and the menu. She replied OK, with an LOL. She knows Billy doesn't like lobster. She would make her special mac n cheese. She knows Billy loves it. Count on it. Billy has been a wonderful addition to our extended family. He promised Chris he would stay sober and he has. He regularly comes to workout and he plays in our basketball league. He has dropped 25 pounds and runs every day. He has committed to run a marathon with us this year. His promise to Chris to get healthier has transformed him. He was a good looking 52 year old man. Now he doesn't look a day over 35. He has to fight off women and it makes him laugh.
I called Jackson and told him I would be needing a yacht crew. A very special yacht crew. He laughed and asked me what I had bought. I told him nothing yet but I would. He asked what size yacht as apparently that affected the crew size and I told him probably about 400 feet or so, maybe bigger. That sent him into a coughing fit. He told me he would find us captains to interview first and they'd help find the crew. Jackson understood our needs.
Billy arrived about 5:30 and the kids were thrilled. Chris jumped in his arms and we all laughed. Morgan asked when dinner was and when she said 7, Morgan said they'd be back by then and took Billy's hand. His visits were, um, fun for the kids. He told her to wait as he needed 30 minutes with Amy and me and held up a file folder. Uh oh, I guess I should have mentioned this to Amy. We wandered into my office and I explained the new dock and that I'd asked Billy to broker us something big. I stressed broker. Amy is damn smart. I saw the twinkle in her eyes. She said it was a fantastic idea and got excited. Real or not, she understood the underlying goal.
"Ok, I brought 3 boats. I can show them all to you or I can show you the one you'll pick," he said.
"Show us that one," said Amy. My idea and she is already in charge. He laid out a bunch of color photos.
"Ok, he said. "Brand new. 475 feet. Twin hybrid diesels, the first ever. 14,000HP each with a peak of 18,000 for 30 minute bursts. Most engines this size are around 4800 hp. Top speed of most boats this size is 14 knots. This will cruise all day at 26 knots, on less fuel, and do bursts to 35. 35 knots in a 475 foot yacht. It's nuts."
14 spacious queen cabins, one of which is an amazing master. Crew quarters for 40 but only needs a crew of 5. I checked and they can reconfigure a few doors and shift 25 single cabins to passenger access. They can also upgrade them to the same level of luxury. That still leaves room for a crew of 15. That means you'd have sleeping quarters for 53.
Luxury at the high end but very modern, not overdone. Very similar to your New York apartments. Four jet tenders that hold a total of 60. Garage for two ski boats and 8 wave runners. And I do mean an open water garages. Two of them. It's really cool. Helicopter pad for two the size of yours. You know, friends. Two pools. 6 jacuzzis. Steam room, sauna, gym, library, and more.
What will sell you, being a kid, is the water slide. It's a four deck ship. The slide is from the top deck to the bottom. There are even two elevators if you don't want to climb four flights.
But the real winner is the computer control. You'll usually want a crew, but if you just want to run to the Bahamas, you can run it yourself. It even self docks. Oh, and you'll love that it actually has duplicate controls in a fly bridge. I don't know who does that on a 475 foot yacht, but they must have been expecting you. Available to pick up in a week, if you want the crew rooms reconfigured. Oh, and it has a 7,000 mm range. Take it to South Africa. Take it to England. Right now it is in Monaco so it would have to be brought over. You should take a crew and go bring it home. Do a romantic cruise. I'll come stay with the kids and Juanita, Alison, Blake and I will take care of them. I can do that now. You saved Chris' life. She saved mine."
He said that last little bit softly and teared up a bit. Amy gave him a big hug and let him cry it out. He calmed down and gave us a wan smile. Amy chose to pretend it didn't happen. The right choice.
"How much?," she asked.
"Well it is over your budget, but I'll waive my fee," he said. "They want $325M and my information says they won't negotiate. It's worth it. If I wave my fee that takes it to about $290. You've already done so much for me."
"Buy it," said Amy. Yep, she is back in charge. Good thing we mostly agree. "And no fucking way are you waving a penny of your fee. You did your job."
"That's silly," he said. "It was one day's work."
"Don't care," said Amy. "If you weren't family, you wouldn't and shouldn't even offer. We are not screwing family. You know damn well you deserve that money. You also know we don't need it. We just bought a $300M boat on a whim. Enjoy the fuck out of it. We will take you up on the vacation. We have never been on a vacation alone."
He teared up again and it was my turn to hug him. Then we sent him off to find the kids. You know.
After he left, Amy turned to me.
"You're really sweet," she said, giving me one of her luminous smiles. I'd just burned $300M on a toy and I was sweet. But I got her point.
"Talented too," I said. "And we have about an hour." Another of her smiles. We walked towards our bedroom and passed Juanita and Amai chatting in the hall. Like minds. She took Juanita's hand just as I took Amai's. Let's just say we filled up the hour.
After dinner we showed everyone the pictures. Family bedlam. Again. Chris started laughing and couldn't stop. We all looked at her.
"I knew when I had the slip built that you would fill it but not the same day and not this spectacularly. I think I'll build a space port next", which got a big laugh. She wasn't serious was she? Maybe they ARE all aliens. Then she leaned over and whispered in my ear: "Thank you". Yeah, she understood the ulterior motive.
Jackson texted me that night and said we had interviews at 9, 10, and 11, but we would hire the last one.
The first guy was OK, but incredibly full of himself. He named dropped a ton of celebrities, half of whom were in my phone contacts. I'd be willing to bet if I texted them, they'd have no clue who this bozo was. His interview didn't last 10 minutes. We told him that if he couldn't respect their privacy than why would he respect ours? Amy almost pushed him out the door.
The next guy seemed perfect. Mid-30s, experienced, great personality, smoking hot. You get it. We talked to him a long time and he left with our believing we would hire him.
The doorbell rang again and we opened the door to Jenny. Remember the party? That Captain Jenny. Amy gave her a huge hug laughing and before I got the door closed, I heard Amy.
"You're hired," she said. Jenny looked confused. "If you want the job. Come on."
Amy led the way into the living room.
"It is great to see you both but I don't understand. What do you mean I'm hired? You haven't even interviewed me yet. You have to have interviewed more experienced people. This would first command. I don't even know what boat we are talking about yet, but assume you mean the big Sunseeker," said Jenny.
"If you want the job, you're hired," I said. Amy was right. "It pays $150K per year. You also have full benefits and a budget for a car, up to $150k. We cover gas, insurance and everything else. We prefer nice cars, so spend it all. It's your boat and you make all the hiring decisions. You tell us what the crew needs to be. Our team, which means you too, is our family. That means run of the house, all the toys and the use of our houses. Right now that includes here, Venice, Paris, and London. You have complete access to our planes and pilots. All that is included. We won't use the boat all that much but want you to make sure it gets used. Idle boats don't do as well. Take your friends out. Take your family out. Live on it if you want. The Captain has a full suite and it is pretty nice. You know our family, so Jackson helps you find a crew. Pay them at least double the going rate, if for no other reason to keep their mouth shut. They won't get the same access, but you will." She went on to explain our philosophy on play.
"Let's look at the pictures. If you can go and can find a crew, we pick it up next week in Monaco and sail it home," added Amy.
We showed her the pictures and the spec sheet and she started laughing and struggled to stop.
"I thought this job was for the Sunseeker. No fucking way would I have applied for this job. My first command and it is a fucking ship! You can't hire me. You shouldn't hire me," she said.
"Two questions. Are you capable of doing the job well and can you do it safely?," said Amy, getting right to the point.
"Well sure. I can do it and do it well. It is just that nobody would even consider me," she said. "It is nuts."
"Do you want the job?," I asked.
"Are you kidding? It is the dream job of a lifetime. Of course," she said.
"You're hired," repeated Amy.
Jenny even danced a little jig. Amy took Jenny to meet Amai and get her hired. She also called Billy and he let the broker know that Jenny was the new Captain. Jenny said she'd be ready with a crew in a week, but asked us to give her a week of training before we flew over. Made sense to us. Later in the week, we met her crew. Three women, three men. She had assured us they were approved by Jackson and that she had done a group interview. That also got us a wink. She explained that they were hired just for this trip. She would build a pool of crew members and hire them on a per cruise basis. She explained that this boat was easily piloted solo, even given its size. Also made sense to us.
This crew was, well, stunning. We'll share more details when we, well, fuck them.
"Girls, I don't need to see this. Go put on clothes and find me my new students. Chop chop," said Ahmad. Oh boy. He just unleashed two hurricanes at once. I was impressed though.
"You're fired," said Chris. You could see his eyebrows lift.
"What do you mean I am fired, little girl. Be gone. Find me my students," said Ahmad.
"We ARE your students, or we were, before we fired you," said Chris.
"No, no, my students are two men named Chris and Leslie," said Ahmad.
"Leave. Now. Before security tosses you," said Chris, through clenched teeth. With that, she spun and headed back in the house, with Leslie following. I wandered over.
"Good, good, you can help me. Those girls were crazy and dressed like whores," said Ahmad. "Where are my new students?" Oh boy. I had to restrain myself from decking him. One of the guards had come up, but I waved him back.
"The young woman was Chris, who just won her class and is moving up," I said. "The other young woman was Leslie, who came in second. They own the boat. They hired you. They fired you. Now leave. Trust me, this will not help your reputation. Getting arrested for trespassing would make it worse."
He finally realized his mistake, and spit on the ground, and got back in his car and left.
I went inside to hear Chris on the phone, reading the absolute riot act to someone. Words like "One more chance", "Buy a damn boat from your competitor", "Don't need fucking sponsors". Whoops. Finally she calmed down and saw me.
"That didn't go well," she said. Yeah, no. "This is a male dominated sport, but come on. It's not like we were dressed like whores." Yeah, glad she didn't hear that comment.
"They said they have another coach, but he's in Roanoke, Virginia and flights are hard to find. I told him to be at the airport in a little more than an hour. Leslie and I are going to go get him. That confused him a bit," said Chris.
I'll turn this over to Chris now.
"Bruce, I'm Chris, and this is Leslie," I said. He shook my hand and then Leslie's.
"Oh, I recognize you. It's hard not to know the crazy young women that came in 1-2 in class," he said, with a laugh. Damn, he was sweet and knew who we are. He was also really good looking. Not hunky, just attractive.
"So, you know who we are and you're willing to drop everything and come train us?," I said.
"Sure. You're going to be the saviors of Class 1," he said. "No doubt about it. Why, you seem worried that I wouldn't." So I told him the story about Ahmed.
"Who the fuck sent Ahmed to you?," he said. "He's a prick and truly vicious to women. Who the hell thought that would work? Oh, sorry about the language." We both laughed, and appreciated his passion.
"That's OK, we both know how to fuck," I said. "Er, the word fuck." Yeah, I don't make mistakes. He did use it as an opportunity to give us the once over. In all our haste, we were still in our Tankinis.
"Yeah, sorry about the suits," said Leslie. "We moved pretty fast to get here."
"Oh, they're fine, they're fine," he said, in a husky voice. Oh goody.
We walked out to the plane and climbed on and told him to sit anywhere. He looked around. Oh, got it. He's looking for pilots. Well, we'll let him squirm. Leslie gave me a look and winked, and turned and closed and locked the door. He didn't say anything, and got credit for it, especially when we both went into the cockpit.
"Want to sit in the jump seat Bruce?," I called back. He walked into the cockpit, closed the door, folded down the seat and strapped in, all without a word.
"OK, you're more calm and collected than I expected," said Leslie.
"Well, I'm about to train two 11 year old girls in how to race a $3 million dollar boat," he said. "I have no clue how you got to that point, but given that, your being the pilots of this remarkably nice jet doesn't seem like that much of a stretch."
"I think we like you," I said, and we all laughed. We chatted all the way back, which wasn't much more than an hour. We gave him the standard spiel, but even so, when we got out of the jet and walked to the waiting helicopter, he did shake his head. We flew straight home, and let him ride in the cockpit, so he saw the 131, the 52, the 24, both our race boats and the new cat, all docked.
"Well sure," he said. "Why wouldn't you have a couple yachts at your compound," he said, in a remarkably restrained voice. Yes, we really did like him. "But what the hell is that slip next to the bigger boat. That's designed to hold something freaking huge. Three or four hundred feet."
"475, to be exact. It arrives in about 10 days. You'll see it," said Leslie. Yeah, he just shook his head and smiled, and climbed out of the helicopter. We went up to the house to get him settled. We could have put him in the guest wing, but we were hopeful, so we put him in the guest room next to me. Well, you know. We introduced him to Mom and Dad, and since he'd gotten the spiel, he didn't really react. He was subtle, but he clearly checked out both Mom AND Dad. Oh more goody.
The first few days were pretty uneventful. We'll have more to tell, but I'll turn this back over to Dad, as they're leaving for Monaco.
Alison and Blake flew the crew over in the Hemisphere and then they headed up to Paris for a week. They'd be back in time to help Billy with the kids. A week later, Tom and Jess flew us over in the new 747. Why not? We flew overnight and slept so arrived in Monaco mid-morning. Amai had a car take us right to the boat. Yes boat. 475 feet or not, we don't own a damn yacht.
Holy Mother of God. I have to rethink the yacht thing. This boat made the 131 look like a rowboat. Jenny took us in a tour and it took an hour. No, not for that, it was just that big. Did I mention that all the crew was wearing shorts? Just shorts. As soon as Amy noticed, she'd turned and pulled off my shirt then her own. I heard one of the crew gasp. For Amy, I'm sure. Right?
She ended the tour on the top deck right at the entrance to the water slide. I am not good with temptation and jumped right in. Whee! Fucking A. I splashed into the water and shortly after Amy shot out followed by Jenny and the entire crew, one at a time.
We all tread water laughing. Jenny admitted it was probably the hundredth time she and the crew had been down it. Yes, she was the right hire. We got out and let the sun dry us off. Did I mention that everyone was wearing white shorts? Commando? A nice start to our trip. Jenny asked us if we wanted a few days in Monaco or if we wanted to head right out? We had talked about it and could come back whenever we wanted so we said let's go!
We all went up to the fly bridge to watch us leave from Monaco and it was beautiful. So was everyone standing with us. Jenny just glowed. She asked if I wanted to take her out and I passed. This was my trip to relax. We chatted as we went out and as soon as we were out of sight, Amy whipped down her shorts, and stepped out of them.
"Won't need those again until we dock," she said. I followed her example, and was nude and hard. The crew all looked at each other.
"Listen everyone," said Amy. "Your call. We know you've been cleared by Jackson, but there is no pressure from us. Want to wear clothes? Cool. Want to fuck your brains out, including Bob and me? Also cool. Right now, we're going over to that lounge, and I am going to climb on top of him. While we are, my mouth is open for a cock and his face is open for a pussy or a cock. Feel free to join us, or not. Maybe not now, but later. Prefer it in private? Sure. Just want to fuck each other? Seriously, whatever you want. I will just leave you with this. We're both great fucks. We have skills and we both like it in the ass."
Well, that was an ending. She walked over to the chaise lounge and I followed her. I laid back and could see she was just dripping. No foreplay required, she just climbed up an eased her way down.
The entire crew gathered around. We were on autopilot, and on the fly bridge, so that was just fine. The first person to join in was Taylor, the youngest and smallest member of the crew. Just 18, she stood under 5 feet, and couldn't have weighed 90 pounds. She had small A cup, if not AAA cup breasts, and an innie pussy she kept shaved. She wore braided pigtails. She looked 12. She went for that look. It worked. She came over and leaned down and kissed Amy. Oh God it was hot. The kiss grew, and they let their hands roam. Amy actually settled down on my cock and stopped, which was OK. Taylor shifted a little, which aimed her ass at me. I reached up and stroked her pussy, and she moaned. She was wet as hell, and I eased one, then two fingers in her pussy, stroking in and out. Finally she pulled away from Amy, and sat down, on my face. I started licking. She and Amy started making out again, and Amy started moving up and down. They reached over and started stroking the other's clit, and Taylor didn't last long. Yes, she's a squirter. I swallowed as fast as I could. She sat back and looked at Amy.
"Can he fuck me now?," she asked. Amy stepped up and off my cock, letting it slap against my stomach. Taylor got up and climbed onto my legs. Nate, our cook, grabbed my cock and held it up for her and she eased down. Suddenly I felt an obstruction, and she pushed down harder, and let out a yelp. Oh shit, she was a virgin. Amy realized what had just happened and had Taylor stop. One tear escaped and Amy kissed it away. Finally Taylor started to slowly bounce up and down. No one moved. We all just watched. I reached over and gently stroked her clit, and soon she came, and clenched down on my cock. Given she was already tighter than even Ruby, I couldn't last and filled her with cum.
Everyone clapped. Seriously, clapped.
"That was wonderful," said Taylor. "Now that I've done it, I'm never stopping." With that, Nate actually lifted Taylor off my cock and laid her down. He knelt between her legs and licked her and sucked my cum out of her pussy. She just kept going off. Finally, he stopped briefly and she looked him in the eye and said "Fuck me." Nate is a big boy, maybe 6'4', 200, with dark curly hair. He had a nice 6 inch average cock, so was a nice next step. He climbed up, and slipped right in missionary style. He was gentle, stroking in and out.
"No, fuck me. Hard," said Taylor. So he did. He pulled out and let loose on Taylor's tiny tits. Oh it was porn flick worthy. He just kept cumming and cumming. Megan came over and clearly had clean up duty. What a contrast. Just 19, and with a great figure, but D cup breasts. Taylor's hands roamed, for sure. Of course, that position left Taylor opened up and, you know, I hadn't cum yet. Oh I did, leaving another cleanup job, this time for Justin. That left HIM open, and, well, Zach. Zach's nice 7 inch cock was thin, and perfect for this job. The right tool for the right job, don't ya know.
I could spend pages telling you about our sexual exploits on the cruise, but that was the only one. Seriously. The rest of the cruise was sex filled, but for Amy and me it was just the two of us. It was a second honeymoon, of sorts, and we took advantage of it. Some fucking, but mostly making love. I love her so much. I am so lucky. Fuck everything else, I have Amy.
Even at the speed we were rocking, it was almost 8 day crossing, to Port Canaveral, on the east coast of Florida. There are not as many places that can accomodate a 475 foot boat, but we were not actually going to stop there. Alison was going to fly the kids, plus Blake, Juanita, and Amai out to the new boat. Oh, and Bruce, their coach. Might as well, it was going to be a few days off, and he was staying. Might crimp our style, but we'll see. As we got in range, she hopped over to the east coast of Florida, refueled and headed out towards us. The range of the helicopter was 500 miles, so we halved that. In case of trouble, they needed to get back. We then took off another 50 miles, to be conservative. So they took off when we were about 275 miles out, heading towards them. This was going to be Alison's first landing on a boat, so it might be just a fly by, wave, and fly back. Better safe. As they got close, Jenny slowed to just a few knots. Apparently you want a little headway, althought I can't explain why. Alison flew over the boat and set it down straddling the H. Flawless. The kids all got out first, screaming, and by kids I include Alison, Amai, and Bruce, which made me laugh.
Well, it is impressive.
We all walked around together, and it takes a LONG time. There are, after all, rooms for 53 people. They met the crew. We'd had them dress, not sure about Bruce. Once the introductions were over, I heard Leslie started to say something.
"This is silly," she said, taking off all her clothes. Orlando, Chris, and Bruce did too. Oh, wait, Bruce did too. Everyone else, and I mean everyone else, stripped off. The crew was a little surprised by Juanita and Amai, but Bruce wasn't. Bruce wasn't surprised. Things had progressed.
We had made a gentle turn and Jenny brought us back up to speed. We had almost exactly 24 hours until we were home. I notice Bruce was up looking at the instruments and walked up next to him.
"That can't be right," said Bruce. "It says we're going 26 knots." I laughed and turned to Jenny.
"Open her up," I said, and Jenny laughed. She touched several things on the touch panel display and the speed increased. It kept climbing until it read 40 knots. That surprised me, and I looked at Jenny.
"Oh, they made some improvements in the hybrid drive," said Jenny. "We can sustain this speed for up to 6 hours. We can actually cruise continuously at 32 knots now, but I didn't want to push it across the Atlantic. We'll get home a little early. I talked to the engineers and they have a fairly big modification they are dying to do. But it will cost about $22M. I told them to text you, but said I was pretty sure you'd say it was OK." Bruce blanched at that figure.
"A $22M upgrade?," he said.
"Yes. It's actually a competely replacement for the electric motor portion of the hybrid drives, and new batteries. They're confident that with this change, cruise can be sustained at 40 knots, and top speed can be maintainted for 8 hours at 55 knots. You do need to slow to cruise for 2 hours before shutting it down."
"That can't be right," said Bruce. "That's roughly 63mph. It can't. This ship is 475 feet long."
"Oh, it's right," said Jenny. "And it is step one. They actually want to change out the entire propulsion unit for a new variation of jet propulsion. They're going to talk to you. They think they can get cruise to 55 knots and top speed to 80 knots, and lower fuel consumption. They like that you're willing to, well, spend money. It's a $75M upgrade though."
80 knots. Roughly 92mph. In a 475 foot yacht. Well, sure.
Just then the radio squealed.
"Unidentified ship. Full stop. Prepare to be boarded," came the voice, out of the radio.
Boarded, what the fuck? We all kind of looked at each other. Just then a helicopter dropped into our view. It was a Coast Guard gunship. Yes gunship. Jenny put the boat in full stop, but it took a while to stop. Meanwhile we all got dressed. I'm sure they got quite a view, given we were all naked. Jenny picked up the radio.
"Full stop. Slowing now. Will set to hover. Feel free to land on the second helipad," she said. "I don't get what's going on. We're 140 miles offshore in international waters."
She had everyone gather in sight. I noticed, and Jenny clearly noticed that Justin, one of the crew members, was really, really nervous. Fuck.
Just then, the helicopter landed. Out came three Coast Guard people, whatever you call them. One was clearly in charge and the other two had big ass machine guys. We just waited, as non-threatening as possible.
"Who the hell are you people?," said the officer.
"Perhaps an introduction would be a nice place to start," I said, telling him my name and putting out my hand. He tried to stare me down, but I wasn't having any of it. Finally he shook my hand and told me his name.
"Our radar showed you moving at 40 knots. That's just not possible on a yacht," said the officer.
"Well, it is, obviously, but why would you board us in international waters?," I said. "Since when could the Coast Guard do that?" He hemmed and hawed and finally got aggressive.
"We're going to search this boat," he said.
"Like hell you are," I said. "We do not consent to a search. No way, no how, and do I have to remind you we're in international waters? Why you get back in the pretty red helicopter and fly off to wherever you belong. We're US citizens, and will be docking tomorrow in Tampa, to go through customs. You'll have your opportunity to do whatever you want then. Right now, get off my boat."
He stood there, fuming, but didn't move. I didn't either. I could wait him out.
"Those big guns say we can search," said the officer.
I actually laughed.
"Well, I know damn well you can't, and if you do, it will be the end of your career, in a heartbest. Trust me, I can make that happen," I said. He got a funny look on this face. He was looking at the kids.
"You're the kids in the movie," he said, naming their movie. They were all pretty scared, and just nodded.
"I don't understand," he said. "How can this ship do 40 knots? It is just not possible."
"So that's what this is all about?," I asked, and he finally nodded. "OK, I can see how that would be concerning. How about we compromise. We'll meet whomever you want, at customs, tomorrow. We will happily take them to the engine room and explain the hybrid drive. It is pretty revolutionary. Bring along the engineer that will be your expert. There is absolutely no point in doing it now."
He nodded, and finally agreed that was an acceptable solution.
"And come in swim suits. You can go down the slide," I said. That actually got a laugh out of him, and they got on their helicopter and flew away. As soon as they were out of sight, I turned.
"Justin. Talk. Now," I said.
He stammered a bit.
"Talk now, or I WILL consent to a search, right now, of your cabin," I said.
"I brought some drugs with me from Monaco," he said.
"What and how much," I asked.
"Cocaine. Three kilos," he said. Fuck, fuck, fuck.
"Well now," I said. "That was stupid as hell. You're going to get caught tomorrow and I'm turning you in. Either that's going to happen, or you're going downstairs right now with Jenny and bringing it up and chucking it over the side. DO. NOT. LEAVE. ANY."
He looked panicked.
"I can't. They'll kill me," he said.
"Either way, the coke is gone," I said. "In jail or not. Your choice. One minute to decide."
Finally, reluctantly, the coke went over the side. I didn't like it, but I didn't want the damn risk.
"Did you know we have a brig?," said Jenny. "He's going in it. Needless to say Justin, you're fired. We'll let you out when we get to customs."
We made it around Florida without incident and the Coast Guard engineer did meet us. No, they didn't search us, but we did have a few crew members get back on their Cutter with awfully wet clothes. The slide was just too tempting. We promised when the did the upgrade, we'd invite the engineer back on board. And yes, we approved the jet propulsion. They'd be coming to install it in about two weeks. Wish we had known, we would have waited to pick it up. Ah well.
Jenny let the factory know we wanted to skip directly to the jet drive. Turns out they had everything complete, just had planned on putting it on the next ship. It also turns out that our new 747 had amazing cargo capacity. After all, it was based on a stretched freighter plane. So the next day, Leslie and Chris flew back to Monaco and they loaded all the equipment and the entire engineering team and flew back. Yes, we let two 11 year olds fly to Europe, in a 747, by themselves. It was a one-day turn around and, well, they're not normal in any way. By the middle of the next week, the retrofit was done. The team flew back commercial, to their dismay, but we did fly them first class. We took the 475 out for it's maiden run and holy fuck. Turns out they underestimated. For an hour, we cruised at 87 knots. Slightly more than 100mph. Yes, we warned the Coast Guard first. Yes, their engineer was on board for this trip. Yes, he was fucking blown away.