On the 2-year anniversary of David Bowie’s passing, I figured it would be a good idea to share a little memory I have of him…
I was crewing on a private motor yacht named in the Med during the summer of 1990. We were docked stern-to in Portofino, Italy, waiting on the owner and some guests to arrive. The rest of the crew was ashore running errands one sunny afternoon. I was on the fly-deck, washing and cleaning as usual. Because well, that’s pretty much all I ever did on that boat.
For the anal-retentive Swedish captain and his duplicitous wife/first-mate/chef, that boat could NEVER be clean enough.
Since I was alone aboard, I had the rare autonomy to crank up my own music selection on the boat’s sound system. And yes, I took full advantage of those moments that I didn’t have to hear Enya on endless loop…
I decided that some classic Bad Brains would fit the bill for this particular day. I deemed it helpful to get through my endless tasks of underpaid, peon drudgery with a modicum of sanity left intact.
Docked next to us for the last couple of days was a gleaming, immaculate 125 foot yacht named “Deneb Star C”. She was a beauty, and I found myself often wishing that I was working aboard her.
She must have had 20 crew working aboard. With at least 10 deckhands who seemed to be always polishing, cleaning, and varnishing the yacht’s exterior throughout the day.
This particular afternoon, however, there was nobody topside. The ship was quiet and shuttered. Heck, it even looked like there was nobody aboard, which was rather strange for such a large boat with such a large crew.
Anyway, I was carrying on, rinsing off the area of the flydeck where the tender and boat toys were kept. If I remember correctly, “Banned in DC” was blasting the dock at full volume at the time.
I was semi-headbanging while hosing off the Boston Whaler when I looked over to Deneb Star, if for just a glancing moment. No more than 20 meters across from me, stood a tall, thin, pale guy donning a blond pompadour on the aft bridge deck. He was taking a drag while slamming right along to my Bad Brains selection. He was the only one visible topside, wearing a white cardigan with a black t-shirt underneath.
It was none other than David Bowie himself, who previously unbeknownst to me was the yacht’s owner, rocking right along with me.
When we made eye contact, he pounded his head and fist a little harder, while I started laughing in disbelief, hose still in hand. Here we were rocking to a band that we obviously both loved.
On cue with the end of the song, he finished off his fag, wearing a huge smile. He gave me a hearty wave, and headed back down below. Something told me that he needed a Bad Brains break too.
I remember telling myself… “Holy shit, what a fucking awesome moment I just shared with David fucking Bowie…”
It was one of the few times that I was grateful for having accepted what was clearly the worst yacht gig I ever had.
RIP David Bowie.