One of the pitfalls of reading too many books in your youth is that you’ll go into situations with preconceived ideas of what things should be like. Having read an inordinate amount about old time sailing, and whaleships, and cannons and such, I had some pretty strong ideas about New England schooner captains; their demeanor, comportment, habits, and behavior. So as soon as I was holding a captain’s ticket, and working on a schooner in New England (no matter that I wasn’t actually captain of that schooner: I was a captain, I was on a schooner, it was New England) I began to feel the necessity of acting like one. Now I’d like to think that saltiness I have already in spades, language is coming along nicely (was I really mumbling “Hast seen the white whale?” a few nights a go in my sleep? You’ll have to ask my wife), smoking a pipe will have to wait till I’m all grown up. Beard? Check. Waistcoat? Check. Sou’wester? Several. Pegleg? Well, let’s not push it. The only thing missing was a proper New Englandish schooner captain name. Not that Benjamin wasn’t overused in those old time whaling days, but I needed something more flavorful. Ahab. Obadiah. Peleg. Ishmael—something along those lines.
What actually stuck was kind of accidental. Damaris had just discovered the recording function of her child’s camera, and had begun surreptitiously recording things I said, no doubt for later blackmailing purposes. Her favorite recording was a phrase from a book I’d been reading to the other two children: “Hold your hush, Abednego!” It was played back for my benefit, with shrieks of laughter, more than a few times. Then my wife took it up, whenever she wished to gently remind me that even a fool when he is silent is considered wise. And so it naturally followed that all summer long on the schooner I was Abednego—“Captain Abednego Hooch, if you please; and be so good as to belay your halyards clockwise on my ship!”
It was a great summer of being Abednego, and when I discoursed with my shipmates about the schooner I’d like to build some day, they began referring to it as the Abednego Schooner. Getting used to the sound of that, when I started up a little rigging business and needed a name that was closer to the beginning of the alphabet than Zartman Marine would have been, well, there it was. And here it is: Abednego Marine. Though my attempt to raise capital for it through Kickstarter met with pretty resounding defeat, we’re still moving forward with it all. More slowly, to be sure, but there should shortly be an online catalog and order form for Dyneema soft shackles, custom-length strops, and synthetic rigging parts on this site; the name Abednegomarine.com will take you there. We hope, as time and funds allow, to continue into machined toggles, Dyneema-stropped wooden blocks, aluminum belaying pins and other traditional ideas that modern materials are making feasible once more.
It might be wise, trying to go into business, to read books about that—how to cruch numbers for breakfast, squeeze blood from turnips, shortsell, upcharge, boost productivity and who-knows-what. But every time my hand strays toward the bookshelf, it’s drawn again toward my seafaring collection, and I get lost in square-riggers, fogbanks, codfish and salty decks. Can’t help myself, it seems. Good for business? Maybe not, but we’ll embark on it anyway and see where we fetch up.