Sandy Goes Sailing

By Jared McVay

Sandy loved living on and island and swimming in the ocean every day. Sandy was a Marine Iguana and Marine Iguanas are the only Iguanas in the world who swim in the ocean. Sandy lived on the small island of Pinta, in the Galapagos Islands group - a thousand miles west of Ecuador in South America.


Every day, Sandy would lay on the beach, basking in the warm sun, watching large ships, sailboats, and motorboats come and go past his island.


One day, he turned to his friend, Tobias Togglemeyer, a giant land tortoise, and said, "I'm going to build a sailboat and go sailing. I want to see all the places there are to see, just like those people do on those boats out there," pointing at several boats passing by.


Tobias was one of the last living giant tortoises on the island and no one knew for sure how old he really was; even he didn't know for sure but thought he was a little over a hundred years old.


Because of his age, Tobias was thought to be very wise. "Now why would you want to leave this beautiful island that has warm sun to bask in, more seaweed than you can ever eat and friends who would miss you?


Sandy looked up at Tobias with one eye open and said,  trying to change the subject until he could think of an answer, "How did you get the name Tobias Togglemeyer?"


Tobias chuckled from somewhere down deep in his chest. "Many years ago, I lived on the other end of the island where a fisherman named Togglemeyer also lived. He was a nice man for a human. Tortoises don't normally have a last name, but I wanted one, so I took his."


Sandy nodded his head, then asked, "What about your first name, Tobias, where did that come from?"


Another chuckle erupted from Tobias's big chest. "That name came from my mama. I don't know why she named me Tobias; I guess she just liked the name. My brother's name is, Lonesome George. Now, what about you? How did you come to be called, Sandy?"


Sandy opened his other eye and grinned. "Heck, that's easy, after coming out of the water from swimming, I would always roll around in the sand to get dry and people would laugh and began calling me, Sandy - so, Sandy became my name."


"Do you have a last name?" Tobias asked with a serious look on his face.


Sandy thought for a moment, then shook his head and said, "No, not that I know of. Do you think I need a last name?"


"Of course. No doubt about it! Everyone needs a last name," Tobias said with conviction. "Now, let's see, what would be a good last name for you?"


They both thought and thought, until finally, Tobias asked, "Is there something you can do really well?"


Sandy grinned from ear to ear. "I'm a really good swimmer."


"Hummm, Swimmer? Sandy Swimmer? No. We need a name that has a bit more zip to it. What else can you do?"


Sandy thought and thought, then said, "I'm really good at catching flies right out of the air. Want to see me do it?"


"Ahh, no," Tobias said, shaking his head, "but you've given me an idea for your last name. Flycatcher. Sandy Flycatcher! Now that's a right proper name for an Iguana.


Sandy thought this over and said, "Flycatcher. Sandy Flycatcher. Yes, I like that. From now on, my name will be, Sandy Flycatcher!" he said with pride.


About then, they heard a large ship sounding it's horn as it passed by the beach they were sunning themselves on. Sandy raised his head and sighed, wondering where the big ship was going and what life was like somewhere else? Would it be different, he wondered?"


Sandy got up and ran down and dove into the ocean, letting the cool water wash over him. He loved being in the water and how it felt against his skin, but he had to be careful and not swim out too far. The cool water would sap his strength and he wouldn't be able to get back to his nice warm beach.


Sandy liked to swim close to the sailboats and motorboats that were moored just off the beach. The human people who were on the boats would look at him and get all excited, and sometimes toss bits of food into the water. Someday, I will build myself a sailboat and go see all the things the human people do.


The next morning after a big breakfast of seaweed, Sandy made a decision. He would follow his dream and build a sailboat and go sailing.


As Tobias came crawling slowly across the beach, looking for something to eat, he noticed Sandy gathering a large pile of driftwood. "What's this?" he asked. "Are you planning on building a large bonfire?"


Sandy looked at Tobias like he'd just asked a silly question. "No, he replied. I've decided to build myself a sailboat and go see the world."


"Oh really?" Tobias said with an amused smile. Perchance, my young friend, do you know how to build a boat that will actually float?"


"Well, no. But how hard can it be? This driftwood floats and if I tie several pieces together and somehow stand a pole in the middle with a piece of cloth tied to it for a sail, that should work, don't you think?"


"And just where will you store the food you'll need to take with you?" Tobias asked.


"Gosh, I hadn't thought of that," Sandy said. "I know there is seaweed floating not too far off the shore, and I can always swim down to the bottom where it grows, so food shouldn't be a problem."


Because he was a land tortoise and didn't care much for water, except to drink, neither he nor Sandy realized how deep the ocean is away from land thought Sandy had solved his food problem.


"If you have your mind made up, is there anything I can do to help?"


"I do need a long poll for something the humans call, a mast - you know the pole they stand on the boat and tie the sail to it so the wind can push them around.


Tobias remembered seeing a small tree that had blown over during a recent storm and thought it just might be what Sandy needed.


Between the two of them, they finished the boat before sundown. It' wasn't really a sailboat, it was a raft made out of driftwood, but it Sandy's eyes, it was the finest sailboat ever built. The hardest part had been when Sandy tried to drag a large piece of cloth he'd found, across the beach with the wind making it difficult. But Tobias had come to his rescue and with his size, they were able to get the sail, down to the boat, or raft, whichever you wanted to call it.


Once the sail had been attached like the ones on boats Sandy had seen, he stepped back and said, "Isn't that the most beautiful boat you've ever seen?"


Not wanting to hurt his friends feelings, Tobias said, "Without a doubt, it definitely is a thing of wonder."


Sandy gave a big sigh and said, "I will rest tonight, and tomorrow, I will begin my great sailing adventure.


True to his word, the first thing after his breakfast of seaweed, Sandy tied a piece of rope to the front of his boat so he could drag it down to the water; but right from the start, he was in trouble. His boat weighed more than he did and he wasn't able to move it more than an inch or two.


Sandy was struggling with his problem when Tobias came crawling up. Need a wee bit of assistance, my sea faring friend?"


"I guess I didn't realize how heavy it was going to be. Any suggestions on how I can get it down to the water?"


"Could be. Could be indeed," Tobias said, shaking his head. "What we need is a few logs under it so we can roll it down to the water. With my size, I can pull it and you can keep replacing the logs in front with the ones left behind."


So, in that manner, they moved the small raft/boat down to the waters edge, but that was as far as they got. Tobias was a land creature and refused to wade out into the ocean.


"Maybe if you push and I pull," Sandy said, "maybe we can get it far enough out into the water so that it's floating, and I should be able to handle it from there."


So, being very careful not to get Tobias too wet, they got Sandy's raft into the water and with the pull rope in his teeth, Sandy began to tow the boat out away from the shore. But a giant wave came ashore and washed Sandy and his boat back onto the beach.


"Well, that didn't go very well, did it?" Tobias said as the raft and Sandy came to rest just in front of him.


"What am I going to do now? The surf is too strong for me to get the boat out far enough so it won't keep getting washed back onto the beach."


Tobias looked out at the giant waves of the surf and said, "An interesting situation, and interesting situation, indeed."


As they stood there, pondering on what to do, a high pitched voice said, "Can I help?"


They both jumped and turned to see a beautiful, young female sea turtle come wading out of the water.


"Hi," she said. "My name is Sylvia Seaturtle and I've been watching you. I'm a strong swimmer and I could tow your raft out far enough so the surf won't keep washing it ashore.


"Wow! You would do that for me?" Sandy asked.


"Sure. I could even guide you wherever you want to go. I've been over to the big island and all the other islands - and there are a lot of them. like, Marchena, Genovesa, San Salvador, and Isabella, which is the biggest island. Plus there are more out to the west and up to the north.


Sandy was super excited and jumped up and down. "Yes! That would be great! Can we go now?"


Sylvia looked at the raft and asked, "Are you sure your boat is sea worthy?"


Sandy swelled up his chest and said, "Of course it's sea worthy. I built it my self... with a little help from my friend, Tobias," Sandy said, pointing at Tobias, who rolled his eyes and shook his head.


So, off they went and when they were far enough from shore, Sylvia pointed the way and Sandy set his sail just like he'd seen the human people do. The wind filled the sail and away they went.


Sandy struggled at first, learning how to move the sail so the raft would go in the direction he wanted to go, but finally he got the hang of it and followed Sylvia without a problem.


The sky was bright blue as the little raft skimmed over the waves and the first day went without any hitches, and when evening came, Sandy was very tired. He was not used to the work it takes to sail a raft.


He was also very hungry, but when he tried to swim down to the bottom for some seaweed, he found the ocean was too deep and climbed back onto his raft, wishing he'd brought some food along.


Just then, Sylvia popped her head out of the water with a mouthful of seaweed and laid it on the raft.


The next problem Sandy faced was, sleep. The boat kept moving  and Sandy had to keep watch so his raft would stay on course. This was not going quite the way he had thought it would.


When he told Sylvia of his dilemma, she smiled and said, "No problem. Just lower the sail and tie a rope to my waist and I'll see that your raft stays on course so you can get some sleep.


And so, in that manner, Sandy was able to get some much needed rest.


Sandy woke up just as the sun was edging it's way above the horizon. Right after breakfast, he would take command of his raft again and continue his adventure.  Looking around, he realized he'd been so hungry last night that he'd eaten all the seaweed Sylvia had brought him.


So, once again, Sylvia dove down to the bottom and brought up seaweed - this time, enough to last several days.


She pointed in the direction of an island in the far distance and told him to sail toward it while she went in search of breakfast for herself.


Sandy did as instructed and was sailing along at a steady pace when the sky turned black and the wind began to blow harder. Thunder rumbled through the dark clouds and lightning struck the water, not far from Sandy's raft, knocking him down. Sandy screamed and grabbed the mast and held on tightly. He was scared. This was nothing like he thought it would be. What did human people do when storms came upon them, he wondered.


The heavy wind ripped the sail loose from the mast and Sandy watched helplessly as it blew away.


He was standing with his legs wrapped around the mast when a giant wave came roaring down on him and his little raft.


The raft was lifted into the air and hurled through the air like it was nothing at all, and when it came down, it landed hard against the ocean, ripping the ropes apart, tearing the raft into pieces, sending them in all different directions.


Sandy had been thrown into the air, along with his raft, but when he landed, he dove deep into the water to get away from the wrath of the storm. He swam underwater for as long as he could and when he could no longer hold his breath, he swam to the surface. When his head came out of the water, he sneezed to get rid of the salt water his body had absorbed and drew in great gulps of air.


It was dark and rain was pounding down on the surface of the ocean. Poor Sandy had no idea in which direction to swim.


But even if he did, it would have done him no good because the giant waves were tossing him around so that it was all he could do to stay afloat.


Sandy swam as hard as he could, trying to keep his head above water, but he could feel his strength giving out.


Just as he felt he could no longer move his legs, he felt something beneath him and looked down. Sylvia had come to his rescue and he was standing on her shell. She popped her head above the water and asked, "What happened to your raft?"


"The storm broke it apart," Sandy said, hanging his head. "I guess I didn't build it strong enough."


Sylvia nodded her head. "It's closer to go back than to keep going. Do you want me to take you home?"


Sandy sighed and said, "Yes. I think that's the best thing to do. But don't think I'm giving up," he said with a stern look. "Next time I will build a stronger boat that has and anchor and I will bring food and water. Plus, I will study this sailing thing. It's a bit more complicated than I thought."


Sylvia smiled and told Sandy to lie down on his stomach so he could hold on.


"When you get your new boat built, let me know. It will be fun showing you the islands. But this time, make sure it's a strong boat," she said as she turned and swam towards Pinta Island.


About The Author

Suffice to say, besides being a writer for many years – Stringer for several newspapers, my own bi-line for articles in SAG and AFTRA mags., short story writer, screenwriter, and now two books, I’m also a blue water sailor, been a carnival barker, wrestled an ape on exhibition, rode the rails as a hobo for the experience, rodeo clown, storyteller, stand-up comic, MC, electrician, power lineman, owned several companies, circus clown, over 20 years as a prof. actor; Stage, Film and Television, along with some other stuff I can’t think of right now. As my good friend, Jimmy Stewart once said, It really is a Wonderful Life.