Michael Gatti's Family Tree

Seven Ukrainians, One Russian and
One Irish-Colombian-American
Sail to Hawaii

AlexsayAlexsay Shagovsky (Old Man [The Chief engineer is called Old Man.]) was not only one of the hardest workers but a very sensitive religious family man. Very seldom do we men actually talk or try to communicate deeply. Most of the time, we simply say a lot of nonsense glorifying our own ego. The day Alexsay told me about the history of the Greek Orthodox Church was memorable. During this conversation it was Viacheslav Voitko that did all the translation between Alexsay and myself. We spoke slowly and expressed not only our views about life and death, but also about history and art. He particularly enjoyed my humor and the many photographs I took of him. One photo in particular was quite funny. It was a great sunset and Alexsay was relaxing, holding his arm on the belaying pins. I told him this would make a fabulous photo and so proceeded to take it. Every time I tried to take it, he would move not knowing that I wanted to place the Sun behind his head. Nevertheless, after many attempts, I snapped the trigger and got the great photo! Alexsay left Lahaina, Maui, a few days after we arrived in Hawaii and flew back to Kiev. The day before, we all had a great party in his honor, and the day he left was indeed unforgettable. In the morning, we all got into the dingy and went to the front of the Pioneer Inn Hotel in Lahaina where the shuttle bus was to take Alexsay to Kahului Airport. Imagine our surprise when up pulled a stretch limousine and the driver stepped out and said, “Sorry, but our bus is not available, so this will be your transportation.” I opened the door to let Alexsay go inside the limousine and saw many people inside laughing and drinking. I said, “This is my Ukrainian friend Alexsay, he does not speak any English, treat him well and with dignity.” They all answered, “We will, he will have a grand time with us.” And so he left as we all stood with our mouths wide open.

PassepartoutIlia Titov (Passepartout [Character in Jules Verne novel: Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, 1873]) flew all the way from Moscow to Los Angeles, California, just to be part of the volunteer crew. Just before we sailed to Hawaii, he wanted to purchase an inexpensive scooter in order to have transportation in Hawaii. I was able to find the scooter for him and he was able to take it apart, fix it, wrap it, and take it aboard. Hopefully, he would be able to sell it in New Zealand. After we left Dana Point he became our master electrician, fixing and repairing the used equipment aboard the Bat'kivshchyna. We were always in awe and delightfully surprised by his creativity, fixing items that were damaged or worn out using only the available materials aboard. He also used our single laptop computer to create artwork for the Captain, as well as sending emails via Sail Mail. To me he was most helpful, since the crew spoke mainly in Russian and Ukrainian which I did not understand. He also became our official translator. From Dana Point to Hawaii, I was the official medical officer simply because I brought a large box of medicine and supplies. Ilia became the official medical officer after I left Hawaii and returned to Los Angeles. Finally, let me add that he was constantly taking magnificent digital photos with his Carl Zeiss lens. In short, he had the following titles: Master Electrician, Communications Chief, Computer Expert, Official Translator, Official Medical Officer, and finally Photographic Historian of the Bat'kivshchyna. I will never forget a night in the middle of the Pacific Ocean when we were a little tipsy. Ilia, accompanied by Andrie Davydenko and Alaxsandr Shishkov, sang a loud a Russian drinking song and joyfully pounded the oak dining table in rhythm with the song.

KokochkaViacheslav Voitko (Kokochka [little boy who eats a lot]) was given his nickname because he was the tallest crew member. Viacheslav was a great crew member simply because he brought with him his radiant smile, good humor, hopeful attitude and friendly comradeship. When it was his turn to cook, we always looked forward to his scrumptious meals which he served with great panache. To cook anything in the galley was not only an ordeal but a creative effort. He would first look at the vegetables that were about to rot and after selecting those for the borsch (Ukrainian beet and cabbage soup), would always use a very large pot to keep the crew healthy and full. Because he was also a great swimmer, I felt quite safe when we all jumped into the Pacific Ocean midway from Dana Point to Hawaii. Personally, I enjoyed talking to Viacheslav about his life back in Ukraine and hearing the many stories about his studies in the Naval Academy and his family history. One day he will become a great Captain. He has the one key requirement which is lacking in many men, dignity and respect toward all the crew. He may become another giant, like Captain James Cook.

To pass the time while the days were quiet, we had the Bat'kivshchyna Chess Championship. I brought a magnetic portable chess set aboard, and I was somewhat wary when our first game was played, knowing that the Ukrainian 19-year-old, Ruslan Ponomariov, is the current World Champion. Many games went on for two days with suspense you could cut with a knife. This was the only time I saw Viacheslav unhappy. He made a bad move in a game he was winning. I won all the games becoming the champion. Only Viacheslav Voitko, Alaxsandr Kostyukov and I played. I wanted to take as a trophy one of the kitchen tools that hung on the walls of the galley. No such luck. These items go back to the museum in Kiev! The most laughable item which is used daily on the Bat'kivshchyna is the worn-out, used-up, black-taped, rusted-out, Kiev can opener! Ken Kling suggested we save this item as one more historical memento of the trip around the world.


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