Swine Not: A Novel Pig Tale - By Jimmy Buffett & Helen Bransford Page 0,1

house with a smile on my face. I told my wife, Jane, who had introduced me to Helen many years earlier, that this was one of the quirkiest and funniest stories I had read in a long time.

The next morning, just before sunrise, I made my cup of English breakfast tea and walked out of the silence of the house into the still-dark morning. My usual route was down to the dock to smell the sea, then up the oyster-shell driveway to my office to work. My job that morning, I thought, was to edit Helen’s story and give it back to her with my advice about where to get it published. That would take me into midmorning, and I would drop off the manuscript at her house on my way out to surf.

Lindbergh said, “We are of the stars,” and I believe and feel it and have always looked up to them for guidance, whether I was trying to find my way across the ocean or into the yet unwritten pages of a story. Standing at the water’s edge, I took in the view overhead of lingering planets and constellations still visible over the bay. My front yard, where the sea meets the sky, combined with the silence and the beauty of the natural world at that hour of the day, has long created a thinking spot. Sometimes there are things in a story or a song that need to be worked out. Other times I am just waiting to be struck by some invisible asteroid of inspiration. It is a good way to go to work, especially when you don’t really know what your job is.

Well, that morning, the stars did not directly do their inspirational thing, but instead they pointed me toward another source of thought. Sitting fifty yards off the beach was my little sailboat, High Cotton. She was a lovely and, some say, historic little gaff-rigged sloop that looked as good sitting at rest on a mooring line as she did under full sail. The sun was just beginning to light the sky to the east, and there was barely a whisper of breeze on the bay. I could hear the water, pushed by the incoming tide, lapping against her hull. As I sipped my tea and savored the moment, it suddenly happened. The stars had come through again. Staring at High Cotton, I heard a chord of familiarity ring out, and the universe connected the sailboat to Helen’s pig tale.

High Cotton was not a name I would have chosen for a boat, and it certainly didn’t fit the list of past vessels that I had christened. She had been someone else’s dream, and someone else had named her. Naming, and especially renaming, a boat is a very serious and superstitious undertaking. It would be like renaming your child. Somewhere back in the mythology of mariners, it was decreed that if you acquired a boat that had already been christened, you could rename it only once, and the moment to do that was immediately after you sailed her for the first time. If you did it any time after that moment, it was very bad luck, and nobody wants to sail on a bad-luck boat.

When I bought High Cotton, she had come with an incredible pedigree, having been designed by Nathanael Herreshoff as a Buzzards Bay 25 and having been built at the legendary Brooklin Boatyard in Maine by Joel White, master boatbuilder and son of E. B. White. In her first year, she had made herself an instant reputation as one of the fastest and most beautiful boats in New England, and had won prestigious races from Newport to Nantucket, but I had not bought her to race. All I was looking for in High Cotton was a beautiful single-handed boat that I could spend time in alone on the water. With all the other things that I find myself doing, I still just like being a sailor best, and sailing a boat alone is what a good sailor can do. High Cotton may not have been my original idea, but I could make her into that kind of boat and stay true to the designer’s original vision.

Staring at the boat that morning and listening to the stars, I realized that, like High Cotton, Helen’s pig tale was a treasure I had inherited. It had captured my attention and had gotten me thinking that there was more to the story. That is the way