Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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Speed Racer

September 21, 2016

My dad was a professional mechanic for the City of Sunnyvale in California. His mechanical ability and interest in cars leapfrogged over me to our son CJ, who shares his late grandfather’s passion for cars.

           

Last Christmas, CJ treated himself to an automotive experience at Portland International Raceway. He signed up to drive half a dozen laps in a high powered vehicle, but the aneurysm he experienced the day after Christmas forced a postponement until after his recuperation. He finally took his ride in May when Mrs. Chatterbox and I were in Key West so I wasn’t present to take pictures, but here are a few CJ snapped. I wish he’d taken a selfie.

           

It was raining buckets the day of the ride. After signing a twenty-seven page waiver, CJ selected a Ferrari. (Actually, I might have gone with the orange Lamborghini.) I’m not a car guy, but knowing some of my readers are prompted me to grill CJ on a few particulars. The car was a 500 horsepower Ferrari F430, valued at $185,000. His goal was to get it over a hundred miles an hour but he only managed to come close because of the pouring rain and slick pavement. CJ claims the techs monitoring him were impressed by his driving ability and fully controlled kick-outs (I have no idea what this means) and told him he’d driven harder and faster than most, especially taking the rain into consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CJ had a terrific experience and he’s trying to convince me to join him next time. Yeah, like that’s gonna happen. People like me who distract easily— (Look, a pretty cloud!) —and drive well below the speed limit with their turn signal blinking for miles have no business sitting in 500 horsepower vehicles that cost $185,000. My 1999 RAV suits me just fine. I have no idea how much horsepower it has. Probably a lot less than 500.

 

What about you? Do you have a need for speed?

 

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
The closest I've come to driving something like that is playing the Need for Speed video game. Most of those fancy sports cars are stick shifts anyway, which I've never really driven.
By: PT Dilloway on September 21, 2016
nah- I don't need to speed....rather look at clouds!
By: Kathe W. on September 21, 2016
I wouldn't say I have a NEED for speed, but I do have an appreciation. The awesome feeling of acceleration when an airplane is taking off makes my heart pump faster and puts a grin on my face that lasts for most of the flight. I never speed on the highways (as if it's even possible in the Atlanta area most of the time...) but I'd love to experience high-speed driving in a controlled environment like your son did. That must have been a blast!
By: Susan Swiderski on September 21, 2016
I once got my '68 VW bug up to 75 mph down a hill. That was all the thrill i need.
By: cranky on September 21, 2016
Must have been quite a thrill for your son...glad he is doing so well now, you had a real scare for sure last year!
By: cranky on September 21, 2016
A high-end BMW is the best car I've ever driven. If they had a Bugotti, I would do it for sure. I drive my own little sports car fast anyway. I won't say how fast...
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on September 21, 2016
I LOVE to drive fast! But I don't think I have the reflexes to drive something like that now. I do know how to drive a stick shift though :)
By: The Bug on September 21, 2016
No need for speed here. I've never gotten a ticket. My former daughter-in-law drives race cars. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on September 21, 2016
The speed limit that is posted is plenty of speed for me.
By: messymimi on September 21, 2016
Back in my youth I loved to race competition go-karts. I particularly liked what we called the Italian B bombs that could hit speeds above 90mph. Racing fast, so low to the ground is an immense thrill. I also tested sprint cars, stock cars, Sportsman Class (jalopies), ran in a couple of demo derbies, drove a turbocharged Porsche and felt the g-forces when I got to 150MPH and was on banked curves. The greatest thrill was in a fast racing kart where you "feel" the track and the kart becomes an extension of your senses. The best car I owned was the first edition of the Cadillac STS Northstar system. It handled beautifully, fit like a glove and was very fast. In the south of France, where I went twice a year for 6 years, I serially tested BMW, Peugeot, Lancia, Mercedes. On the Esterel Mountain roads from Cannnes to Theoule su Mer, with curves and switchbacks the Lancia was a dream. On the A-8 in France and the German Autobahn the BMW ran beautifully at high speed. Now, as an aging boomer, my need for speed is a memory.
By: Tom Cochrun on September 21, 2016
Not anymore. Like Cranky, I got a non-sportscar up to 75 on a downhill. At least that's what the Missouri State Trooper wrote on the ticket for me and my Chevy Chevette. Congrats to CJ for having the right touch, and having the knack with cars that your dad had.
By: Val on September 21, 2016
these days, no. :)
By: TexWisGirl on September 21, 2016
I love speed!! I once drove my Mustang at 105 mph for a few miles--it was exhilarating!!
By: fishducky on September 21, 2016
No speed left in this old guy although I got a speeding ticket about 3 years ago.
By: red Kline on September 21, 2016
When I lived in Indianapolis, once upon a time everybody had sports cars. I drove a new '71 MGB. Somebody with connections got the use of the Indianapolis Raceway for a couple of hours. Not the Indy 500 but a sports car track with lots of curves. So we're all driving around the track and I was keeping up pretty well with Paul Page (a one-time Voice of the 500) when I spun out into the grass. I shakily limped back to the pit area and later learned that I shouldn't have tried to drive fast in 4th gear. And one other time I actually drove (my standard city streets car) around the Indy 500 speedway but I don't think I ever got above 65 MPH. The huge banked turns scared the hell out of me.
By: Catalyst on September 21, 2016
Well, 100mph+ used to be a normal occurrence on English motorways, but then again I guess they don't have the sharp bends of a race track :) Sounds like he had a good time.
By: Botanist on September 21, 2016
Those cars look impressive, but (like you) I'm a boring, drive-at-the-speed-limit man. I also think blokes of my age (late 50s) look a bit sad driving these sporty vehicles.
By: Bryan Jones on September 22, 2016
I drive fast. I got my little Capri up to 100 mph once at night on a lonely stretch of road in east Texas. the road was straight but hilly and I finally backed down because I was afraid of coming over a hill and there would be a car that I would be bearing down on. I got to my destination without encountering any other cars though.
By: Ellen Abbott on September 22, 2016
Kind of surprised they allowed the drive in those conditions but I know your son had to have been thrilled. Sorry you missed it but I'm happy CJ ;is doing so well. Cracked up at your "Look, a pretty cloud." I'm afraid that is me too. I have a need for scenery not speed.
By: Arkansas Patti on September 22, 2016
Close to a 100mph! :-) That's some achievement. I am not into speed. For me it takes away from the beauty of driving. Greetings from London.
By: A Cuban In London on September 22, 2016
I get scared with Go-Karts. That's why I drive them like a little old man. All the young punks laugh at me. But they can pass. Young punks.
By: Al Penwasser on September 22, 2016
Nice to read about son enjoying life. I enjoyed the sensation of speed. This was especially true when sking.
By: Daniel LaFrance on September 22, 2016
There was a certain period that ended before I left my teens when I loved speed and once (in a rural area) did take a car to 120. But that cured me.
By: Sage on September 23, 2016
Blimey I drive over 100 miles an hour on the motorway quite often. I hope a British cop isn't reading your blog. Glad your son had fun!
By: LL Cool Joe on September 25, 2016

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