In Venice, a Young Boatman Steers a Course of His Own
A young boy with a wooden paddle drifts effortlessly across one of the city’s most impressive canals, his round face contorted in concentration. He’s probably 14 or 15 years old, and the boy is on his way to work — on a sailboat that he just launched from a backyard dock in this small city by the Adriatic.
The young boatman in Venice has set down his paddle and is now sailing toward the next mark in his training regimen for becoming a professional sailor.
He has just passed his final test, passed an examination to become a master mariner, and will soon follow in the footsteps of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather, who have made Venice a sailing city.
This man and the family that made Venice a sailing city in the 16th century can teach us a lot about who we are.
We are sailing a new age of commerce — one that is as much cultural as it is commercial. We are taking control of our own destiny. And we are learning to live in more tolerant, cooperative and inclusive societies.
There’s good reason why people in ancient Greece found the sea to be a place of power and freedom. It didn’t make them bad at all — in the same way that you don’t have to be a bad person to do something that’s great. And that’s an ancient philosophy, still with us.
In the centuries before the age of sailing, there were hundreds of sailors in the Mediterranean who made a living as privateers — stealing goods and goods from ships and transporting them for profit on their own boats.
They had a name: pirates.
The name pirate — a word that came from the Spanish, “pirateio,” means “dissatisfied” in Latin. To be a pirate, you have to be dissatisfied, and you have to be unhappy. The ships that pirate traders hijacked were often laden with slaves. (Slavery was a widespread practice in the Mediterranean at the time.) They also took booty, including corsairs.
The pirate who set out to make history in the 16th