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Even the instructor

How did it go?” one pilot asked Pietro when I made it back to Brussa.“Perfetto,” Pietro

said.Suddenly everyone was my best friend. Even the instructor who had failed me broke into a sunny, tobacco-stained smile.“So can I take the boat out by myself now?” I asked.“Perché no?” Why not? This was all I really needed to hear. I walked into a nearby bar, stood at the counter and pondered delaying my flight back to New York. But the Venetians had been right all along: It would take quite a few more lessons before I would feel comfortable about heading out solo. Which is maybe as it should be. Venice still has some secrets it won’t easily yield.I docked at Cimitero, the ancient island cemetery, to prowl the mausoleums; circumnavigated Sant’Erasmo; then called in at San Francesco del Deserto, a monastery still inhabited by monks. But as liberating as the boat was, I was very glad Pietro was along. I still couldn’t really tell the islands apart, so the chances of my finding my way alone seemed remote. And the Venetian navigational rules seemed fluid, to say the least. I couldn’t read half the boating signs, which were weathered or missing. When boats came speeding at me in several directions, I had no idea who had the right of way. It felt as if almost anything could happen. On one occasion, the outboard went into paralysis. Pietro stepped to the stern and put the engine in rapid reverse. Seaweed had wrapped itself around the propeller.
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