Cap’n Fatty Goodlander takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the rise of Bareboat
The recent ‘open season’ (February 12th to April 18th) declared on bareboaters by the WWPA (Water and Wildlife Protection Agency) of the Lesser Antilles has sparked far more controversy than anticipated.
There have been riots on a number of dinghy docks in St. Croix, Antigua, St. Maarten, Tortola, and Grenada.
Four marine chandleries have been looted.
Two police boats have been set afire.
One of the main focal points of protest has been the ‘bull’s eye’ t-shirts passed out by Pristine Paradise Charters. A number of arrow-shy customers have refused to wear them on the beach, where they feel particularly vulnerable to cross-bows.
“This is a humane, region-wide culling of the fleet,” declared Ima Fonie of the Department of Fish and Fishy Business (DFFB). “Obviously, the numbers of bareboaters have risen dramatically over recent years, while our collective ability to care for their humanitarian needs has not kept pace. Understandably, charter companies don’t want to refuse legitimate business, so this ‘pro-consensus, pro-business, pro-environment’ policy of ‘sign ‘em up, and cull ‘em out’ seems a workable solution for all concerned. The overpopulation of our harbors was reaching epidemic proportions. Locals couldn’t make dinner reservations—or even buy sunblock on-island. Many of our harbors had more anchor-draggers than anchor-ers. Something had to be done—in a controlled, humane, and relatively painless way. Let’s face it—we’re saving these occasional sailors from the misery of fruitlessly searching for moorings and the agony of endlessly attempting to cram their dinghies into our bulging docks … not to mention the long lines at Customs and Immigration.
“Nobody rational and reasonable in the eastern Caribbean is arguing about the obvious need to bring down the numbers of increasingly hungry, increasingly angry bareboaters roaming the Antilles, only the method. We initially proposed putting ‘em to sleep, similar to how some countries handle the overpopulation of dogs and cats. Alas, we could not identify the Federal funding. Thus, when the Bow Hunter Groups stepped forward to offer their community services gratis—well, we jumped at the chance. Now, for many confused, frantic, sun-toasted bareboaters, the end comes swiftly, silently, and with great surety … all big pluses. Sadly, we’ve been repeatedly accused of callousness—mostly by land-based journalists not doing their research. This is ridiculous. Nothing could be further from the truth. We care about the quality of life for all—EVEN bareboaters!”
“It’s an outrage,” declared Jack Tarr of the Weekend Warrior Sailing (WWS) consumer group. “Bareboaters are human beings too. In the US of A, at least, yacht ownership doesn’t afford you any extra civil rights … only mega-money does! Plus, it is a cruel and inhumane practice … to be stalked by overweight sportfishermen from their flying bridges … I don’t care if they are raising money for the Kid Scouts of America or not!”
“We of the Seven Seasons Cruising Association,” declared President Rotound of the ketch-rigged multihull Fat Cat, “can appreciate both sides of the argument. Many of us started out as rough-and-ready bareboaters—if the truth be known. Of course, it goes without saying that there are simply too many bareboaters in the Caribbean—even at shoreside nautical events such as Jimmy Buffett concerts, for example. But shooting defenseless, sunbathing bareboaters with bows and arrows? Isn’t that a bit extreme? Surely this barbaric practice indicates a bit of pent up anger on the part of the shore-huggers! Even worse is the PIDA (Professionals Interested in Diving and Anarchy) proposal to allow spearfishing to protect our reefs. I mean, even ignoring the human element … do we really want to train our local sharks to dine on long pig?”
Needless to say, the gun-folks aren’t happy about being excluded.
“This is another example of the wishy-washy liberals being anti-gun,” said an aging actor from the NSA (National Shotgun Association) whose plastic surgery enabled him to look a lot like Charlton Heston’s younger brother. “Why only bow hunters? Okay, maybe this makes sense with sailboaters because of the Silky Silence of Sail … but surely rental jet-ski operators wouldn’t object to a loud 12 gauge blast or two!”
The US Coasties are attempting to remain above the fray while stressing their Safety First campaign. “Now, with recent changes in the bareboat season’s rules and regs, it is more important than ever to wear your Personal Floatation Device (PFD),” said a National Spokesperson in Washington, D.C. “It could save your life or help ID your remains—either way, a considerable service to your next-of-kin.”
“The problem isn’t the official cull,” stated John ‘Hi-Fly’ Hamilton of the kite surfers contingent, “but rather that poachers are harvesting bareboaters out-of-season—even underage ones. Let’s face it—bagging a 12 year old in a rented Opti is hardly something to brag about!”
Perhaps the most grisly note was struck by the Food for Thought association spokeswoman. “It is never correct to kill simply for sport,” said Connie Kompasson. “Let’s face it—nobody wants to die in vain, not even a barely-boater! So our philosophy is simple: if you kill it, eat it!”
“Not a good idea, dietary-wise,” says Karl Barely, of the US Department of Health. “For one thing, old sailors … especially bareboaters… are notoriously tough. For another, they tend to be high in sodium.”
“Where is your compassion?” asks Mother T, who has a well-known ‘harbor ministry’ (and reality TV show on Sea-Span) which administers to the marine-afflicted. “Bareboating shouldn’t be a crime—rather it should be looked upon as a controllable, occasionally-even-curable disease. Nobody wants to drown in sunblock, be whipped by flailing jib sheets, and have their life-savings depleted at Foxy’s! And yet, many of bareboating’s saddest victims return year after year for continued abuse—and not just by the sun. So, clearly, it’s an addiction. The bottom line is that bareboaters should be pitied, not punished!”
“Not true,” hisses Larry Hardon of Lubbers Against Leniency. “Bareboaters know they are evil—why else would they strip naked and voluntarily jump off the Willie T?”
The largest charter company in the Lesser Antilles say they are offer special deals during Cull Week. “Just like during hurricane season, if your charter is disrupted by a culling fatality—survivors win a bonus week! Yes, you can devote most of this bonus period to the memorial service, etc., but there should still be plenty of time for spinnaker flying, boogie boarding, and spousal keel-hauling.”
Obviously, interviewing the actual bareboaters themselves is a rather delicate business. However, this reporter managed to snare a rare interview with one outspoken long-time bareboater about their hobby/addiction—and why they’re still keen on grabbing a mooring pennant at The Baths.
“I first chartered with Dick Avery aboard the schooner Victoria,” said my elderly-but-game source (through a voice-disguise machine, so he couldn’t be fingered by audio-gram). “That was, like, back in the Stone Age. I’m like, yo dude, the original charterer and bareboater. I’ve been playing the game so long; I even remember when charterboat companies were operating in St. Thomas! And I chartered an original CSY 44 … this was, of course, before we realized that sailboats could go to windward. Oh, and I remember chartering an Outhouse 41 and not being able to tell if it was aground or just slow. Ditto, the Morgan 461 named Half-Tide Rock! Oh, those were the glory days of chartering … long before you had to feed your mooring balls with $20 bills every hour!
“Nowadays, of course, I choose to bareboat Hunter’s,” he continued, “because the traveler arch is such a good place to duck behind when the arrows fly.”
One-widowed sailor-gal who prefers to remain nameless said: “I’m housekeeper. Each of my husband’s went off bareboating and got culled/killed … and, well, I kept the house. Yes, this culling policy can bring a lot of pain to the victim’s family. That’s true. However, there’s always a bright side. All my husbands died happy. For instance, my youngest and most famous … dear, dear Harold—whose head and shoulders are still mounted behind the bar at the Virgin Gordo Yacht Club in Bull Bay—say what you want, but he died with a smile on his salt-splashed face! I’ve been told he was happily yelling, “…starboard!” at his archer as he gloriously went up to Fiddler’s Green. Isn’t that sweet?”
“The key to profitability is being flexible,” says general manager Richard Brandsome of the San Juan-based Viagra Blue airlines. “We charter a lot of aircraft into Antigua for race week—and Sint Maarten’s Hennie, too. An increasing number of bareboaters boarding the return flights have arrows still sticking out them—which has forced us to install loose-fitting seats made of nylon-webbing and, of course, IV-drips of Mount Gay for the pain.”
“We are, admittedly, a victim of our own success,” admitted Sir Rabble Rouser (OBE and SOB) of St. Vincent. “Many of the soccer hooligans from England, for example, are now bareboating in hopes of catching footie fans from Forza or Barcelona in a deserted anchorage …”
“If we don’t cull,” stated a member of the VI legislature who preferred to remain anonymous, “then the increasingly-feral bareboaters will soon be living off the garbage found in the dumpsters of Mustique! And, ultimately, they will be stealing the lobsters from the dinner plates of real yachties who own their vessels!”
Needless to say, All At Sea will keep you informed as the situation unfolds.
(Editor’s note: Cap’n Fatty appears to be off-his-meds again in Great Cruz Bay, St. John.)
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander lives aboard Wild Card with his wife Carolyn and cruises throughout the world. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon by American Paradise Publishing, Seadogs, Clowns and Gypsies, The Collected Fat, All At Sea Yarns & Red Sea Run. His latest book, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com
Here’s a collection of some of Cap’n Fatty Goodlander’s Books