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Sailing with Charlie: Challenges

Perhaps Joe should have been a bit more discrete but during happy hour he sidled up to the inquisitive guest and put his arm round her waist and gave her starboard rump a friendly squeeze. Graphics by Hannah Welch
Perhaps Joe should have been a bit more discrete but during happy hour he sidled up to the inquisitive guest and put his arm round her waist and gave her starboard rump a friendly squeeze. Graphics by Hannah Welch

Isn’t it strange how some people can be so lacking in culture that they come out with the most personal questions at the most inopportune moments – and these to someone they have only just met. Sometimes personal questions can be taken to mean a personal response is expected. Here’s an example: Joe was the captain on a large catamaran some weeks ago and a young mixed crowd of unattached guests were his passengers. On only the second day out, one of the girls asked him, “…and how old are you?” Sometime later she approached him again and asked, quite pointedly, “Do you think it’ll rain tonight? I’m going to sleep on deck.”

Perhaps Joe should have been a bit more discrete but during happy hour he sidled up to the inquisitive guest and put his arm round her waist and gave her starboard rump a friendly squeeze. This resulted in a heated exchange of vitriol and did not set the stage for the rest of the trip. The whole episode brings to mind the following quote: ‘If a man talks dirty to a woman it’s sexual harassment, but if a woman talks dirty to a man it’s $3.50 a minute’.

Many couples on crewed charter yachts don’t last because they lack the important attributes of tolerance, patience and diplomacy. Charlie often mutters under his breath after the third request is made to close all hatches (prior to sailing, of course) and does it himself. The same applies to stowing items likely to crash to the cabin sole underway, putting dishes away, not just leaving them in the rack, turning off lights and fans when leaving the cabin etc., etc. Many captains liken their job to a baby sitter, nanny or geriatric care giver. “I’m surprised they can even wipe their own ass,” exclaimed Joe after one particularly tiresome charter. “Patience may be a virtue, but why isn’t hurry the f**k up a virtue.”

One of Charlie’s skills as a successful yacht captain is his ability to always turn a conversation from a negative tone to a positive one. The whingeing and responses may go like this.

Q: “It’s too windy.”

A: “Perfect for fast sailing.”

Q: “It’s not windy enough.”

A: “Perfect for snorkeling.”

Q: “The fridge isn’t cold enough.”

A: “Better eat the steaks tonight.”

Q: “We’re out of water.”

A: “Aaah, that’s why everyone smells so fresh.”

A good charter captain like Charlie is expected to provide entertainment as well as everything else and during happy hour there are some questions that always come up, like: How long have you been sailing? What are the biggest seas you’ve ever been in? What is the biggest boat you’ve ever sailed?

The anticipated answers are to appease the fears of the neophyte sailors/guests.

One answer to a question that is somewhat unexpected, “What was your most frightening experience?”

Answer: “When I found out that the girl I brought back to my boat in Singapore was a transvestite.”

PS. Joe is now a mate on a tugboat out of Palm Beach

Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

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