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Sailing with Charlie with The Dinghy

'Don't judge a man by the size of his dinghy' is a hackneyed expression that often elicits groans rather than laughter, but let's get things straight here – judging a man by his dinghy may be a valid assessment. After all, a large, loud and conspicuous dinghy may denote a lack of manliness in other areas.

There is no doubt that a man's dinghy helps describe his personality. A good friend of mine rows, or sculls, ashore in a double-ended Cape Cod Dory, much to the delight of onlookers. Dedicated sailors often use sailing dinghies denoting a carefree, laid back life style. Tourists favor fast rubber inflatables to whizz back and forth to beaches, coral reefs, beach bars, restaurants or party venues in search of a great time in a limited time. Rich charter yachts often have two dinghies eliciting comments like, "Oh, they're a two dinghy family," just like land based folks with two cars.

Securing your dinghy against theft, loss by careless knot tying or the odd storm that may carry it off a beach when swells are up are problems that cars-in-garages just don't have. The other day Charlie was preparing to raise sails on his charter boat when he noticed a boat ahead of him lose their dinghy; it just drifted away unnoticed. Charlie and crew changed course slightly and picked it up, increased their speed and with full sail and motor tried to catch up with the bereaved 'mother ship'. After half an hour of motor sailing towards the oblivious boat (and way off course to their own destination) they got almost within hailing distance. Charlie and crew shouted, screamed, waved, jumped up and down … The dispossessed crew turned around and waved happily back, oblivious to their plight. Charlie called on Ch.16 numerous times, again with no result. Crew member George was looking through the binocs, "I think they gave us the finger," he said.

Eventually they arrived at their anchorage and lo and behold there was the dinghyless yacht. Charlie towed it over to them.

"Oh, thanks," they said, "We didn't even know we'd lost it 'til we anchored. Would you like to come aboard for a cup of tea?" Charlie thought a case of rum would be better recompense but he just smiled and handed over the painter. Stuff happens he thought. Next time it could be me.

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

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