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The Donkey

Charlie is often asked about the merits and defects of the various types of rigs on sail boats. Charlie is of the opinion that a cutter rig is the best option for a modern day cruising boat. Off the wind the cutter can expose a large sail area to the wind while in heavy weather a reefed mains’l and stays’l provide a well balanced rig that is easy to handle. The most common question Charlie is asked by potential boat buyers is: “Would you recommend a catamaran or a mono hull?”

The answer is always, “Well, what to you intend to use your sailboat for?”

If you are island hopping Caribbean islands then a ‘cat’ would probably be your best choice. The reasons are: shallow draft, wide beam allowing minimal heel, spacious cabins, large cockpit, generator space, trampoline for many fun activities and large bridge deck (on certain models) for great visibility.

For offshore sailing in the higher latitudes then a mono hull, with its forgiving heel in stormy weather and the righting ability afforded by a substantial keel, would be my choice – for the safety factor.

One day, on a shore excursion, Charlie discovered that lansdsmen have to make similar choices: Three Islanders were sitting at the domino table outside a rum shop discussing the merits of a donkey, a mule, a burro and an ass. One of the players, a toothless old fella in a cloth cap, slammed a domino onto the table and declared that a burro was the same thing as a donkey. He also explained that a jackass was a male donkey while a jenny was a female. “An’ another t’ing. Ain’ no mules around here. Dey a cross ‘tween a donkey an’ a horse.”

Dolph was sitting across from the old man; he was a large man and wore a baseball cap backwards. He slammed his domino down even harder and took a long draught from his third glass of Guinness. “Jenny,” he shouted to the bar maid, “Bring me a nex’ Guinness.”

The third player was Cornelius. He was tall and thin and wore his dreadlocks in a tam. His T shirt displayed Bob Marley smoking a huge spliff. Although he was usually quiet, he considered himself an expert on donkeys. “My fadder have two donkeys and it’s asses you call dem., burros is the Spanish word. We got a male and a female an’ dey always win the donkey races at carnival.” He slammed down a domino. “But dat female, she eat an’ eat an’ find it hard to walk now she gettin’ old.”

The old man was next to play but as luck would have it the bar maid was just arriving with Dolph’s Guinness when Cornelius exclaimed, “Dat Jenny one fat ass!”

Well, I suppose you could say it was unfortunate that the barmaid was called Jenny but she took immediate offence and slammed the beer onto the table. It wobbled for a moment and then toppled over and spilled all over Cornelius’ favorite shirt. There were expletives all round, a good game of dominoes was ruined and all three were described as ‘wuthless’ by the irate woman. Ironically the lady was as broad as a barn door, which lent truth to the saying, ‘Only the truth hurts.’

From that day forward Cornelius vowed to never call a donkey an ass; a burro it would be.

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

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