It is best not to allow cruising wives to meet other cruising wives. To put it another way: suffering at sea should be a solitary pursuit. A happy ship is one in which the crew isn’t fully aware how miserable they are. I nurture this cherished, long-standing maritime tradition by (1) seldom going ashore, (2) seldom bringing my wife when I do, and (3) visiting only Laundromats full of land-lubbing deaf mutes.
There are, alas, exceptions. I can’t bear to pass up free food. Often, I’m invited to sing for my supper. I do so, loudly. People think I won’t be too obnoxious if I’m eating. WRONG! I can eat and tell lies at the same time.
We writers refer to this as multitasking.
“It’s true,” says my wife Carolyn. “Pre-computer, Fatty used to make one mistake at a time. Now, in the name of career efficiency, he makes dozens of mistakes at the same time. Yes, he’s sooooo cyber-savvy, and my hero to the max!”
Recently we were invited aboard a large cattlemaran (well, a cruising catamaran large enough to graze cattle on its forward ramp and still have room left over for one nanny, one maid, one chef, an engineer, and a deckhand) named, romantically, Tax Exemption.
The engineer was holding court as we came aboard, explaining the ship’s intricacies. “We don’t need to run the V-16 Southern Cross GenSet 24/7 but we do anyway—to offset all the carbon-credits which came free-of-charge with our jetski fleet!”
“Here, here!” said a drunken, posh British voice—the intoxicated owner of the 468ft mega-yacht Chump Change, I believe.
“Many of the poor folk living in the temperate zones have thin clothes, and so it is important for our global manufacturing industries to continue to heat up the planet …” chimed in another—who was either a helicopter pilot or blimp steward off the sleek Italian vessel named Bigger Than Yours.
“Precisely so!” giggled another Blue Blazer, this one from Double Dipper. “I mean, they should butch up! If I’m too warm, I turn up the air-con! What’s the problem?”
Ah, the spirit of Marie Antoinette lives on!
The women onboard the catamaran all looked like Angelina Jolie: Young, thin, rich, and predatory.
Alas, my wife fell under the spell of one evil cruising wife in attendance.
I knew this TW (Trophy Wife) was evil the moment I laid eyes on her.
She wasn’t bruised. I could see no boat-bites. Her nails were not cracked, split, ripped, torn, and bitten to the quick. Her hair was (horrors!) combed. There were no dark circles under her eyes. Her nose looked odd: as if it had never been broken. She had teeth; a number of them. Worse, they were white, even, and had no large gaps.
She wore contact lenses, not OpShop eyewear frames held together with duct tape.
Her wristwatch worked, and wasn’t flooded with sea water.
Her wedding ring was gold, and had a diamond so large it had its own inflatable PFD …
“I’m a Fifo wife,” she said to my life-partner arrogantly as she sat down next to us, “and you look like a long term Siso.”
“Well,” my wife said timidly while running a shaky hand through her tangle of varnish-smeared hair, “I guess!”
Carolyn was obviously a bit taken aback, confused, and intimidated by the newcomer’s genuine plasticity.
The Fifo shook her head in sad inspection. “Well, at least you’re not an SOB—Stuck On Board.”
Poor Carolyn looked like she was drowning, so I stuck in my oar with, “and what does Fifo stand for?”
“Boy, you’re out of the loop, Skip” she said to me. “Fly in, Fly out.”
I hate being called Skip. I prefer skipper or captain … or even Sir Sailor—not that I put on airs.
Carolyn seemed cowed, and muttered something like, “… well, I flew on an airplane … a jet … in 1966, with my parents.”
The Fifo wasn’t impressed.
She ignored me, and spoke directly to Carolyn as if I wasn’t there. “… five million sperm cells in your average ejaculation—and your husband’s won. How sad!”
I could sense the struggle going on within Carolyn. Finally, her curiosity got the best of her. “You called me a Siso …”
Yes,” said the lady-whose-holding-tank-does-not-stink, “That’s an acronym for Sail in, Sail out. That’s what we Fifo’s call our fellow water-wives who have no self-respect.”
“… no self … what?” queried my wife, drowning in the swirl of all these new, too-trendy concepts.
“Boy, you are really not LEANING IN, are you?” said the Lady.
“Actually, it is very difficult to stand up in our boat during an offshore passage …”
“Exactly,” hissed the Lady. “And I don’t crawl.”
“… how do you … arrange to … not crawl?”
“By negotiating,” said the Lady. “Tit-for-tat, literally. All men are boys—that’s a given. My hubby, bless his little bald head, likes to be macho. So I allowed him to buy an oceangoing yacht that has a range of 12,000 miles—in exchange for a one million dollar debit card on Dockwise!”
“What?” my wife said, her eyes spinning.
“NSIS,” said the Lady. “No Shame In Shipping!”
My wife must have had wax in her ears—plus, she’s a tad earthy. “Of course there’s no shame in sh*#ting,” she said, puzzled.
“Shipping,” I corrected. “… that’s what the RB said, shipping!”
“… RB?” signed my wife, “is that, like, an inflatable dinghy?”
“Rich Bitch,” explained the One Who Was, without missing a beat. “But your DH … your Dumb Husband was right … on short hops, I fly in and fly out; on longer passages, we ship the boat. Nowadays, many of the major Yacht Transport Companies like Toy Box and Ship Toss and Yacht Sling have luxury apartments aboard them, too, should you and/or any of your crew wish to accompany your vessel and, you know, keep its log up-to-date and silver polished.”
All these options were making my wife short of breath. She was gasping for air, and making her pre-migraine fish-mouth motion. To cover up for her, I blurted, “They say it makes sense economically to ship their larger-than-Pittsburgh mega-yachts—but I think the real reason is that they don’t want their yachts to mingle with the likes of the 99 per centers. They don’t want them contaminated by people who work for a living, pay taxes, and troop off to war in the Mid-East on behalf of BO … Big Oil,” I said.
“I can remember a simpler day,” my wife said, almost in tears, “when GM had nothing to do with our food supply, and was totally content to just poison our rivers and streams.”
“The Good Ole Days are long-gone,” I commiserated with her.
“Now that Amazon and Google have joined their cyber forces and interfaced their cultural differences,” said the Lady. “Things are going to be different. None of us, man-nor-woman, will actually go to sea. We’ll just send our GoPros—and view the offshore passages in Real Time from the comfort of our gated communities ashore.”
I could tell my wife, normally the most contented of cruising spouses, was interested. Her eyes were aglow, her cheeks flushed. Yes, she looked totally different—there was hope in her eyes!”
“What’s the first step in casting off my cruising chains,” she asked the Lady, her voice rising in strength and determination. “Please! We’re on our third circ!”
“Oh, you poor dear,” said the Lady, obviously moved. “NSOP!”
“… whaaa?” Carolyn asked.
“No Sex On Passage!”
At this point, I felt it important to step in. After all, I am a captain. There are limits. Of course, I want to be extremely fair and completely non-sexist and totally PC and all—but too much truth can drown any women. I grabbed my wife, and pulled her outside. We went forward, and huddled by the electro-hydraulic roller furler.
“What she isn’t telling you about is the BBs,” I said. “When the RB FOs, the BB FIs!”
“I’m lost again,” my wife wailed, “can’t you S.T.O.P. with the acronyms.”
“I was talking to her fat-cat husband,” I told my wife. “And, well, she is going to be traded in soon … for a newer, thinner model. TRs, trophy wives, have a very limited shelf life …”
“What about the BBs?” she asked, wide eyed with what an evil world we inhabited.
“When the RB FOs, the BB FIs!” I said. “That means, the Bilge Bunnies—young chicks who are eager to snag a rich guy in hopes he’ll croak off in the saddle—Fly In when the RBs fly out! This is why wealthy people are so concerned about the On Time performance of an airline—so their aging, face-lifted wife isn’t confronted with their young, natural D-cup mistress!”
“But what will happen to her?” asked my wife, ever the compassionate one.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I’m not sure. She’ll turn into a cougar, I guess, and attempt to pick up adolescent kite sailors. Or worse. In any event, her Glory Days are over—and our marital bliss is just beginning!”
“SD, SD,” she cried in happiness, “Sugar Daddy!”
Editor’s note: Cap’n Fatty and Carolyn are currently hallucinating in the Torres Strait.
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander has lived aboard for 53 of his 60 years, and is currently on his third circumnavigation. He is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Buy, Outfit, and Sail is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com