I’m a believer in new marine technology—an early-adapter of long standing. Thus, when I received my personal Ocean Signal AIS (Automatic Identification System) RescueMe MOB1 unit I was thrilled. Not only would it alert ships in the area if I fell overboard, it would also ring a DSC alarm aboard my own vessel.
Wow, an offshore sailor’s dream-come-true! The units are USCG-approved, compact, and waterproof. They also have lithium-ion batteries that last up to seven years. The unit itself is warrantied for five—and can be field tested whenever desired. What’s not to like?
Marital life aboard is hard enough—now this. Shipboard romance will never be the same. Offshore matrimony has always been predicated on the knowledge neither spouse can escape but, suddenly, this is no longer the case. Crew members now have options, i.e., spouse abuse is becoming elective; not mandatory. They can vote with their fins, so to speak.
Woe be unto us!
Options are the last thing a skipper wants to offer his crew.
The Maersk Line container ships are, for example, reported to have fabulous chefs. French vessels often have wine cellars in the bilge. (Go Dutch if you’re a pothead; be on the lookout for weaving Moroccan vessels if hash is your thang!). Certain Argentinian bulk carriers are rumored to slaughter and age their own beef—and then grill it on the aft deck. Freighters from South Africa are notorious for their biltong. Saki lovers thirst to be plucked from the sea by crewmembers of Japanese car-carriers.
Yes, jumping overboard has never been so good.
It’s a whole new world—with Stoli-loving binge drinkers stepping overboard in front of Russian tankers, serial borrowers flinging themselves at Greek vessels, and adventurers in search of rhythm favoring African ships.
I mean, think about it.
It used to be going trans-oceanic required a passenger ticket—now any yacht in mid-ocean can start dispersing its hungry, adventure-seeking crew (via AIS MOB) to the Four Corners.
Once my AIS Rescue unit was aboard and functioning—marital discord immediately reared its ugly head.
“… are you kidding me,” my wife Carolyn yelled, totally outraged.
“… calm down, honey,” I said. “Don’t take it personal, okay? I’m just going by what the freak’n unit says, okay? Its like, FCC law or something! Even the USCG says it is for MOB situations, that’s MAN overboard, not COB, HOB, COB …”
“COB?” she asked.
“Chick Over Board,” I said.
“Hag Over Board,” I explained, and hastened to change the subject before she got to the next one. “What could be more clear and concise than MAN Over Board, eh? And aren’t sharks MAN-eaters as well? Don’t you see the obvious connection?”
“You are a … MCP!” she spat.
Suddenly the shoe was on the other foot. “MCP?”
“Male Chauvinist PIG,” she laughed.
“Honey, your bra-burning days are over,” I sneered, “by about eighteen inches. I mean, you don’t want to trip on ‘em, do you?”
This really set her off—see what I mean about being overly sensitive?
That evening in mid-Pacific-passage she wore our Bose Noise-canceling headphones into her bunk, so she wouldn’t “… be woken up by that DSC (digital selective calling) thingy of yours.”
There’s no reasoning with her!
“That’s so … IMT; so ImMaTure!” I shot back. “I mean, if I fell over and the DSC rang—would you really just turn over and go back to sleep?”
“You wouldn’t want me to usurp the helms-Man position, would you,” she asked sweetly, “or toss in the AHOB pole!”
“Don’t be asinine,” I said, and then abruptly stopped to think about it.
Ultimately, of course, I had to give into her in order to get value out of my new electro-toy—what good is the crew knowing I’m in the water watching the transom disappear if they won’t come back?
Yes, it was time to eat every captain’s constant dish—crow!
“Hey, babe, I was only joking!” I cajoled her. “I mean, you didn’t believe any of that ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ stuff, did you?”
“You’re just trying to get on my good side,” she huffed, “in case we have a SOB-MOB.”
“… son-of-a-bitch man-over-board?”
“You got it!”
I figured I’d just outsmart her—but, alas, Marine Signal wouldn’t sell me an empty unit no matter how much I begged.
Ultimately I was forced to accept parity—no matter how silly that is in relationship to the fairer sex.
“Okay,” I conceded, “we’ll eliminate the corporate sexism by calling the MOB device a POB or PERSON Over Board device.”
“Okay,” she said, “I can Lean In to that.”
She never misses a chance!
But this new unit (which is small enough to clip on a PFD so you won’t be SOL) changed everything.
Bickering cruising couples are now hanging just outside the shipping lanes—so they can calculate their culinary options should they decide to actuate their PreNup. (My wife automatically gets the dinghy and the holding tank at the mere mention of cruising dissolution.)
Yesterday NoonSight Press came out with a website called YachtJumpersPlus.com—sort of a Travel Advisor for washed-over yachties with wanderlust—to enable them to rate the hospitality of their hosts.
I’m currently rushing into print a book about the niceties of Intentional ShipBoard Imposing (ISBI) such as never using your left hand at dinner on an Islamic craft.
I’m not the only one cashing in. Homer is rumored to be releasing YachtJumping the Med.
Don Street Junior claims he ‘opened up’ YachtJumping in the early 1950s—around the same time he invented earth—well, the watery bits, anyway.
Lin Parody claims the freighters would be better off without engines—but then, she would, wouldn’t she?
The Teabaggers are, of course, advising all foreigner skippers to only pick up American MOBs—how that’s going, exactly, I’m not sure.
Budget Marine offers free CO2 cartridges to all YJs (yacht jumpers) using one of their inflatable Signature Series PFDs (Jimmy Buffet, Joshua Slocum, Donald Crowhurst)—while Island Water World counters with a five-gallon tin of sunblock for each YJ who has spent more than 48 hours in the water.
The AMA has issued health guides—while (surprise!) the maritime lawyers are suing everyone with deep pockets, regardless of race, creed, or color.
Only the GWFYJ Union (Great Whites for Yacht Jumpers) has failed to comment.
Needless to say, there are many legal issues emerging as well—is a freighter actually required to pick up a YJ who has ‘accidently fallen overboard’ more than, say, three times in any given year?
How many times is a yacht allowed to leave St. Barth with six crew and arrive in SXM with only a captain happy-to-be-rid-of-em?
How much luggage can a YJ bring aboard the rescuing vessel?
Will linens be provided?
“There’s a lot of grey areas,” the Reverend Al Sharpton recently stated during a recent (paid) speech to the CCC (Cruising Caribbean Crackers) association, “but the bottom line is ALL lives matter, that ALL YachtJumpers are created equal under the law.” He paused, then continued, “You think getting a taxicab in NYC is tough? Try treading water off Bermuda as an oil tanker from Cape Town rolls by!”
Obviously, not everything is evolving smoothly. It’s not just racism—sexism rears its ugly head too. Some Greek yacht ladies from the island of Lesbos who jumped over as long term couples have complained they were rescued, rudely questioned about their sexual orientation—and then tossed back overboard by vessels loaded with raging heterosexuals.
Some imaginative YachtJumpers are pseudo-advertising via the yacht-name displayed for the rescuing vessel on their AIS units—and, obviously The Happy-Happy Masseuse doesn’t have to back-stroke for long in the shipping lanes.
The religious far right—not that many of them sail—suddenly they have an issue that has national traction: navigation aids.
Donald Trump has, weirdly, instructed all of his ships to only pick up sailors with comb-overs. Bernie Sanders says MOB situations should be divorced from net worth—that sailors should be picked up ‘according to need’ while freighters should ‘pluck, not cherry pick’ according to their ability.
NRA members are suggesting that any YJ who isn’t an NRA member into Open-Carry with GFD (gun flotation device)—can be legally used for target practice beyond the 12 mile limit.
The ACLU demands that female Muslim YJs have equal pick-up rates, regardless of their black burkas or dour attitudes.
The USCG wants the Supreme Court to clarify the ‘willing, happy’ MOB, the ‘intentionally tossed but not informed’ MOB, and the old fashioned traditional MOB. Even my wife is weighing these weighty ‘flotsam and jetsam’ issues. Last week I almost slipped off the swim platform while underway—and she curtly informed me I was lucky I didn’t as she wasn’t ‘going back for white trash!’
Gee, it’s a whole new NSJR (No Search, Just Rescue) world, and now it’s migrating to an AIS near you.
Editor’s Note: Cap’n Fatty and Carolyn are currently in Singapore, attempting to teach their new granddaughter Tessa Maria to say, “Aye Aye, skipper!”
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander and his wife Carolyn are currently on his third circumnavigation. Fatty is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Creative Anchoring, is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com