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Sailing with Charlie: Sailing with Music

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Charlie likes music; he also likes silence, but there’s a time and place for everything. When there’s a high pressure system over the islands and the atmosphere is crystal clear; and when this is accompanied by a light 10 to 15 knot wind and flat seas, yachts simply glide along with barely a slap or roll. Then the music of Enya is perfect – a sort of surreal cosmic vibration of peace and tranquility. When the wind and weather pipe up to 20 kts+ it’s time for a bit of ‘Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll’, with the accent on rock and roll.

Popular music has changed a lot over the last four decades. Now we are assaulted by Rap that by any standard is actually far from music. It’s usually a monotone with distasteful lyrics and no melody. No type of sailing condition merits the accompanying noise of Rap.

Since about 1990, Techno music has become popular. It’s not really listening music but rather more suited to wild cavorting/dancing and enthusiasts may well be charged up with the latest designer drugs inducing an excited delirium. The ‘music’ often includes odd noises, banging, clicking and fast metallic rhythms. It was the music of choice on one of Charlie’s recent charters.

Charlie was motor sailing up the Sir Francis Drake Channel on a large catamaran when a guest turned the volume up on a techno tune. The guests, all up on the bridge deck, were nodding along to the rhythm when suddenly a loud screeching noise sent Charlie below to check on the engines’ drive belts. Surprise, surprise – it was all part of the music. Then a cell phone rang – again it turned out to be part of the music. Charlie returned to the bridge deck with a glass of water (as though this was his only intention for going below) and started a conversation with one of the guests, a large obese German, who, while discussing the merits of German beer, rather rudely let go a long and noisy fart … You guessed it; it turned out to be part of the music.

Eventually they anchored in a beautiful bay on Peter Island and Charlie recommended they all go snorkeling. The fat man was last in, after much cajoling by the other guests. Charlie went up to the bridge deck to check on the chart plotter that was having hiccups and after adjusting knobs, buttons and controls he heard yet another staccato-like noise – “Aaaarrrchttt- ffftt.”

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A second or two later there it was again – “Aaaarrrchttt- ffftt.”

Charlie was, by now, thoroughly sick of techno music and went below to turn it OFF.

To Charlie’s surprise the noise wasn’t coming from the stereo but from the hugely obese guest who was finding it impossible to climb the swim ladder to regain the deck. His face was starting to turn blue and he was coughing up sea water. “Hold tight,” said Charlie. Fortunately there was a spare halyard and he quickly rigged it to the electric winch. “Here, put this loop around you and under your arms.”

“Aaaarrrchttt-ffftt,” replied the fat man. In minutes and with just minor scrapes he was on deck and still alive – just.

After the man was comfortable with an ice cold Stellenbosch, Charlie found three techno CDs on the chart table. Somehow they became lost.

Sailing With Charlie Humor by Julian PutleyCartoon by Christine Taylor
Cartoon by Christine Taylor


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

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

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