The only reason to invite guests aboard is to torture them. I’m just being honest.
Let’s put it a different way: ever notice how the word SAILOR and SICKOS have the same number of letters—and start with the same letter as well?
Coincidence? I don’t think so!
Why invite a dirt-dweller aboard if not to enjoy their inevitable, eventual agony? What other reason could there be?
I’ve made peace with this. We sailors have a dark side—that’s a given. Half my guests call me Captain Bligh, while the other half refer to me as Sailor DeSade. So be it. I believe that landlubbers deserve and desire to throw up—it is what they do best. It’s their sole skill—that, and, well, to complain, beg and whimper.
… and pathetically demand to be put ashore, etc.
I try to set the authoritative tone early—via email. “Buy two tiny soft bags,” I write to my potential victims in my brief and chatty 87-page ‘Fat tips, tricks, and suggestions’ passage primer that I pre-send them, “and fill these tiny bags only with what you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE, and then leave one of those bags at home.”
Under the ‘using the head—that’s a marine toilet’ section, I write, “It is best if you don’t poop during the week you will be aboard. We suggest you pre-poop a number of times on the airplane enroute, and take care of any final stinky business ashore. However, if you DON’T WANT TO FOLLOW OUR ADVICE and you DO need to poop whilst at sea—well, we suggest you pump the head until your arm falls off, plus an additional fifty strokes to clear the hoses.”
First impressions are important. I start off enforcing ‘ship’s discipline’ in the parking lot as the taxi driver takes their luggage out of his trunk. I just start punting their bags around the pavement like soccer balls, screaming, “That’s the smallest bag you could find in all America? Really? BULL*#@*!”
The dinghy rides are always fun. I untie the dinghy so I can easily slide it, tell ‘em to ‘step in the center,’ and then swiftly shift my inflatable accordingly. (Dunking them early not only gets them in the right frame of mind—it eliminates any chance they might be able to call the police on their drowned iPhone while screaming, “I’m being kidnapped!”).
Getting aboard is fun as well. I intentionally anchor my 43-foot ketch in a swell. That way, when my transom rises up, I’m able to insert my tender directly under its swim ladder unobtrusively … so that I can ‘tenderize’ my bruised guests before they’re even aboard!
How cool is that?
See, it’s all about advance planning—with a dash of sado-seamanship tossed in for good measure.
Once our guests are aboard and so badly injured they can’t swim away—I hit ‘em with the truth. “This is a Swell Ship for the Captain and a Hell Ship for the Crew!”
Fools that they are, many think I’m joking at this point—an opinion I’ll soon rid them of the hard way.
Just so they quickly know who and what they are dealing with, I show them a garden bug sprayer. “Boats with lots of water use these wasteful things, but we (and now I hold up a tiny perfume atomizer) use these little lovelies to conserve our fresh water supply. Each of you will be issued a personal hygiene teaspoon of fresh water daily—to be used as you see fit … for washing, showering, drinking, cooking, etc.”
Occasionally, one of our guests might be a macho-man. You know the type: works out at the gym, jogs daily, races bicycles on Saturday, and runs marathons on Sunday, etc. To cut them down to size while under sail, I tell ‘em to haul in on the jib tag line to furl the genoa—but I don’t cast off the sheet to relieve the load.
This is impossible. “Come on, come on!” I shout at ‘em, “what, are you a GIRL? Duh? Put your back into it, man—oh, for gosh sakes! Are you weaker than Bristol Palin’s morals?”
Just when they’re about to give up or cardio-arrest, I tell my wife, “Carolyn, roll up the genoa, please!” as I luff up to relieve the 5,000-pound load. Once, a particularly dumb macho man leapt ahead of Carolyn to help her. She let go of the tag line as I bore off the wind a couple of degrees—and we both chuckled as Mister Macho was dragged forward down the deck and through a very small, painful block.
“Not as strong as you thought, are you?” I taunted our guest, who was now rolled up in the fetal position and whimpering.
Ah, isn’t sailing grand?
The women are easy to scare, especially when they’re in the water and you nonchalantly start talking about two highly interesting topics: the stats on menstruation and shark attack.
Men are a tad tougher to intimidate—but muttering about poisonous sea snakes and his ‘soft bits’ usually does the trick.
If there are kids involved, just mentioning how Great Whites view them as, like, wiggling popcorn surface snacks also tends to empty the water.
Actually, when we have guests aboard, I conserve everything but my criticisms.
“There are three types of people I hate,” I tell my shaking guests, “dirt-dwellers, rock-huggers, and shore sluts!”
Boat shoes are another area with easy-pickings—at least in terms of sea-going abuse. If my guests bring new shoes, I claim they haven’t been ‘softened up’ enough for our teak. If their Topsider™ boat shoes are old or obviously used, I eliminate them for having invisible rocks and/or sand wedged in the wavy soles.
You’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t—actually, you’re totally damned on my vessel the moment you step aboard!
The whole idea is to get your guests scampering around the deck in bare feet. They are, hence, bound to break a toe or two! (We rent ‘em empty toothpaste tubes to use as toe-splints—but, of course, these medi-thingies are pricey!)
Yes, I watch our guests like a hawk—especially at night. We have one iron-clad electrical rule: one light per person, period. The penalty for having two lights on at the same time is keel-hauling—which is always a fine and swell thing to watch if you are the viewer and not the victim. (We seldom haul out and repaint with anti-fouling because this cuts down on the bleeding, and hence the number of Black Tips circling. Besides, the writhing victim tends to de-barnacle our hull during the ordeal as well—a win-win, by any standard.)
Oh, there are a dozen other Fun With Guests tricks as well. For instance, while zooming along with the dinghy being towed astern, we order a male guest to ‘tilt up the outboard’ to reduce drag. Many can’t even pull the dinghy up far enough to attempt a jump. But a few athletic ones actually manage to hop into our inflatable. And, yes, they drop the dinghy painter as they stroll aft towards the engine. If we’ve timed it perfect, the landlubber is just leaning aft over the outboard when the dinghy painter takes up—and sends ‘em ass-over-tea-kettle into the water.
… water ballet, Fatty-style!
If you’re into elongating a guest’s arm, for instance—just hand ‘em the bitter end of your anchor chain, tell ‘em sternly to “hold on, don’t let go,” and then release the handbrake on your windlass’s gypsy.
No, there’s never a dull moment aboard Ganesh, our Palmer Johnson 43.
If our guests are a particularly amorous couple—every time I hear a halyard slap, I say loudly to my wife, “… disgusting!”
There are other common tricks, too—like replacing the stuff in their sunblock tubes with poison ivy extract, etc.
The idea is to keep ‘em off balance—drops of hot sauce and red pepper extract concealed in the TP roll are just the start.
Sometimes newbies need guidance. One silly lady thought her Transderm Seasick Patches went behind her ear before I curtly informed her they were chewable. (The belladonna in ‘em causes severe visual hallucinations—hard to handle if expected, impossible if not.)
So how do you tell if you’re winning? Being effective? Achieving your goals? Well, if the guest attempts suicide—that’s always a compliment. So is grabbing the VHF radio mic and frantically shouting out GPS coordinates. Ditto, trying to wave down other boaters—with all their appendages in a full body cast.
I think of shipboard guests as cheap, easily-replaced entertainment units. City sickos have to hunt down their vics—we international yachtsmen have a ready supply.
And, if you’re clever, it is even possible to turn a profit. We demand all passports and ID go into a common ‘ditch bag’ in case we have to abandon ship—and then stop at the first island to sell the highly prized documents.
In addition, I’ve found that you can earn far more by returning your guests to shore rather than picking them up. (Isn’t seasickness a wonderfully strong, highly dependable motivator?).
Of course, many a cruising couple started out as cyber-lovers. Advertising on noonsight.com is common: many CREW WANTED ADS read something like: big-breasted sailing life partner wanted—must be able to cry on very little food and almost no fresh water …
Other such ads make a point of mentioning suffering. One honest skipper is in search of a lady to yell at, belittle, and criticize as well as love and cherish forever. Romantic, eh?
Of course, I may be in the minority. Many long-term cruisers have no use for landlubbers. I, personally, think they have their place: on the rail, feeding the fishes.
Editor’s Note: Cap’n Fatty and Carolyn are currently in Southeast Asia, culling unsuspecting lubbers directly from the pool bars of famous island resorts.
Cap’n Fatty Goodlander is the author of Chasing the Horizon and numerous other marine books. His latest, Creative Anchoring, is out now. Visit: fattygoodlander.com