‘Boat Talk’ With Clevis and Pinhead, the Shackle Brothers.

As a devoted fan of “Car Talk,” the much-loved call-in radio show, I could never understand why there were never similar format shows on other subjects. Why not “Wife Talk,” or “Husband Talk,” or “Parents of Teenager Talk?” Why not “Boat Talk?”

Well, you are about to embark on the first installment of “Boat Talk,” hosted by The Shackle Brothers. This is a somewhat radical departure from my normal column after all these years, and I have no idea if it will be approved* by either the Points East editor or – way up the corporate ladder – by the publisher-in-chief. So here’s my plan: I’m just not going to ask anybody.

Granted, this may be hard to slip by the editor [it wasn’t, Dave]; but you never know, he may be out sailing as this comes in [he was, Dave], so it may slide right by to the Head of Layout, who has been known to mess with me over the years. But I also know this guy can be bought [not inexpensively, though].

I also want to say that my brother Clevis and I retain full rights© to this concept. So here we go. We welcome your questions for future “Boat Talk” columns. Here’s our first call-in:

Delores Shakey
Ashbury Park, N.J.

Hello Clevis and Pinhead,

My husband Leonard wants to sail around the world. He’s shown me so many pictures of these palm-tree-ringed white-sand beaches in the South Pacific that it does seem appealing, especially from our three-floor walkup in Ashbury Park.

There are a few issues, however, including limited sailing experience. Can we learn? From a sailing school? From a book? Are there storms likely to arrive along the way? Also, regarding our boat: It’s a Dreamaway 37 that Leonard bought for only $10,000. It has three sails, five beds, a stove, a refrigerator, and even a big anchor. So I think we’re all set, except for one question: Leonard says my hair dryer won’t work with the low amount of electricity on the Dreamaway. How will I dry my hair after those lovely South Pacific lagoon swims?

Pinhead: I’ll try to address each of these issues, Delores, starting with the least important one: your “lack of sailing experience.” I think I know the answer about how limited it is, which is the one we usually get, and that is this: “We sailed a Sunfish once, and we didn’t tip over or anything.” That’s a good start. You should be fine.

Clevis: Ha! Fine, as long as you stay at the dock, Delores. And, trust me, the Dreamaways do well at the dock, and sometimes, in a gentle breeze, they’ll even sail downwind.

Pinhead: Though even a block of wood will sail downwind.

Delores: So the Dreamaway won’t go that fast? It’s important that it go fast, as I really don’t want to be out of sight of land for that long before we get to Tahiti or one of those Paradise places.

Clevis: The only direction in which the Dreamaway will go fast will be DOWN. You see, Delores, the Dreamaway was aptly named because it should only be a place where you sit and dream. And that’s at the dock.

By the way, before you ever actually do anything as insane as head for the open ocean and South Seas, ask yourselves these questions: 1. Why did a $100,000 Dreamaway sell for $10,000? 2. Have you checked the turnbuckle on the starboard lower shroud?

Delores: What and where is the starboard lower shroud, so I can check?

Clevis: You’ve already answered that question, Delores. Don’t go.

Pinhead: Or before you go, try sitting alone in one small room for three or four days wearing the same damp clothes while the room pitches around as if it’s an earthquake.

Clevis: And have you heard about those nasty South Pacific tsetse flies? They feed on the blood of vertebrate animals, including humans, and, in doing so, transmit the sleeping-sickness parasite from infected animals to uninfected ones?

Pinhead: Oh, and when you swim to those white-sand beaches in Paradise, watch out for sharks. They’re everywhere. And if you do make it ashore, and then sit there amongst those swaying palm trees on that infinite stretch of sand, you may, after a few days of that, get REALLY bored. Paradise can be really boring.

Delores: OK, but what about the hair dryer? You never answered the question about that.

Clevis: Don’t worry. It’ll work fine at the dock.

Pinhead (laughing hysterically): Which is where you should stay, Delores.

Clevis: Or get another sunfish. Thanks for the call.

Well, folks, you’ve wasted another 10 minutes of your life reading this, when you could have been boating. Stay tuned next month, when we hear from a fellow whose boat has four 300-horsepower outboards; he has a question about fuel consumption and how to keep his cigar lit on his way to Nantucket. We’ll also hear from a consumer who wonders why those $9.99 lifejackets are called the “Mother-in-Law Brand.”

Until next time, we’re the Shackle Brothers, and we look forward to your questions for the next issue. And remember, if you’re headed south, just keep the land on your right.

You’ll be fine.

*This column has been cleared by our chief editorial Far East troubleshooter and advisor, Gybe Ho. And by our U.S. weather-safety advisor, Lee Shore. And by our sail trim expert, Rollin Ferl.


Dave Roper’s new novel, “Rounding the Bend: The Life and Times of Big Red,” was released in mid-June and is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

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