I’ve seen a few things at sea that really bug me

May, 2002

By Dodge Morgan

I can get really irked at some things I observe when I’m on the water. The number and frequency of these irritants seem to have increased over the years, perhaps because I was doing many of them myself early in my sailing career and therefore was not able to recognize them, or perhaps because of the natural, direct relationship between age and the curmudgeon factor. It is a toss-up whether I groan or laugh. Here’s a partial list.

• It bugs me when I see huge turnbuckles hiding behind deadeyes and lanyards on one of those dude schooners. Look, guys, you really can’t fake tradition and when you try to fake it you make a mockery of it.

• I don’t like yacht ensigns. Please note that the American flag has more stars and no anchor.

• I am always puzzled by boats with sails raised only upon leaving or approaching harbor. You see the same boats under bare pole and engine power off shore.

• I get really pissed off with helmsmen who can’t shut up. Yelling is particularly galling. Anyone who needs to express authority on a boat with lungpower should take up sidewalk preaching.

• Those “I’d Rather be Sailing” bumper stickers on cars strike me as a dumb joke. Do these people paste “My Other Car is a Rolls” stickers on their boat transoms?

• I am chagrined by people past the age of puberty who wear full foul weather gear, PFDs, life harnesses and body-worn EPIRBs at the club bar.

• I don’t like yacht clubs much anyway, even if some of the people you find in them are wonderful.

• Seeing big dogs on deck makes me shudder. I don’t feel sorry for the people who have to wash down the dog shit. I simply feel really sorry for the animal.

• A woman on a sailboat should not have an elaborate hairdo.

• Loud music and cell phones do not belong on deck while under way. They both get in the way of the sailing act, and sailing is something best done by itself.

• No power boat larger than 18 feet should be allowed to travel at more than 8 knots. Jetskis are excepted from the length rule – every one of those damned contraptions should be banned or configured to go only in reverse.

• I really hate fashion-sensitive nautical clothing on a man, a woman or a child, unless, of course, you’re in the Coast Guard or U.S. Navy and ashore. I especially find pink and black deck sneakers with fluorescent purple laces to be obnoxious. Nautical jewelry should only adorn females and come from Tony Correa’s catalog (sad one can’t rent the stuff).

• When I see a guy with the helm in one hand and a beer can in the other I feel the urge to aim a flare gun at him, close range.

• It is ridiculous to hear “starboard tack” screamed out when there are only two boats 10 miles offshore and no race.

• Searchlights and bullhorns must be categorically banned.

• Sailcloth dyed blue or green for symbolic reasons should be eliminated. Elaborate artwork plastered all over topsides ought to go too.

• Outboard engines are nothing more than a necessary evil. The world would be a safer place if the only make available was Seagull.

But what really disturbs me is that potatoes don’t float. (Ha! Will have to give you that story some other time!)

Dodge Morgan lives on Snow Island in Harpswell, Maine.