Punch lines one might be able to live by

October 2010

By Dodge Morgan

Throughout life one does collect some one-line statements worth remembering – and actually remember a few of them. I like to say my memory is good but short, which means my recallable one-liners are from quite a way back in time. Here are just a few:

My grandfather John “Cap” Dodge was a treasure trove of pungent maxims. Here’s a handful of them:

“Whiskey drinking is a man’s duty; getting drunk is his damnation.”

“My father taught me how to work, not to like it.”

“All you got to know about money is, should you have ten bucks and what you want costs nine, you are wealthy. If what you want costs eleven, you are broke.”

“The four most beautiful things in the world are a ship under sail, a full bottle of rum, a woman’s body, and a field of wheat.”

My brother Russ Morgan had a tool- and paintbrush-related bias for action that was startling and caused him to often remark, “A man on a galloping horse will never see the difference.”

The magnificent naval architect Murray Peterson, known especially for his classic schooners, said, “I do want an able boat and a quick boat, but most of all I want a boat that gives me a joy rowing up to.”

F. E. “Ted” Hood never wastes words – actually seldom even uses them – and is normally as loquacious as a bar of lead ballast. So his answer to the question, “How do I use this centerboard?” from a new owner of one of his gorgeous Little Harbor yachts, was simply, “Drop it down when the boat heels.”

Paul Walter, who was captain for Tom Watson on several of his Palawan yachts, once advised me, “Never sail higher on the wind in degrees than one’s age plus ten.” Puts me on a beam reach.

The summer drunk and the native drunk were roaring straight on to the dock in their open boat powered by a single-cylinder, make-or-break engine, which required shorting out the ignition with a loose wire for shutdown. Summer drunk at the helm could not locate the wire and commanded native drunk to heave over the anchor, which, it was then noted, “has no string on it.” Answer was, “Throw her over anyway; slow our headway some.” This line can be independently applied to many group discussions.

One day in Alaska, we invited an Eskimo to fly to his home with us because it was the same place we were headed for some moose hunting and we felt the need for some local knowledge to find it. Once airborne, frequent questioning for some directions from our passenger got just one repeated answer: “Over the next hump maybe.” And then we realized the fellow was having his first airplane ride and recognized nothing from our 3,000-foot altitude. I have since been in many meetings that caused me to blurt out, “Over the hump maybe.”

Years ago, I anchored my old schooner Eagle nearby a Concordia yawl in a Maine cove and was invited over to join her crew of three old guys for a drink. Eagle was warmly admired for her beauty and I was asked how much I sailed her. “Sadly not that much because I just do not have the time.” The poetic punch line I then got was, “You know you do have just as much time as the rest of us.”