Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I don’t know about you, but I love the dude. Don’t get me wrong. In High School I didn’t understand a word he said.

My failure to “understand” occured three times in the ensuing years. Once in college reading “Ulysses” by James Joyce. Slightly earlier reading “Beowulf”. Later, in a Sailing 101 with my first love, Bill.

Bill and I were provided with the reading materials,in order to learn how to sail, from the Newport Yacht Club. It was mandatory that you read them. We were intent on learning how to sail. We were alike in our thinking, “I don’t need to read this.” We will learn by doing.

On our second class on our 40 foot sailboat, it happened.

I removed the floatation thingees, Bill steered us out of the slip. We managed to get into the harbor. There are so many yachts on the harbor on a Saturday afternoon. I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking, where are the cucumber sandwiches?

Bill and I lived on the water on Lido Isle. We’d watched a million boats pass by our living room thinking, “how difficult can it be?” In a similar act of hubris, Bill once called the coach of the Angels to advise him that he would be a better coach. I received the return call. Bill wasn't home. The coach and I remained on the phone for over an hour as I parroted what Bill had said to me a million times. I had no idea what I was saying. The coach almost raised his voice and suggested after 90 minutes, “why don’t YOU come down here and apply for my job right now?” Anyway…

In the harbor, I took the helm. Nice big steering wheel. Nothing to it. The instructor asked me to do something with a “wench” and a “leed” referring to some “jib” thing. I wanted to scream, “Speak English”. I did as instructed . The “leed” slipped out of my hand. (It’s the rope that holds the Jib which is the big sail that stretches out in front of the boat.) The “jib” was flapping in the wind making the sailboat rock.

Suddenly I heard a plunk. It was the “Boom Vang” coming unleashed from the “Mast”. It secures the main sail to the mast. It’s major. Without it the mast (big piece of wood) swooped like crazy from left to right with enough force to knock anyone overboard who attempted to sneak past.

At this point, I was holding onto the helm for dear life.

At that moment, I remembered an item mentioned in the instruction manual. Surely it was on first page because that’s all I read. It said, smaller vessels give larger vessels the right of way. (Larger boats have less maneuverability. ) That’s when I heard a frightening, deafeningly loud, droning HOOOOONK. I looked behind me. It was an ENORMOUS yacht towering over us. My first instinct was to wave. But there was going to be a collision. Remarkably, I heard another sound. Ka chink, Ka chink, Ka chink. The anchor slipped overboard because of the rocking from side to side. We were all going to die.

The moral of the story is; even when you deserve to die, you won’t if you surround yourself with the smart people. Choose wisely. The other moral is that even if you don’t understand something, you will if you keep trying. So don’t give up.


JIMSIGHT said...

I will never forget the first time I heard the term Jibe, Captain Vic Dyer screaming in my face as he spun the wheel, I froze, in an instant the boom was swinging towards my skull, wham, in an instant I had officially become a unicorn. I never ignored Captain Vic again, I could tie a bowline, square not, sheepshank ad sheepbend by sundown the next day. Became an excellent mate on that 42 foot schooner. Sailing between St. Johns and Halifax.

I even learned to play the squeezebox a little and wore a Canadian Navy Beret, I was by all accounts the most dashing American teenager in all of Mahone Bay that summer, I wanted it to never end.

and oh yeah, you already know how I feel about Willy.

Mike said...

You wouldn't die. You're adding to much humor to life. Also what's that old adage, "God looks out for fools." Happy to hear you're still alive unless this is your ghost blogging which may even be cooler.

Briana said...

Given my land-locked location, the only JIB I've heard of is in the oil and gas industry - Joint Interest Billing. I'd explain it but I'm pretty sure it's not interesting. And what did this have to do with Shakespeare? I thought you were going to describe your recitation of the "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore are thou?..." monologue from the 5th floor balcony of the Hilton Harvest House in Boulder, much to the surprise of the hundred or so happy hour-goers below. (I'm sure you recall that I was feeding you the lines!) And for my encore, I will recite the "To be or not to be" speech. I love Shakespeare, too.

Charmaine said...


OMG I forgot about that. I was so bold!

I was on a balcony with a million men below and that place was the biggest pick up joint in town. My brand of flirting well...did not yield the desired results. Of course you fed me the lines. Then you taught me "To be or not to be". YOU introduced me to Shakespeare!!!

Slyde said...

man, now you are making me think about ulysses and beowulf. 2 of my favorite books that i was forced to read back in the day.

i should pick those up again....

you know, theres a "sequel" of sorts to beowulf, called "grendel", told from the monsters point of view.. i remember that was pretty good too

Charmaine said...

OMG I remember Grendel.

At the time I could not wrap my mind around these books. My father had just died, I was in college and to be frank, I couldn't wrap my mind around anything. Nothing made sense.

I did see the film Beowolf. Then it all came back to me. (I'm a simpleton)

Michelle J said...

Hi Charmaine, am i crazy or did i read a post here about Israel and almost getting arrested and your love and panty hose and first class travel??? Or was i dreaming??

What up??


Charmaine said...

Yes you did but I re-wrote it. The revision didn't save. I attempted to backspace to see if I could recapture it, but couldn't. I need to re-write it. It was the best nightmare of a trip, ever.

P.O.M. said...

I'm gonna tell the Captain that you think his job is easy. ha ha

So, the attorney finally called. Wants to meet up for drinks. But I'm afraid to go alone. I am gonna try to get him to bring some friends and you have to go with me. Not sure when. Next week is really busy. But we will figure something out. I need your charming wit to get me thru.

P.O.M. said...

PS I heard that Isreal story. It's awesome. You have to re-write it!

P.O.M. said...

PSS: Vegas with Spicy Latina is sure to result in some fun stories. You know how SHE rolls!

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