April 7, 2009

The Macaroni and other rigs

A LETTER FROM Baggy Wrinkle, currently finishing up a term as the guest of the federal government, says:

Dear John: When I get out of here in a couple of months I’d like to get a boat and cross a couple of oceans. I don’t know anything about cruising yachts, but sailing can’t be half as difficult as selling third-generation bundled derivatives, which is what landed me here. Maybe you could save me some time and trouble by listing the various sailboat rigs available right now.

Okay, Baggy, here’s what you’re likely to come across when you’re shopping for a boat.

► The bark (barque). The bark is a large ship. You don’t want a bark, Baggy, because it’s too big. Not only that, but it’s also worse than its bite.
► The gaffe rig. You don’t want this, either. With its stumpy mast and four-sided mainsail, the gaffe has proved to be an embarrassing mistake.
► The sliding grunter. This is used mainly on fishing boats. It’s not for you.
► The y’all rig is still very popular in the Deep South, but out of fashion most everywhere else.
► The ketchup rig is similar to the y’all but with different mast placement and much saucier.
► The schooner rig was invented after someone had too many schooners of ale and got the masts of a ketchup back-to-front. It’s fine if you swear off the booze.
► The Macaroni rig is probably the best one for you, Baggy. It was invented by Dr. Macaroni, an Italian who sold tall radio masts in Bermuda, hence its other name, Bermuda rig. You can always tell the Macaroni rig because all the lines are led aft to the cockpit, where they turn into spaghetti.

There are many other rigs, such as the lateen, the standing lug, the double-dipping lug, and the Chinese junket, all of which are foreign imports of dubious quality and therefore not worthy of your attention.

Good luck with your search, Baggy, and drop me one of those rude postcards from Tahiti, willya?

Today’s Thought
A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.

—Pope, Essay on Criticism.

“Waiter, what’s this plate of corn for?”
“Wasn’t it you who ordered the chicken dinner, sir?”

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