November 8, 2009

Sex on small boats

THIS BEING A FAMILY COLUMN, we do not often talk openly about sex on small boats. Regrettably, this subject is also much neglected by the yachting media in general. It was obviously also neglected by yacht designers in the past. Aboard those narrow-gutted, full-keeled little cruisers there was never room to swing even half a cat, never mind roger a woman. The priority in those days was to make boats efficient at sailing, rather then reproducing the human race. Imagine that.

Nevertheless, to get back to the original point, if we intend to live in a democracy that defends our constitutional right to free speech and plentiful sex, then sex on small boats needs to be discussed with openness, frankness, and dignity. If the kids are offended, just send them off in the dinghy to play on the beach somewhere until we’re through.

It is perhaps not irrelevant to this discussion that the latest revision of Lin and Larry Pardey’s long-running book, The Capable Cruiser, shows Lin topless on the dust-jacket cover. She is perched on the main boom at the mast, pointing to something on the horizon, dressed only in a long wrap-around skirt, the kind known as a Polynesian pareu. I have noticed that Lin is not averse to telling people how much she enjoys sex aboard their small motorless cruiser, Taleisen. (Incidentally, the picture above is not of Lin Pardey but of a young woman in Rimatara, French Polynesia, in 1887. She is wearing a pareu.)

It’s all very well for the Pardeys, of course. They don’t have any kids. How do couples with kids manage on a small boat, I wonder, the kind that doesn’t have a double stateroom aft. You can’t send them off in the dinghy every time you feel the urge.

Traditionally, and in the absence of passion-killing ankle-biters, the V-berth was the passion pit. But most V-berths on small yachts are difficult to get into. You have to back in and fold yourself in half like a pocket knife. By the time you’ve got your limbs sorted out you’ve sprained two sacroiliac tendons, you’re exhausted, and the last thing on your mind is a bit of nookies. When people who live on small boats talk about safe sex, it’s not disease they’re thinking of, it’s broken bones, pulled muscles, and strained backs.

I suppose that if you’ve ever made love in the back of a car, you’ll probably find a V-berth roomy enough. Maybe. I’m not sure. To tell you the truth, I grew up in a country where the back seat of a car had room only for a large grocery bag, so I have never had the pleasure, if it is a pleasure. I now do have a car with a large back seat, but I’m not as flexible as I used to be and my bones are more brittle. I can’t do the athletic contortions that I’m told are necessary. So I guess I’ll never know.

When I was much younger and more flexible I fantasized about sex with those lascivious blonde Swedish girls who (rumor had it) were always cunningly letting themselves be chased through the woods by randy young men waving birch branches. Coincidentally, a male friend with similar dreams bought a 17-foot dinghy in England. It had a small cabin on it. So I met him over there, and we set sail for the woods of Sweden via the English Channel and the continental canals.

But, alas, because of too much non-sexual dallying on the way, it took us three months to get from France to Holland, and the onset of winter drove us back to England, broke and very frustrated. We never did pause to wonder where we would make love if we actually caught one of those lovely Swedish nymphs. There wasn’t room on our boat for the birch branches, never mind the nymphs.

On really small boats you have to do it standing up with your head out of the hatch. In a crowded anchorage, that means you have to assume a look of calm nonchalance while you ostensibly scan the horizon for signs of storm clouds or something. In the interests of maintaining this little deception, you should not scream or roll your eyeballs too far back in your head. Other nearby sailors, the crafty devils, are very quick to notice things like that and make their own deductions.

In these modern times, while the hoi polloi are concentrating on safer sex, small-boat sailors are still searching for better sex. It’s a sad reflection on the state of yacht design. The naval architects have failed us. Maybe WE should go ashore in the dinghy, find some friendly bushes, and strand the kids on the boat while we fumble for the solution.

Today’s Thought
Sex, a great and mysterious motive force in human life, has indisputably been a subject of absorbing interest to mankind through the ages.
— William J. Brennan, Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court, 24 Jun 57

“Sorry lady, bad news. I just ran over one of your roosters in the road out there. I feel real bad about it and I’d like to replace him.”
“Well sure, just as you wish, mister. You’ll find the henhouse next to the barn.”


Laureen said...

Ha! Now I have something new to tell people when they ask why we, who have three children under the age of seven, got a 47' catamaran, instead of something smaller and more practical.

I am *so excited* to find your blog!!! Any chance you'll get an RSS feed on it?

John Vigor said...

Geez Laureen, I already have six followers following me around, and now you wanna be fed, too? I'm sorry to say there's no chance of an RSS feed. All I can say is that the Mainly About Boats (and Sometimes About Sex) column appears on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and any work you have to do to get it is well worth while.

Best wishes,

John V.

Zen said...

Well, I use to live on a 26 ft Ariel, I had many a happy pairings in the v-berth... nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more say no more...