OLD WOTSISNAME with the concrete boat had a question for me the other day.
“I notice you always refer to your dinghy oars as bridesmaids,” he said.
I had to plead guilty. “It’s just habit,” I said. “Don’t even know I’m doing it.”
“But why bridesmaids?” he insisted.
So I had to tell him the rather silly reason. When I was 14 I was the cabin boy aboard the Makoti, a twin-screw sportfisher that was based in Simonstown, south of Cape Town, for the summer.
Makoti’s dinghy was pulled up on the beach just in front of where I lived, and I used to row Makoti’s owner and guests out to the boat moored in the bay. The owner was Harry Pegram, a wine farmer from Constantia, and the very first time I mentioned oars he said, “No, no, not oars — bridesmaids.” And he roared with laughter.
Then he told the story of the Cockney mother and her little daughter who were out walking in London when they came across a wedding. The bridegroom was secretary of a posh Thames rowing club, and the members had formed with their oars a long ceremonial arch, through which the bride and her retinue of attendants were walking.
The excited little girl said to her mother: “Cor, Mum, look at all them oars.”
“Hush, luvvy,” said her mother quickly, “them’s not ’ores, them’s bridesmaids.”
That’s why my oars have been bridesmaids ever since.
You can be a little ungrammatical if you come from the right part of the country.
— Robert Frost
Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #54
Size of dinghy. The rule for hard dinghies is that 7 feet overall is generally reckoned to be the smallest-sized hard dinghy that can be used as a yacht’s tender for two people.
“Dad, I need a car.”
“What? You think cars grow on trees?”
“No, no, Dad. Everyone knows they come from automobile plants.”