September 21, 2010

Is kissing safe at sea?

Cleopatra's "barge." After Mark Anthony kissed this topless temptress,  he died. Eventually. So did she. There is surely a lesson here for all sailors.

CAN YOU KISS YOUR CREW and effectively remain in full command of your vessel?

I ask because it is important for the safety of the boat and crew that there should be only one captain on a boat; one person to praise for every successful voyage and one person to blame for every dreadful disaster, no matter who among the crew was actually responsible. That is the way it is and that is the way it has always been.

It is equally important that the crew should spring into action and execute the captain’s commands promptly and without question. There must therefore be a divide between captain and crew. An emotional gap. A wide crevasse in the, um, glacier of intimacy.

But what is a kiss if it isn’t the absolute epitome of intimacy?

For reasons not readily apparent to most of us, the very thin skin covering the lips is furnished with many millions of nerve endings, making the edges of the mouth vastly more sensitive and receptive to the sense of touch than almost any other part of the body.

Now, when you kiss someone — that is, when you place your lips against those of another person, and then press and squirm them according to the widely accepted practice of osculation — you excite those nerve endings. Your heart takes notice, wonders what’s going on, and begins to beat faster, leading to feelings of love, tenderness, and intimacy quite inimical to your position as captain.

In short, if you kiss your crew, you have lost control. There is no hope for you. For example, you may recall Cleopatra, reclining in luxurious splendor, floating down the Nile in her barge with her superstructure provocatively unrigged. Mark Anthony, watching her pass by, was reduced to such a trembling state of passion and desire that he was never able to control himself (or her) thereafter and they both committed suicide. I leave you to draw your own conclusions about that, but I might observe here that undesirable situations like this often start with an innocent little kiss. Crews who have been kissed by captains seem to imagine they have suddenly acquired certain rights of equality, and can now take part in decisions affecting the command of the boat. They think they can argue back, or fall into deep sulks, instead of fending off the dock, or unblocking the clogged head, as ordered.

Therefore I urge you, as captain, to refrain from kissing aboard. You should explain to your wife, paramour, or substitute Cleopatra that it is nothing personal. It is all about the safety of the ship and the crew.

Lives — including hers — may depend on not kissing.

Today’s Thought
Kissing ... in the old days was very beautiful. Actually the two people doing it were barely touching sometimes, in order not to push her face out of shape. You were doing it for the audience to see what in their minds they always think a kiss is. Now you see a couple of people start chewing on each other.
— Ronald Reagan

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #96
Sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep combined with fatigue often causes hallucinations among ocean voyagers. One study showed that 50 percent of the competitors in a singlehanded race across the North Atlantic experienced one or more illusions or hallucinations. The rule of thumb is not to be unduly frightened by hallucinations. They will not permanently harm your brain. They will disappear as soon as you get some decent sleep.

The enraged personal assistant called her boss’s wife.
“Your husband tries to hold me and kiss me,” she complained.
“Oh sure, honey,” said the wife, “he was like that with me when we first got married. But don’t worry, he soon gets over it.”

(Drop by Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Nikolay said...

Hey John,

I've been wondering...
for the mainsheet of a 12.5' skiff, and in general; is there an advantage, if any, to using fiddle blocks instead of double blocks?


Ken said...

I kissed the captain once on a North Atlantic passage, but she was answering to the owner and his wife, who were also on board.
It can, get very complicated out there.

John Vigor said...

Nikolay, now what made you think about fiddle blocks when you were reading a column on kissing? Is it something to do with fiddling with the crew?
No matter, to answer your question, I don't think there's any difference between double blcoks and fiddle blocks, except in looks. I think fiddle blocks look neater, but the purchase is the same. Just be sure the smaller block in the fiddle is of sufficient diameter for your sheet.


John V.