March 3, 2011

No jokes please, we’re yachtsmen

A JOURNALIST FRIEND of mine wants to know if yachtsmen are losing their sense of humor. He has been reading a bulletin board populated mainly by sailboat sailors on the east side of the country. What prompted him to ask the question was a headline on one thread that said: What color is your bottom?

Now for those of us who used to be in the humor business, this is manna from heaven. All sorts of replies spring to mind ranging from risqué to raunchy and back again. But nothing of the sort occurred to our eastern sailor friends. The serious, deadpan replies flooded in:

"Red bottom with a green boot top" ... "Red with the maximum amount of copper" ... "Black — but someone said it might attract trouble from the orcas" ..."Brown, but it’s becoming hard to find" ... "Mix a little black with red to get brown."

And so on. Good Puritan stuff. Not the slightest whiff of anything off-color and not the slightest suggestion of impish wit or clever riposte, either, although one responder was moved to point out: “If the boat’s in the water, what difference does it make?”

And then, when this serious discussion was almost finished one lone wag did pitch up at last. A fellow named Carl Thunberg said:

“It's kinda personal, but I guess we're all friends here. If you must know, the color of my bottom changes with the weather. When it's cold, my bottom is red. When it's really cold my bottom is blue. When I get out of the shower, it's pink. Too much information, you say? Well, you asked . . .

“Oh God, please let spring come!”

Sad to say, nobody followed his lead. He was ignored. Maybe they were all too shocked. Or maybe they were wondering why his bottom is red when it’s cold, when everybody else’s is white, except, of course, for those with naturally non-white bottom skins.

Nobody mentioned teenage spotty botties, or even the blackbottom. Yes, I know it was a dance, but you could work it into a bit of humor somehow if you tried hard enough. So it was rather disappointing to those of us who always associated sailors with rough language, strong drink, tough broads, and bawdy humor. I guess yachting has indeed gotten to be a serious subject.

Today’s Thought
A sense of humour keen enough to show a man his own absurdities will keep him from the commission of all sins, or nearly all, save those that are worth committing.
— Samuel Butler the Younger, Life and Habit.

Anybody listening?
SOS ... MAYDAY ... If there’s any other form of life out there in the cosmos I’d like you to know I’m stuck on a little blue-and-white planet circling a dying sun in the Milky Way. Hurtling through space, breakneck speed, not knowing where came from or going to. People very fighty, no agreement on anything, weather severe and apparently getting both hotter and colder, jungles and oceans full of creatures that will eat you, and cities full of creatures that will tax you or arrest you just for playing with your willy in public ... Help!

Boaters’ Rules of Thumb, #167
How much do lines stretch? Here are the old rules of thumb for lines loaded to 30 percent of their breaking strength:
Nylon stretches 10 to 15 percent.
Polyester (Dacron, Terylene, etc.) 3.5 to 5 percent.
Wire rope (stainless steel 7 x 19) 1 to 2 percent.
Kevlar and Spectra 1 to 2 percent.

“I didn’t see you at Mary’s wedding.”
“No, I couldn’t make it. Tell me, who gave the bride away?”
“I could have, but I kept my mouth shut.”

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


s/v Windward said...

How anyone could pass up a lead-in like that is beyond me. I hope never to get so involved in life's pursuits and situations that I fail to see the humor in them.

My daughter is on the rowing team at her college. The kid likes boats. Go figure. Rowers, like sailors, become somewhat fixated on their sport. When I first met some of her rowing friends, a ritual that generally involves buying them food, they began an animated conversation that included discussion of the roles of each rower in the eight person shell. Finally I had to speak up and mention that most parents might be concerned if their daughters talked about "stroking" and "cox" in the same sentence. Initial silence, a few blank looks, one look that reeked of "how juvenile," a rather embarrassed daughter -- one of the many services I am obligated to provide as a parent -- and one relieved laugh from someone who admitted he'd always thought that was funny and couldn't believe no one had said it in the time he'd been rowing. I like him.

Lezlie's World said...

If that same question was posted in the groups that I read, many would post an answer, but you would probably never find out the color of their BOAT. They are sailors, in every sense of the word. :-)

Emily said...

For better or for worse, British sailors seem to have maintained a sense of humor: