October 1, 2015

Design flaw in small boats

I HAVE TO ADMIT that in this column we don’t often talk about sex in small boats. Regrettably, the 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 than reproducing the human race. Go figure.

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, dignity, and as few blushes as I can manage. If the kids are offended (as they should be if you brought them up properly) 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 to note that 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.

It was 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 those lascivious blonde Swedish girls who (rumor had it) were always cunningly letting themselves be chased through the woods by 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 did catch a couple 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 may 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 think about 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.”


Mike K said...

Upon reading this, I recall Mr. 57 degrees a few weeks ago asserting his ability to go at it all afternoon. The image that now comes (if you'll pardon the expression) to mind was of a head (or two) poking (if you'll excuse my appalling innuendos)out of the hatch in a small boat for 4 or 5 hours at a time. Chortle. Back in the days PC (that's Pre - Children) I had a light displacement 1/4 tonner with a 10 foot beam, kind of a skimming dish that had two huge quarter berths - double width that is, but alas with only about 16 inches to the deck above due to lowish freeboard. This made nookies rather awkward, though I recall taking another couple away on a passage race who seemed to manage Ok if the noises in the wee small hours were any indication. A few years ago I had a 20 foot trailer yacht with the ubiquitous V berth. This was only ever used by the kids due to, as you state, a lack of privacy and the fact that someone always needed the blasted toilet stuck underneath aforementioned berth. My wife decided she would prefer a TY with a separate toilet, cunningly I swapped the 20'TY for a 25' TY that not only has a separate loo but a lovely big V double. Then I went and blew a disk in my back. Haven't even used the boat far less the berth. Sigh.

Eric said...

Oh, this should be fun.
Sometime around the beginning of time, some dude decided that there may be something on the other side of that body of water that was too far for him to swim across, so he subsequently invented what we today call a boat, which he used to cross over said body of water.
That something on the other side, that he didn't even know existed, turned out to be a woman. SUPRISE! How more exotic could it be than that?
The women of this newly discovered place thought, Who cares if you are stinky, ugly, rude and the wrong color? You aren't my brothers cousin, and you have a boat!
Take me away from this place!
Now back to the boat builder/sailor.
Since the beginning of ocean traveling, sailors have had "girls at every port", it's just the way it has always been. This is not an old wives' tale, it is fact.
So back to your question of sex on a boat, small, or large.
Oh crap, you are not a traditional sailor, you are an anchored seafarer. Traditional sailors have women at every port, anchored seafarers, well, are anchored to not land, but the woman that holds his chain.
Sorry, I didn't mean to cut you with my words, or maybe I did.
I guess the point is, who cares what the kids of this particular port female hears when I'm bonking their mom, I'll likely toss them off the deck when we are out of sight of land anyway, and maybe her too. I can always find another female at the next port of call.

Alden Smith said...

There is an interesting interview with Lin Pardey on Utube where she says she tackled Susan Hiscock (interesting surname in this context) about whether she (Susan) and Eric slept together. Apparently the reply was that "When we get any urges, we make for the open ocean and (apparently) make out on the cabin floor. Sensible answer the cabin floor, I thought - saves space on an unusable ocean going double bed.