December 20, 2015

Here's what to give a sailor

A few years ago some of my landlubber acquaintances asked me what they should give for Christmas to their friends who own boats. I responded with a column of advice. I’m not sure that it did any good, but I’m thinking there’s no harm in repeating it now. So here goes: 

TINKLE-TINKLE, TINKLE-TINKLE. The man with the kettle is reminding us to give, and give generously. This week there will be sailors all over the world who are receiving Christmas gifts from non-sailors. And it is to the non-sailors that this column is directed.

All right . . .  listen up now, you lot. What are the traditional gifts a non-sailor like you gives a sailor? I’ll tell you: a couple of battens for the mainsail. A stainless shackle or two for the bosun’s bag. A woolly watch cap for cold weather . . . let’s face it folks, I’m sorry, but this is not generous giving. The sailor in your life deserves better.

Now, heavens above, before you protest, let it not be thought that I am a purveyor of ingratitude. I believe as much as the next man that it is more blessed to give than to receive. I, too, believe it’s the thought that counts. I also believe that you should give according to your means and I am an ardent admirer of fiscal responsibility, thrift, frugality, prudence, parsimony and similar human traits that Mr. Roget reminds me of in his thoughtful Thesaurus.

On the other hand, the problem facing us today is that your average sailor does not want a silly hat or another mainsail batten to add to the pile of spares already cluttering the cockpit locker. What he really wants is a couple of gallons of anti-fouling paint at $150 a gallon. Or a 35-pound CQR anchor for $600. Or a new color GPS chartplotter for $800. Or a jib furling system for $2,000. Or a new diesel engine.

Yeah, wow, a new engine. That would please him no end. That would make a really good Christmas present. Ten thousand ought to do it. Fifteen, maybe if they have to build new engine beds as well. It sounds like a lot but it’s not really, honestly it’s not, when you consider the huge amount of joy it will bring. A really huge amount of joy. Honest.

It’s not too late to correct your Christmas mistakes. If you haven’t been generous before, you can be generous now. Tinkle-tinkle. Do your bit to make a sailor happy. Truly happy. Tinkle-tinkle. Give till it hurts. Tinkle-tinkle. I mean, really hurts. Tinkle-tinkle. On behalf of sailors everywhere, I thank you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. 

Today’s Thought
Money-giving is a very good criterion . . . of a person’s mental health. Generous people are rarely mentally ill people.
— Dr. Karl A. Menninger
“What’s that you’re burying?”
“Oh, just one of my chickens.”
“Chicken be darned. That looks like my dog.”
“Yeah, right, the chicken’s inside.”

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

1 comment:

Alden Smith said...

Personally I don't mind a bottle of rum to keep on the boat but the situation I am in at the moment I would just LOVE a new diesel engine!