LIKE MOST PEOPLE who have gotten used to traveling slowly in sailboats, I have often been angered by the irresponsibility of powerboaters who drag large, dangerous wakes behind them.
Let me say straight away that this is not a rant against powerboaters per se. There are considerate powerboaters and inconsiderate ones, and while I’m quite sure the former vastly outnumber the latter, the memories of the latter are what stick in my mind.
I’ll never forget something Robert Hale, of Seattle, once wrote. He was the former respected publisher of the annual Waggoner Cruising Guide for the waters of the Pacific Northwest of the USA. In the 2003 edition he wrote:
“Shortly after going from sail to power, I came to understand what I call the First Rule of Powerboating: Never Look Back.
“Because, if we powerboat skippers would look back, we would be appalled at what we do to other boats.”
Coming from a powerboater, that was a very honest and refreshing statement. It actually inspired me to invent a curse for sailors to use when faced with enormous wakes that inconvenience other boats and even threaten to capsize or swamp smaller vessels.
It’s a curse that might help you to vent your fury harmlessly in circumstances where you might otherwise be tempted to reach for your rifle and let Nature take its course. This, in fact, is one of four examples in a chapter devoted to curses in my book How to Rename your Boat — and 19 Other Useful Ceremonies, Superstitions, Prayers, Rituals, and Curses.
This is what I wish for the powerboat wash-hogs, or PAFIs as I call them.*
A CURSE FOR LEAVING A LARGE WAKE
Woe to you, thou beslubbering speedhog!
May your filters choke and your injectors freeze.
May every ill befalling a boat bring you to your knees.
May you run out of whisky, and ice cubes, too.
May there be no more pleasure for you or your crew.
May all your bronze tarnish and your varnish all flake.
May your batteries die and your propellers shake.
May your anchors drag and your bilges overflow.
May you rot in a hell where they make you go slow.
Curse you! Curse you! My curse be upon you wherever you go!
*Power Assisted F...ing Idiots
I sent down to the rum mill on the corner and hired an artist by the week to sit up nights and curse that stranger.
— Mark Twain, A Mysterious Visit
It’s too bad that by the time we get old enough not to care what anybody says about us, nobody’s saying anything about us.