The Big Chill

“I will not whistle on the boat.”
“I will not whistle on the boat.”
“I will not whistle on the boat.”
…to be written in the logbook 100 times.

We sailors are a superstitious lot. To appease Neptune, we pour perfectly good alcohol overboard each time we have a drink in the cockpit. We perform complicated de-naming ceremonies to make sure he isn’t confused when we rename a boat. We seek a virgin to pee in the bilge when it’s time to christen a boat, and hope that the child we select doesn’t get the wrong idea about peeing all over our boat the rest of the time. We fret about whether to break a bottle of champagne over our precious bows or just pour it instead. And whether the cheap stuff we drink is good enough for the sea gods, or if we should buy something nicer than usual.

So when Kris caught me whistling on board, he raised his eyebrows. I stopped. It’s called “whistling up the wind,” and it’s another one of those superstitions.

Evidently, I did not stop soon enough. In the Edisto River yesterday, between Charleston and Beaufort, South Carolina, I saw 33 knots of wind on the wind instrument. Today, the temperature has not been above 36 F. There’s icy slush on the deck.

I am sorry. I am very, very sorry. I promise I won’t whistle any more.

But that’s not my only bad habit. Our first day on the water was just as cold as today. While I was at the helm, I put Shakira on the stereo — hot salsa music. Standing in front of the new cockpit speakers, I was dancing back and forth behind the wheel, stamping my feet and doing belly dance shimmies to stay warm. Suddenly, there was a sharp “crack!” The teak grate beneath my feet, beautiful original equipment, had developed a severe crack.

The guys came out and looked at it, shaking their heads. They effected some temporary repairs, and Barry marked them with a Sharpie: “No Dancing Zone.”

“I will not dance on the boat.”
“I will not dance on the boat.”
“I will not dance on the boat.”
…to be written in the logbook 100 times.

I doubt my behavior has brought the wrath of Aeolus upon us, but I can’t be sure. I will try to behave with proper decorum here in Beaufort, South Carolina. I fear that if I don’t, my mother will turn over in her grave — yet another superstition! And since her final resting place is about a half mile from the marina, near the house where they filmed “The Big Chill,” I’m not going to take a chance.

Just to be on the safe side, I’ll ask for an official blessing from Saint Mom. She never got to see me at the helm of an ocean-going sailboat, but I know she’s watching out for me, somewhere. Along with Aeolus and Neptune and Yemenja, and the whole pantheon who take care of belly-dancing, accordion-playing whistlers on sailboats.

3 thoughts on “The Big Chill

  1. I am so pleased to hear you are on the water heading south. I think you have a ways to go before you get warm for sure. We are sending down that COLD North WIND.We are shovelling snow and dreaming of our relaunch in April. But then we will be going home which is North.

  2. You just keep dancing, singing and whistling!!! And eat a few bananas too! Those silly superstitions were made by the same silly people that thought women on boats were bad luck too and we know that isn’t true! (-: Trust in the Goddess, pre-old-school baby! Next time you pour perfectly good alchohol overboard, forget Neptune and offer it to Thalassa & Yemenja! Goddesses of the Oceans!

    Anyways you and proper decorum? ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Limerick:
    On the Atlantic there’s a gal called Meps
    who dances on sailboat’s teak decks
    she whistles and shimmies
    plays accordian whimsies
    and deviates decorous shipwrecks.

Leave a Reply