Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yacht To Know Better

C'est un grand lac!

I can imagine Samuel de Champlain's men venturing up the St.John River in 1604, looking for the legendary Monsieur Horton's and instead discovering the largest lake in New Brunswick. They christened the river 'Saint Jean', as it was discovered on the feast day of John (Jean) the Baptist, June 24. I don't actually know if Champlain's men made it as far as Grand Lake, perhaps not, but I do know that they had a habit of naming places after first impressions.

Champlain named Mount Desert Island, in Maine, 'Isle des Monts Deserts' which, when translated, comes out as island of the bare mountains. Aptly named as the bare granite hills of Acadia National Park are a defining feature.

I'm not sure if Champlain discovered Dildo, Newfoundland. I sure hope not. On an all male ship, it's a subject I'd rather not touch.

Christopher Columbus set the stage much earlier by arbitrarily naming places. St.Bart's, in the Caribbean, was named in honour of his brother Barthélemy.

Thanks let's invite the French, declare the beaches topless and bring some civility to this savage island.

Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, is Spanish for 'fat virgin' because the island reminded Columbus of a fat virgin lying down. You have to understand that these sailors were out to sea for long periods of time, and there weren't a lot of women around, if any.

Captain Bligh had an all male crew that had just enjoyed some quality time with the local honeys of Tahiti. It's rumoured that many of the crew preferred the Tahitian lifestyle over the endless slogging with Captain Willie Bligh. Leaving the ladies behind was tough enough, but when Bligh substituted 10% cereal cream for their contractual 18% coffee cream in their morning cup of Tim's, well, the crew just lost it. These mutineers may have been the world's first leisurologists, giving up their day jobs (sailing) for the hedonistic pleasures of the South Pacific.

It wasn't customary to carry ladies on these early exploratory voyages. Men and women don't always 'get along' when placed together on a sailing vessel. Don't be fooled by your own experiences on a cruise ship, or from watching Love Boat reruns...that's not sailing. A cruise ship or large passenger carrying ferry is no more sailing than a Shriner in a go-cart is Nascar, though there have been a few exceptions when the Love Boat got rocked.

Many a marriage has been lost at sea.

In the tranquil image that I've included today, you'll see a number of sailboats that have rafted together. Undoubtedly the happy families have sailed up to Grand Lake from Saint John, as they do every summer. Men, women, kids, dogs and perhaps even a parrot or two make the sixty mile long, upriver journey. Their little armada always seems to favour the protected cove at Fanjoy's Point. I could hear them laughing and splashing yesterday as I prepared to go windsurfing.

They'll stay there, anchored for a day or two, cohabiting in a space roughly equivalent to that of a small garage. They'll tie their boat up a neighbouring boat, and so on. It's called rafting. It's a good way to get to know your true friends.

I'd bet that every couple on those sailboats has a happy marriage. They couldn't sail together if they didn't. Sailing as a couple tests your tolerance. I'd recommend that every couple sail together for a week before they march down the aisle.

I didn't do this myself, but I did carry out a little test before I got to know my current wife. My first date with Wendy involved taking her sailing. I took her out on a Laser, a boat small enough to be considered something a real yacht might fart out. At one point during our little adventure, I dry dumped the boat. That meant that I tipped the boat over. Wendy fell into the lake. I stayed high and dry, like Captain Bligh. There was no mutiny, only laughter and smiles, so I married her.


  1. and i thought you wrote "dry humped the boat"...look where my dirty mind goes to at 09:35..good grief!

  2. Lovely Ian . . .me? I would have dry dumped you had you tried that on me!!!