Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Death to the Teetotaling Sailor!

"Any damn fool can navigate the world sober. It takes a really good sailor to do it drunk". - Sir Francis Chichester

When I first subscribed to SAIL magazine, I thought the editors wrote against drinking-while-sailing simply because that's what editors of a mainstream magazine are supposed to say. I didn't realize they were serious.

Now I've discovered that there are many sailors who abstain from drinking while under way. Take, for example, some recent stick-up-the-butt comments made in response to one of my posts:
"the fact that there was booze on the boat bespeaks for the quality of the captain and crew. i would never venture offshore with anyone who couldn't wait until docking to have a cold one."

"a glass of wine or beer with dinner is fine, but no one should 'drink and drive'. The captain and at least one resonsible crew member should stay sober."

(both anonymous, of course)
This is laughable considering that sailboats rarely move more than 7.5 knots (8.6 MPH) so the "drinking & driving" argument is a horrible analogy. Sailing drunk rarely harms anyone outside the hangovers experienced by the sailors themselves (I can't say the same for stinkpotters).

Something about sailing just makes you want alcohol. I'll never forget the time earlier this spring when I was coincidentally sailing at the same time in different parts of Maryland as my buddy, Matlow Toldmie. Matlow was on his sunfish without drink, while we were into our second Coors Light at 10:30AM. The call came through and --- on a dry boat --- he simply wanted us to descibe how the cold can felt, looked, smelled and tasted. For five minutes we described that can of beer in laborious detail and his mood was lifted.

And some of the greatest sailors in history have been three sheets to the wind during their finest hours. The first man to sail solo non-stop around the world (1968), Robin Knox-Johnston, was no fan of teetotalers (I've talked to him about it). Here's a typical dispatch during the recent Velux round-the-world race: "Whisky in tea at 0400 on a dark and wet night is the nearest to nectar I can imagine." Knox-Johnston was even sponsored by Old Puteney scotch. And christ, the British Navy only forbade liquor rations as recently as the 1970s.

I don't trust a sailor who doesn't drink while sailing. These modern-age teetotaling sailors are the same uptight fuckwads who make their children hate sailing and never want to sail past age 16 --- dudes who'll think less of you if you accidentally wrap the jib sheet the wrong way around a winch. Really, who fucking cares.

I've been all over the world, and by far the USA is the most uptight country when it comes to safety, and this anal retentiveness has translated into one of the most laid-back sports we have.

I want no part of that.

Granted, there are times (like during a storm) when as captain, I will call a moratorium on alcohol. And drugs are not allowed on my vessels (I once had someone jump overboard during a storm after smoking marijuana).

But otherwise, let's get drunk, people. Wind and saltwater alone aren't enough to keep my blood flowing.

Your captain, as a living middle finger to sober sailors:

from comments on


you guys are a bunch of elitist assholes. all of you.

so what, the guys in to his bike, he could also be buying 25,000 giant SUV that not only gets 8 miles per gallon, but it hits kids riding their bikes in the streets. on purpose.

riding bikes is not a trend, it is a counter culture that should welcome all participants. there are people dying and you people are talking shit about a pretty sunset.

The only time a man shouldn't drink on a boat is if he's AA and within a mile of the coast.

bottoms up!!!
I'll drink to that!!
Story on why maybe you shouldn't drink and sail. The real point is that it's a freakin' judicial travesty but still it's worth noting that the drunken sailor is the guy up on manslaughter charges despite going less than 1 knot at the time.

I'm not against drinking while sailing though I don't do it myself. Then again I don't drink and not sail either so my sailing sobriety has little to do with beliefs of drunkenness on water.

Wait, that story was about a stinkpotter going 55 MPH who killed a woman who was anchored. Did you put the right link?
Whoops, better link to the Clear Lake story.
It was the wrong link about the right story. The stinkpotter was going 40-50MPH at night on a lake, hit a drifting sailboat (not anchored), and killed a woman in the cabin of the sailboat. The sailor at the helm was over the legal blood alcohol limit and has been charged with manslaughter. Not the speeding powerboater, but the person at the helm of the sailboat.

The story is somewhat muddied by whether the sailboat had lights on or not(many witnesses say yes) and that the stinkpotter is a deputy sheriff.

Since this blog allows swearing, this is a fucked up situation for the dead woman, the drunken sailor, and my faith in our legal system.

Varying accounts give you between 10-15 seconds upon hearing a powerboat coming that fast to actually make a move to avoid, pretty hard to do when there is no wind.


My god, that is a severe injustice. How the hell could the law charge someone who was going 1 KNOT (!) over someone going over 55 knots!

So sad.
With 50 mph idiots cruising at night, it's hard not to drink while sailing!!
Ah Ha! This post reminds me of the days when you'd go into conservative chat rooms and say"Long live the welfare state!"
Do you know what lengths I would go to in order to preserve my right to sail with a cold one in my hand?
Try the barrel length of my 12 gauge scattergun, bitch.
Uhh Lonnie. I agree with you for the most part, but I have personal experience with drunken navigation with some rather exciting results....
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