Silly, sillier…and SOS!


Imagine this.

A full moon on a clear starlit night. Anchored in a sandy cove, gently bobbing along on the waves, the quiet hush of scented candles and wine whispers into the night. The sky is strewn with soft, fluffy clouds and the moon dances between them, casting its glimmer here, dazzling me with its jaw dropping beauty there. It is oh so divine.

And amidst this light and floaty mid summer’s night, a symphony played out its lunacy. Silly banter floated on the waves and came back as giggly squeals, dolphins surfaced playfully alongside us. A superstitious crew member noted it was a sign of good luck. Then the night started taking a new direction. Superstitions, jokes, proverbs, and other silly things dominated the air waves.

On a full moon night they say, ‘Silly’ can become ‘Sillier’. And that night was no different. A little game started, and the pay off for the group was that whoever came up with the silliest thing would have to walk the plank … in his or her birthday suit, (metaphorically speaking I hoped). It was just a game, some easy banter to lighten up a good post dinner lull, some lighthearted fun activity. The cigars were out; some fine cognac was being swirled gracefully.  We got the game going by telling each other sailing jokes.

I began with one of my staples…

Why do opera singers make good sailors?

Because they can handle high seas. (High C’s!)

This was greeted by a few giggles and a few hmmms…Then someone else came up with this one:

What do you call a wave that’s just great?

A swell!

This was met with a resounding ‘boo’ that bounced off the cliffs nearby. Then Bartholomew, a mixed up Welshman with some English ancestry, recalled one from his vast collection:

Why is sailing better than sex?

Your sailing partner will never say, “Not again? We just sailed last week! Is sailing all you ever think about?”

“How typically English! Stupid and boring”, huffed Catherine Henrietta. Huh huh, not good. Did we have a candidate for “the walk”? Bartholomew Pemberton-Thimbleby felt a little withered by her look. My! These French women can really carry off this “I am offended” expression to theatrical perfection!

Then Ferdinand, who fancied himself as the intellectual of the lot, made a couple of proverbial contributions…

He began with a Congolese Proverb, Don’t buy a boat that is under water. Seeing no trace of emotion from us, he countered  with a Japanese gem:  Fear blows wind into your sails. By the time he got around to the last thing he would be saying for some time, we could barely hear that Turkish delight, A ship with two captains sinks.


Ferdinand, too, seemed a good candidate for “the walk” and he gulped nervously when he realized this.

I tried to interject a ‘silly’ moment, trying to save him some face, after all nobody could throw me off my boat right? I quoted Bob Dylan, Sailing round the world in a dirty gondola … Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola! Isabella, who I always referred to fondly as ‘Ms. Espanola’, didn’t find that funny at all. I tried backing off but she froze my heart with a matador like look. I admit I blew the opportunity I had to snuggle up to her later right then.

To pep things up a bit, the conversation drifted to women. It was the men, naturally, who steered the comparison between sailboats and women.

“Sailboats never have a headache”.

“Sailboats are always in the mood”.

“Sailboats, like women, are best manoeuvered with a light touch. However, a sailboat’s response is predictable”.

“Sailboats never care if you arrive with buddies and choose to spend the evening playing cards”.

“Sailboats never need another pair of shoes”.

Each line was greeted with hoots of wicked joy and laughter from the boys; however the women seemed to have had enough. The imposing and ceremonial Countess Vanessa de Alfonso of the Hapsburg stock ticked us all off in her very imperious manner and ordered us off the plank forthwith.

As Bartholomew stepped off “the walk”, the women began smiling. And by the time I was pushed, the women seemed to be having a good time for the first time that evening.

It felt strange that I was thrown off my own boat…and stranger to see it sail away without us.

So, if you are reading this, please send help. Our last known position was approximately 38°30’ N and 20°30’ E and we have no provisions with us, not even our clothes.

And as a dolphin suddenly appeared alongside me, I turned to him and enquired, “Where was the luck you were supposed to bring?”

Hmmm…How silly of me!

India Boating, July ’07

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