Pirates have often been accused of being illiterate, ignorant thugs whose only interests were rum, booty (spell that gold, silver, and pieces of eight), and booty (spell that hot babes), but that simply is not true. Okay, on some ships it was, but if you sailed with Captain Benjamin Hornigold, William Kidd, or Thomas Tew, you had better know your stuff.
The fact is, navigators had to chart their course literally by the stars, and unlike sailors today didn’t have the guess work taken out of a tedious and dangerous journey by GPS equipment and computers. That’s not to take away from the modern sailor who still must be an expert to bring a ship safely into harbor; it’s just that these ancient sailors had to be so knowledgeable and skilled, that common sailors referred to them as Artisans.
I’ve compiled a small tribute to pirates and mariners whether they graduated from the Yale of their day, or never saw the inside of a classroom. I hope Hornigold, Kidd and Tew approve. Maybe even today’s sailors will see a little something of themselves in this “Verse”-a-tile poem.
A is for anchor pirates throw out in a storm.
B is for booty, just the thought keeps me warm.
C is for cannons that boom and then blast
It’s also for slow crew who move just half fast.
D is for the ever-dangerous Davy Jones;
He lies in the ocean ready to rattle your bones.
E is for every able-bodied sailor at sea.
There’s hardly a port that they’d rather not be.
F is for flags and the pirates who fly ‘em.
They’ll steal yours if they can,
Cause they’ll never once buy ‘em.
G is for gibbets that cage rotting bodies;
Soon only vultures will think Pirates are hotties.
H is for harbor and halyard and hammock;
Sleep in one too long, and you’ll want a bed,
Oh, by damn it!
I is for island where wenches are waiting;
The bawdiest ones get the highest of ratings.
J is for journeys that surely must end;
With endless horizons, it’s just hard to say when.
K is for Kraken, a horrible beast;
He loves salty sailors as good as roast beef.
L is for lighthouse that shines out at sea;
For centuries it’s filled sailors’ hearts with great glee.
M is for marooned pirates abandoned on shore
With a dram of hot rum and a rusty, old sword.
Here pirates are promised rum, women, and mirth.
O is for overboard when the plank is withdrawn.
Better be a good swimmer,
Cuz ye could be swimmin’ till dawn.
P is for plunder and pieces of eight
Spent on wenches and rum,
You know I can’t wait.
Q is for quarters, and none will be given;
Best fight to the death; ain’t no time to be quittin’.
R is for rum or a wanton sea rover.
On ship or in port, ain’t one that is sober.
S is for shipwrecks, but it could be for sin;
pirates are naughty wherever they’ve been.
T is for treasure. I blew mine in port
Gamblin’ and wenchin’ and rum by the quart.
U is for Uncommon Mariners at sea,
Far from all land, they’re just thrilled to be free.
V is for vaporing pirates who curse;
Resist and they’ll turn you into
Dainty hors d’oeuvres.
W is for shipwrecked with me nothing to wear;
And all I can think of it’s Five O’clock Somewhere.
X marks the spot where pirates their treasure did bury,
After feasting and gambling and making all merry.
Y is for yawl, a small vessel afloat,
In South Carolina, they call it a boat.
Z is for zero; it’s what’s left of me booty;
I spent it in bars, romancing the Cuties.
To leave a comment on this poem, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/the-abcs-of-being-a-pirate/
This past week we’ve been celebrating National Safe Boating Week, and I talked about stupid things boaters do out there on the water. The whole point of Safe Boating Week is to make boaters more conscientious of exercising common sense and diligence not only this week but throughout the summer and beyond.
One of the things I mentioned was carrying and using life jackets. A second was the failure to check the weather forecast. After all, do you really think a member of the Coast Guard should not go home to his/her family tonight because they died getting you out of a dangerous situation you should never have put yourself into?
The third stupid thing I mentioned was operating a boat while intoxicated. Pirates used to do it, and the consequences were often devastating. Blackbeard’s head was hanging from the bowsprit of Capt. Maynard’s ship when he brought survivors of Blackbeard’s crew to Williamsburg. Nothing glorious or funny about that. In fact, the only place where drinking and operating a vehicle is funny is in the movies. Everyone in the audience has a great time, and then the words The End flash on the screen and everyone goes home happy. Except in real life, where after a DUI or a BUI, there’s a wake of dead and mangled bodies and a swath of broken lives.
Playing it forward, I think the next stupid thing boaters do is to fail to make sure all their systems are functioning properly. That funny noise you heard your engine make last time you were out. Well, are you going to check it out before weighing anchor tomorrow? That funny smell coming from below deck that smells oddly like burning wires, did you give that any thought when you got back to the marina?
Did you know it doesn’t cost you a red cent to have your boat inspected by someone who is a qualified expert, as good as any you’ll find in the best of marinas? These men and women are professional, friendly, and knowledgeable. And they won’t try to sell you on repairs you don’t need. Have you ever heard of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary?
You’ll find them across the United States, in marinas, bays, and channels, and they will inspect your boat for free. The only thing you need to pay is a little respect and attention. Contrary to what some boaters say, the Coast Guard and their right arm, Coast Guard Auxiliarists, who number over 26,000, are not wet blankets with the sole purpose of ruining your plans for fun out on the water. By 2017, the 200th birthday of the Coast Guard, these men and women, who serve in this unique military branch, saved over 4,188 lives and performed over 16,907 rescues. Maybe one day, your life or one of your loved ones will be added to that number.
To find out more information on this dedicated group of men and women who still serve their country without pay, or to request an inspection of your floating bucket of bolts, go to http://www.cgaux.org/vsc/ .
The fifth stupid thing boaters do is to fail to learn the basic rules of boating safety and navigation. Taking a basic course with neither your head nor your heart in it can be dangerous for the simple reason that you think you know all about operating a boat. The British poet, Alexander Pope was right 300 years ago, and he’s still right. “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” And nothing’s more dangerous than an arrogant, know-it-all boater except maybe a drunken, arrogant, know-it-all boater.
There are all kinds of courses you can take. Some of them excellent, and some pretty pathetic. If you want a fair recommendation, ask the experts who have to deal with the mess, ignorant and stupid boaters leave in their wake. As if you couldn’t guess, contact http://www.cgaux.org/boatinged/ and look for boating courses.
Another stupid thing that annoys the bejessus out of safe boaters are the fools that operate their boat recklessly. They’re the ones who hot dog it in the bay and marina, cross your path, leaving you little time to react, while you have to deal with their wake. It’s the equivalent of someone crossing three lanes of traffic to make it to their exit ramp. Everyone else be damned. Many of these boaters are either so drunk or are texting and don’t even know they’re bearing down on you, leaving you little time to react. When these guys get caught, they should be used as chum by the local fishing fleet.
Letting your Uncle Joe, who up to now has only seen pictures of a boat, take the helm, is probably just as stupid as being a hotdog. Why would you do that? You have an expensive piece of equipment, and you’re letting someone with no experience take control, while you’re aft getting ripped on vodka and orange juice?
The eighth stupid thing you can probably do is to go out without filing a plan with someone. If you fail to come home at the end of the day, your wife is going to sound pretty stupid. “Where did he go?” “I don’t know?” “What time did he weigh anchor?’ “I don’t know.” “Was he expecting to stop somewhere?” “I don’t know.” “Do you know anything?” “I know I’ll be happy if you wait four weeks before starting a Search and Rescue.”
Seriously, bad things can happen out on the river as well as the sea, and the sooner the professionals know they should be looking for you, and as soon as they have a clue where to look, the better are your chances of being rescued.
The ninth stupid thing a boater can do is fail to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat. The weather looks overcast, muses many a boater as he weighs anchor at 7:00 am. “Aww, shucks! I left that stuff in another bag in the car.” Two hours later the fog and mist have burned away. Want to know the next thing that’s going to burn away? The epidermis on a boater’s exposed skin. With no hat, a bald man’s head is a solar panel for the sun’s rays, and his nose, ears, and neck become ground zero for melanoma. And with no covering for his eyes, he is about to inflict serious damage on his retinas. And I’m betting it won’t be the first time either.
That brings us to the tenth stupid thing that boaters do, but I’m done. I’m leaving number ten to you. What do you think is a stupid, stupid thing that a stupid, stupid boater does? This piece won’t be complete without your contribution. So whether you’re an inveterate boater, an armchair sailor, a Navy frogman, or a member of the USCG, let me hear from you.
My pirate ship is moored at an undisclosed location, and I’m sitting under a palm tree in my Key West Garden here in Murrells Inlet. A bottle of Repel 40 deet sits on my table next to my Panama Jack 70 sunblock. My Margaritaville glass, once filled with water, is nearly empty. It’s important to stay hydrated in this humid SC weather, so I think my refill is going to be a Foster’s, mate! I’m in dock, my bare feet on terra firma, but the dreams of the sea still call my name. Maybe I’ll answer tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s looking at you, kid! And stay safe out there on the water. And don’t forget to behave yourself. Or you may be reading about yourself in this blog next week.
To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/seven-more-stupid-things-you-can-do-out-on-the-water/
Boating season is in full swing here in South Carolina, not that you won’t find impassioned boaters active here and elsewhere in the United States year-round. But somehow the warm weather seems to attract more than the water’s share of wackos who think they are impervious to their really bad choices. Once we get into the dead heat of summer, it’s hard not to pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV and learn about the antics of some moron that brought about someone’s serious injury or death.
Below are three really bad things to do with your boat, though I’m sure seasoned boaters and the United States Coast Guard can easily add to this list. Before reading any further, maybe you ought to take a couple of Dramamine tablets and a life jacket. It won’t keep you from getting seasick, but when you sail with some of the characters I’m about to introduce, you might be tempted to jump overboard.
First, there are the boaters that don’t carry life jackets or bother to use them. I know the Coast Guard would agree with me 100% on this. While laws generally vary from state to state, generally, children, operators of personal water craft, and water skiers are supposed to wear one. They should also fit snugly which is why adult life jackets are deathtraps for children.
A lot of operators of boats always assume a boating accident isn’t going to happen to them. Assumption is the mother of all Screw-ups. Actually, I wanted to use a more colorful phrase because I can’t make this point too strongly, but I think wordpress would banish me even if it saved a life. A lot more than collisions can cause a person to drown. Losing balance and falling overboard while fishing, for instance. Or rough seas that end up swamping your boat.
A lot of people complain wearing a lifejacket is too restrictive. Well, if you think wearing one of those things is uncomfortable, imagine how comfortable it is to be gasping for air underwater while your lungs fill with water. If you want a thorough list of Do’s and Don’ts for lifejacket usage visit the United States Coast Guard at http://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/life-jacket-wear-wearing-your-life-jacket.php.
Another common yet equally stupid thing for boaters to do is not check the weather forecast. They got their sandwiches packed; enough beer to float their vessel, enough ice to sink the Titanic, and a wide variety of fishing tackle that would make Ernest Hemingway look like a namby-pamby. Yet somehow checking the forecast doesn’t fit into their idea of a fun day.
What these knuckleheads don’t realize is that Mother Nature changes her moods out on the sea as frequently as the weather in Miami in the middle of a hot August afternoon. As my good friend, Jimmy, from Miami says: “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” When you’re a few miles offshore, and a weather maker blows up from nowhere, it’s a little too late to run for shelter. There’s really no excuse for not checking the forecast when you have an expert site like https://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/marine/home.htm to go to.
You can probably guess at the next thing stupid boaters do. That’s why I’m lumping them with drunken pirates. A third of boating accidents are alcohol-related. Blackbeard would probably still be alive today, raiding ships off North Carolina if he had a clear head the day Lieutenant Maynard sailed into the shallow inlets of Beaufort, NC looking for him. Instead, with a false sense of bravado, fueled by his nightlong rum-swilling, he pursued Maynard’s ship after it was grounded. (His own ship was freed only minutes before by the rising tide.) Had he been sober, Blackbeard might have weighed anchor and escaped. Instead, he led his drunken men aboard Maynard’s ship, where the lieutenant surprised him with well-armed men concealed below deck.
When you’re out on the water, anything can happen, from a malfunctioning engine to a man overboard, to an encounter with an intoxicated boater mindlessly bearing down on you. It’s true you probably won’t meet any pirates out there, but the point is you have to be ready to deal with any crisis. Being three sheets to the wind because of too much rum is hazardous for both you, your guests, and your boat.
While the irresponsible boater may think it’s no big deal to get caught while under the influence, he might consider penalties could include suspension of driving and boating licenses, fines, and possible jail time. Not a lot of fun if you sober up in jail and realize you got Bubba for a cellmate and he’s been lonely for a long, long time. Visit https://www.uscgboating.org/recreational-boaters/boating-under-the-influence.php where the Coast Guard gives you a whole lot more to think about before taking that first shot of rum.
Boating Safety Week is held this year from May 18 to May 24, in the effort to make boaters a lot more conscientious about their choices out on the water. I think boat safety is so important, it needs more than just seven days. I think it needs to be extended throughout the summer and beyond. Visit me again here and find out the next three stupid things even pirates wouldn’t do with their boat.
Until then, smooth sailing on the high seas, and if you get on board someone else’s ship, be sure you get your fair share of rum, but first make sure to ask for your life jacket.
The Uncommon Mariner
PS. Want more fun out on the water? Want to join a pirate crew that’s saavy and safe? Check out https://www.coolboatsusvi.com/silent-lady.html
To leave a comment, visit me at https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/the-three-most-stupid-things-you-can-do-on-the-water/ Maybe you can guess what the next three things are that stupid boaters do.