humor

Seven More Stupid Things You Can Do Out on the Water

If the pirates on board this ship had bothered to check the forecast instead of their rations of rum, they might have avoided this frightening weather maker

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.

 

 

 

 

                                     Bill Hegerich

                                      The Uncommon Mariner

 

To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/05/25/seven-more-stupid-things-you-can-do-out-on-the-water/

Fifty Things You’ll Never Find on a Pirate Ship

After a hard voyage of plundering and pillaging, pirates are always ready for a little fun. Here’s your chance to mess with them and win some of that booty they pilfered.

You might not know the answer to the following riddle, but it’s key to what you’re about to read. What’s a pirate’s favorite game at a birthday party? Ready for the answer? A Scavenger Hunt. Well, you can bet your very last doubloon you’d win a load of buried treasure if you could snooker drunken pirates into looking for the following items on a pirate ship.           Let’s get started, shall we?

  1. Washing machines.

  2. An ironing board.

  3. Clean dishes. What’s a dish, a pirate might well ask. These guys are the ones who invented the expression, “Finger-licking good.”

  4. Linen napkins.

  5. Bottles of deodorant.

  1. A prayer book.

  2. Bible Study Class

  3. An unopened bottle of wine.

  4. Love letters to their wives. Not only were many pirates unmarried, but when they captured ships and recruited men to serve on their ship, they often refused to let married men join their crew. The thinking was that married men would miss their wives and not have their heart and soul into the job.

  5. A savings account.

  1. Virgins. I don’t think we need to go into that one.

  2. Clean sheets. The closest thing pirates had for sheets were the grungy hammocks they slept in. And they only got washed when a wave accidently washed into an open port hole.

  3. Tooth brush.

  4. One look at Blackbeard would tell you this. The gnarlier and unkempt your appearance, the more ferocious you appeared.

  5. Fresh towels.

  1. Mouth wash. Let’s face it. Pirates weren’t particularly fond of g-aarrrrgggh-ling. Unless of course it was with rum.

  2. A copy of Roberts Rules of Order.

  3. A roll of toilet paper. But how did they……..? Don’t even ask.

  4. A barber. What’s the point of growing a beard, if you’re going to get a haircut? That’s why a lot of men walking around today would fail the initial test for being a pirate. So many have all these shaved, bald, shiny heads and a little pointed beard on their chin. Blackbeard would howl with laughter.

  5. A copy of The Eight Habits of Successful People. Pirates didn’t think in terms of long-range goals. Success to them was gold, rum, and lots of hot wenches.

  1. An English Teacher. Having taught 37 years, I think I can safely say, some of my worst students would have made great pirates.

  2. A book of etiquette.

  3. A copy of the Ten Commandments.

  4. A financial advisor. I’m afraid any financial advisor that worked aboard a pirate ship probably starved to death unless he got hired as a comedian and told them out important investing for the future was.

  5. A bottle of Febreze. Pirates had their own way of freshening the air below deck. When the stench from the bilge water became overwhelming, they lit sulphur and brimstone to kill the smell.

  1. Dental floss.

  2. A 12-step program. The only steps pirates were interested in were how many steps to a bottle of rum or their favorite wench.

  3. A piggy bank.

  4. A game of Scrabble. Every pirate would be an automatic winner since they spelled words any damn way they liked.

  5. Gourmet meals.

  1. Hand sanitizer.

  2. A copy of the New York Times.

  3. A library card. Most pirates would have been at a loss to read the books in a kindergarten classroom. Unless, of course, it had pictures.

  4. A subscription to Better Homes and Gardens. Though I bet there might have been one or two pirates who might have subscribed to Better Bars and Taverns had there been such a publication.

  5. Condoms. You don’t really want me to draw you a picture, do you?

  1. A box of Tic Tacs.

  2. An unopened six pack of beer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. An AARP card. I’m afraid the organization for retired persons wouldn’t have thrived on a pirate ship. You can be a member of AARP at 50. Most pirates didn’t make it out of their twenties and thirties.

  2. A handkerchief. Seriously! That’s what hairy arms were for.

  3. A checkbook. Words like checking, deposit, investments, interest, and balance were foreign words to the typical pirate.

41. A bar of soap.

  1. A tattoo that says, “Mom.”

  2. A Life Insurance policy.

  3. Matching Gucci luggage to store belongings on a long voyage.

  4. Room service. The fact is, pirates slept below deck with the cannons, their hammocks stretched out within feet of each other. No private suites here. And there was no Wake up call either. The only wake up call a pirate got was the loud boom of a cannon followed by the splintering of the hull above their head, if they still had one.

46. Clean underwear. If you got that kind of a wake-up call, would you still have clean underwear?

47. A five-star chef. If you’re fussy about how your meals are prepared, you might want to reconsider your aspirations as a pirate. The cook was often the guy who lost his arm in battle or got his leg mangled in the lines and could no longer do regular jobs. He knew as much about cooking as I know about astrophysics.

48. The board game, “Sorry.” The only thing pirates were sorry about was when they ran out of rum, or didn’t have any more doubloons to pay the wenches in port.

49. A bottle of Mr. Clean. Come on, get real. Why would a pirate want to keep anything clean? That’s the whole point of being a pirate. The only exception was their guns. These they were expected to keep in pristine condition.

  1. Tofu or quiche. If food didn’t, at one time, walk, cluck, moo, or poop, pirates weren’t crazy about putting it in their mouth. I can’t blame them, I’d rather walk the plank than have to touch quiche let alone eat it. Remember that book, “Real men don’t eat quiche?” Well, that applies to pirates a 100 fold.

So if you come across some real live pirates this coming week, go ahead and take advantage of them; challenge them to a little treasure hunt. A word of warning, however, Make sure you haven’t worn deodorant for a few days. You don’t want them to get suspicious.

 

                                       Bill Hegerich

                                       The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/05/06/fifty-things-youll-never-find-on-a-pirate-ship/  Happy voyages out there on the High Seas of Life. Don’t forget to have some fun.

Aaaarrrrgh!

This rendition of Anne Bonny at the Pirate Museum in Nassau captures her sauciness if not her sense of humor.

Aarrrgh is one of the defining words in our common psyche when we think of pirates. My wife says two mature, normal grown-ups can’t help but smile when they utter that word to each other. You can be a pirate aficionado, a parrothead with 50 years of partying and pirating under your sash, or just plain nuts like me, but the response will always be the same when someone greets you with “Aarrrgh!”

I don’t know why that is. As Johnny Depp says, “Enjoy the ride while it lasts.” Don’t question the gift of Aarrgh when someone brightens your day with one.

I taught school for over 37 years, and it’s the one word that’s practically impossible to misspell though I know a few people who would come close. Despite what you think and what you’ve seen in the dozens of pirate books you’ve read, there really is no one way to spell Aarrrgh.

Here are some of the more common ways. Aarrrgh!  Aaarr! Arrrr!  Arrr! Arrrgh! For the sake of consistency, I’m using Arr, though there are times when Arrgh is better.

Some historians assert that pirates never once uttered the word Aarrgh or anything like it. They assert that the word is a Hollywood device that can be traced back to Long John Silver in the story Treasure Island. I don’t think they would argue their point so loud if they were looking down the barrel of a Caribbean pirate’s cannon, or dancing a jig at the end of a pirate sword.

The fact is, many pirates were Irish, Welsh, and English. All three spoke with distinct accents that gave Aarrrgh a delightful flavor. Count among Welsh pirates, Henry Morgan, the inspiration behind Captain Morgan rum, and Black Bart aka Bartholomew Roberts. I don’t think a lot of people reading this would have wanted to sail on Roberts’ ship. He preferred to drink tea instead of rum.

Captain William Kidd was Scottish. I think his Aarrgh would have been as good as anyone’s in history. Blackbeard and Edward England were both English as was Calico Jack Rackham though his shipmate the notorious Anne Bonny was born in County Cork, Ireland. Anne delighted in revealing her breast to the men she conquered. Talk about wild Irish lasses! That alone deserves an Aaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh!

That’s not to say there weren’t French, Spanish, and Dutch pirates. Boy, there were plenty of those too. But I just don’t know how you can put a French or Dutch accent on Aarrrgh! Awkward!!!

The following are thirty pirate riddles with the word Aarrr in the answer. I have no doubt even Henry Morgan, if he sobered up long enough, would surely be amused. Ready or not, here they Arrr!

1.How do pirates like their eggs?

Arrr boiled

2. Where in the Caribbean do pirates go for vacation?

Arrr-uba

3. What’s a pirate’s favorite game fish?

Sh-arrr-ks!

4. Why was the pirate voted most valuable player in baseball?

Because he had the most Arrr BI’s.

5. What happened to the movie about pirates who plundered a ship with scantily clad wenches?

It was raided Arrr!

6. What music do pirates listen to?

Arrr and B

7. What’s a pirate’s favorite musical instrument?

An Arrr-monica

8. What was the pirate’s explosive secret weapon?

F-arrr-ts

9. What were pirates doing in the dollar store?

Looking for a b-arrr-gain.

10. What do pirates like to smoke after a day of pillaging and wenching?

Cig-arrrs!

11. What does a pirate do after brushing his teeth?

He g-arrr-gles with rum.

12. What did Blackbeard do when fuses got hopelessly tangled in his beard?

He went to a b-arrr-ber.

13. What do pirates like inscribed on their tombstone?

Arrr I P

14. Why didn’t the pirate say anything at his own trial?

Because there was no use in Arrr-guing with the judge.

15. Why did the pirate interrupt the band in the middle of the song?

He didn’t like the Arrr-angement.

16. What famous pirate appeared in Star Wars?

Arrr 2 D 2.

17. What’s a pirate’s favorite part of the boardwalk?

The Arrr-cade.

18. What do you call a muscular pirate with a German accent?

Arrr-nold Schwarzenegg-arrr

19. What vegetable does a cook never serve on a pirate ship?

Arrr-tichokes.

20. Why did the pirate drink unsweetened iced tea?

He didn’t like Arrr-tificial sweeteners.

21. Where do pirates hold their tailgate party before a night of plundering?

In the p-arrr-king lot.

22. What TV show do pirates like to watch when they get up in the morning?

C-arrr-toons.

23. What job did the pirate volunteer for on Thanksgiving Day?

C-arrr-ving the turkey.

24. Why was the pirate limping?

Fallen Arrr-ches.

25. How do pirates spend their Saturday mornings?

They go to yarrr-d sales.

 

 

 

 

 

26. If God is a pirate, what’s the first thing he’s going to ask to see when you reach heaven?

Your sc-arrrs.

27. What kind of toilet paper do pirates use?

Ch-arrr-main.

28. What’s the smelliest part of a pirate?

His Arrr-m pit.

29. Who was the best pirate to ever play golf?

Arr-rnold Palmer

30. What did God tell Noah to do when he turned pirate?

Start building an Arrr-k.

How about you? I bet there’s a little pirate in you yearning to break free. What arrr you waiting for? Let me hear your best aarrr jokes.

To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/aaaarrrrgh/  with a sense of humor.

                            Bill Hegerich

                            The Uncommon Mariner

Signs Your Cruise Ship is actually a Pirate Ship

You may think you’ve signed on for a fantastic cruise in the Caribbean, but you may be in for the surprise of your life.

My wife and I recently booked a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean and were shocked when, at the last minute, it was canceled. Whoever heard of a cruise being canceled where hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake? In all fairness, the cruise company refunded our money along with some malarkey about renovations, but I think a whole lot more than that was going on. Just between you and me, and please don’t tell anyone this, because I don’t want it to get around, but I think it had a whole lot to do with pirates and less to do with making a ship looking good for a bunch of tourists, most of whom are half in the bag for seven straight days.

Think about it before you take another sip of your rum. Our ship was supposed to be travelling in the Caribbean. The Caribbean! The epicenter of piracy during the Golden Age of Piracy. I’ve studied this topic pretty intensely, so it’s hard to pull the wool over my eyes. Maybe an eyepatch but not wool. Let me put it this way. The spirit of Blackbeard and his kind is alive and well in the Caribbean. If you doubt that, you obviously haven’t been to a Jimmy Buffett concert or heard his song, A Pirate Looks at Forty.

At the risk of betraying my brothers under the black flag, I’m going to say no more. What I will do is give you a list of thirty signs that the next cruise ship you sign up for may not really be a cruise ship at all. You can do your homework, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. My wife and I know that firsthand.

  1. Your travel agent’s name is Black Bart Jr. or Black Sam Bellamy.
  2. Crew members refer to passengers as Scurvy Dogs.
  3. The navigator of the ship uses a treasure map instead of navigational equipment to set the ship’s course.
  4. All the crew members finish their sentences with, “Aarrrgh!”
  5. Pirates are constantly doing cannonballs in the swimming pool.
  6. Every itinerary ends up the same way. On a desert island with you and a shovel, digging for treasure while 50 pirates look on, sipping rum.
  7. Half the crew members have one leg. The other half wear an eye patch. And the other half have a hook. {And before ya go correctin’ me math, quit yer bellyachin’ because I gave ya an extra fifty percent. It’s the pirate way!)
  8. If you’re awakened every morning by the thunder of cannons, it’s a good bet you’re not on yer typical cruise ship.

 

  1. The black flag flying from the topmast is another good sign yer not gettin’ a normal cruise experience.
  2. When your ship pulls into a foreign port, instead of receiving a hearty welcome, everybody’s firing cannonballs at ya.
  3. No matter what drink you order at the bar, ye always get rum.
  4. The ship’s dress code is pirate-casual. For the uninformed of you, that’s wearing the same t-shirt you had on last month complete with stains from every dinner ya ate.
  5. Instead of presenting you with a menu, the head waiter wears a shirt with stains from all the meals of the last cruise. To order, all ya have to do is point to the appropriate glob.
  6. Your bed is a hammock stretched out next to 2,000 other hammocks.
  7. Bathroom facilities are at the very fore of the ship where a single seat with a round hole perches over the sea. Magazines are considered amenities so expect to pay extra.
  8. If you sign up for a deck activity and find yourself swabbing it, you need to have a little talk with yer travel agent.

 

  1. If ya still think yer on a pirate ship, see if ye have a Sail and Swipe card. If not, then yer going to have to pay with pieces-of-eight or doubloons. Lacking that, everything’s going to cost ya an arm or a leg.
  2. On the upside, every itinerary includes three visits to Port Royal, “the wickedest city on earth.” Tell ‘em Captain Morgan sent ya.
  3. Every night, it’s always the same movie, Pirates of the Caribbean.
  4. Normal cruise directors don’t wear a tricorn hat and wave a sword wildly at the passengers. Ya could complain, but it’s going to be a long swim back to port.
  5. Unlike real cruise ships where they’ll confiscate any rum you smuggle on board, a pirate crew will regale you as a hero.
  6. But be forewarned, mate. If you smuggle deodorant on board, expect to be clapped in chains.
  7. On a pirate ship, be prepared to swap omelets and bacon for grog and hardtack. That’s a dried piece of bread that’s had the life baked out of it. Any weevils that crawl out of it are complimentary.

 

  1. There is no art for sale on a pirate ship. But don’t be surprised if you find things in your luggage being auctioned off.
  2. Instead of attending mandatory muster where everyone is taught how to abandon ship in an emergency, passengers are taught how to dodge flying cannon balls.
  3. When you win a trivia game, you get a choice between a shot of rum and a little booty.
  4. Your beverage package consists of light rum, dark rum, and ale. In fact, it consists of anything except water. With all the disgusting things fish do in it, pirates aren’t taking any chances.
  5. There are no slot machines on board a pirate ship, but there are dice and card games run by dealers with a hook. But don’t try to cheat. The next hand that’s dealt might be yer own.
  6. Real cruise ships have deck chairs, so if you have to sit with 14 others on a Dead Man’s Chest, you’re probably not on the Celebrity or the Carnival.
  7. Finally, remember the galley doubles as the infirmary, and the cook moonlights as the ship’s doctor. And they don’t accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

That’s it, folks. If you’re planning a cruise in the near future. I suggest you pay close attention to this list. And if you talk to Black Bart, tell him the Uncommon Mariner sent you! Maybe I’ll be seeing ya out there on the high seas. And remember me motto: A little booty, a little rum, and me saucy wench make for a lot of fun.  Aarrrgggh!

                       Bill Hegerich

                      The Uncommon Mariner

 

What experience have you had with pirate ships or cruise ships? Go to https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/signs-your-cruise-ship-is-actually-a-pirate-ship/ and tell me about it.

Halloween Advice for Pirates

What happened when the pirates argued about who should keep the skeleton?
For the answer see the end of the blog.

It’s hard to believe Halloween is almost here. Pirates know something about that holiday. Let’s face it who knows more about scary things like skeletons and things that go bump in the night. Especially since so many pirates were turned into skeletons over the years.

I’ve noticed a lot of advice being given to trick-or-treaters these past couple weeks. It’s good advice for kids who dare to go out in the dark, facing unknown dreads just for a little bit of candy. You won’t find genuine pirates facing their fears for a Snickers bar. Maybe a little rum, or a pretty wench, or a little gold, but it’s going to take more than a Mary Jane or some stale popcorn to get me out of me easy chair.  It was a Mary Jane that ripped out half my fillings one Halloween when I was a kid.

A lot of the advice kids get is good, sound information. Travel in groups. Don’t take unnecessary risks. Watch out for obstacles. Not every adult is your friend. Check something carefully before consuming it. That’s advice every pirate should heed.

For example, a lot more pirates would have survived the Golden Age of Piracy if they stayed in groups. And even more would be alive if they didn’t take unnecessary risks. Blackbeard should have paid attention to that one. After an intense exchange of firepower, a ship that attacked him appeared to be lifeless. Instead of letting things alone, he had his men board the ship. Was he ever surprised when a whole regiment of soldiers and sailors suddenly poured on deck and decimated his crew.

And Captain Kidd was thinking more like a kid when he sailed to New York and met with the very man he trusted would exonerate him. Lord Bellomont may have held a respectable position as governor, but he certainly was not his friend. Kidd trusted two passes to Bellomont, passes that would have cleared his name. Instead, the passes mysteriously vanished, Kidd was put on trial, hanged, and his body left to rot on a dock where other sailors could view his remains for months to come. I bet Jamie Lee Curtis or Freddy Kreuger didn’t have to face anything like that.

Moms and dads have the bases covered when it comes to protecting their kids this Halloween, but I’m a little worried about pirates because some of the great advice kids are given is just plain terrible for a buccaneer.

For example, someone told his kid not to wear an eye-patch because it would obstruct his view. That’s terrible advice for a pirate. I mean what do you expect a bloke with one eye to wear? Besides when you’re being attacked by a one-eyed pirate with a black eye-patch, you’re probably going to think twice about fighting back.

Adults also tell kids to wear bright clothing so they can easily be seen. When you’re a pirate, being easily seen is the last thing you want to happen. How do you think pirates got their hands on all that booty not to mention their wench’s booty over the years?

Another piece of advice that is just plain wrong is wearing reflective tape on your costume. You can’t be serious! Bartholomew Roberts would still be alive today if he didn’t do something similarly stupid. He used to dress up in bright fine clothes with gold chains and other jewelry around his neck. Can you guess what happened to him at the very beginning of one battle? I’ll give you a hint. It was his last battle, and not because he retired.

Kids are told not to carry pointed sword, sticks, or other sharp objects. Now that is excellent advice. BUT NOT FOR PIRATES! I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell pirates before they go out to leave their swords below deck. I think you can imagine where they would stick them before I finished giving such fine advice.

Finally, kids are warned to avoid dark places. Now that’s sound advice for a kid on any night of the year. The trouble is that’s where pirates do their best work. And I can’t think of a better place for a pirate to cozy up with his wench than a quiet, dark place.

Halloween is almost here, so I gotta go. I have to look for my eye-patch and check to make sure my sword is sharp enough for whatever things I meet that go bump in the night. Then I’m going to grab me pirate wench and find a nice dark, cozy room.

Happy Halloween and stay safe.

                                      Bill Hegerich

                                      The Uncommon Mariner

                              Riddle Answer: It became a bone of contention.

To bring good luck upon yourself from the gods of the seas, leave a comment at: https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/10/30/halloween-advice-for-pirates/

Hawaii

There are four major Tiki gods: Kono, Kane, Kanaloa, and Ku plus numerous small ones. These two Tiki gods apparently are discussing who drank their rum. I hope they know it wasn’t me.

We recently celebrated the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, January 18, 1778 by Captain James Cook. Surprisingly, there were no tiki bars when he landed, no grass skirts on the women, and no pineapples growing there.

And I’m pretty sure neither Cook nor his men got leied by the natives, though they were surprised to see the visitors appear on the horizon at the culmination of a sacred festival. The natives took their appearance as a sign that they were gods. I don’t think Cook and his men did much to discourage that idea.

Cook named his discovery the Sandwich Islands after John Montague, Earl of Sandwich, a generous benefactor who helped make Cook’s voyages possible. I don’t think I would have called it that especially in front of a crew of hungry sailors.

One of the best books ever written about the islands was penned by James Michener, who once served in the Navy there. He went to great extremes to research his topic so that he got it right. Of all things, he called his book Hawaii. Imagine that. What’s more, the book was translated into 32 languages. I’d be happy if my book was translated into one language.

Though it’s a fictionalized account of the islands, Hawaii is so true to its history that it could be a documentary. One of the things you might be surprised to learn about Hawaii is that among the first settlers were Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands and natives from Bora Bora in the South Pacific. I’m glad they didn’t name their new home Hawaii Hawaii.

Everyone has heard of Maui but not many are familiar with Molokai, Hawaii’s fifth largest island. Its dark secret may be the reason. Unimmune islanders contracted diseases from visiting sailors and foreigners seeking their fortune. A small section of the island was set aside as a leprosy colony in 1866 and operated for over a hundred years. People exiled here were declared legally dead. That’s sad.

I’ve never been to the islands, but my daughter and son-in-law honeymooned in Maui. I wasn’t invited. As you can guess, the islands are breathtaking and all have their own, unique microclimate, so much so that you can indulge in sandy beaches, towering mountains, tropical rain forests, or volcanoes that still grumble.

In case you haven’t heard, the Hawaiian Islands are 2,500 miles from the mainland of the United States. Natives there don’t really use the phrase “mainland of the United States.” They just call it the mainland, and because it is so far away, everything must be imported. Cars, toothbrushes, hamburgers, and Hawaiian shirts. That makes living there quite expensive. You probably know Hawaii was made the 50th state in 1959, but what you may not know is the average home is around $270,000 while the average home on the mainland is closer to $119,000.

Despite the inconvenience and expense of having everything imported, the United States government is not about to close any of its bases. Hawaii is the key to protecting the mainland as well as keeping an eye on things in that corner of the world.

Unless you spend your life in the fantasy world of Facebook, you no doubt have heard about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. On a quiet Sunday morning on Dec. 07, 1941, Japanese Kamikaze bombers came roaring out of the western Pacific and bombed the hell out of the American fleet and the Navy personnel there. Over 2,200 Americans died that day with another 1,200 wounded.  The surprise attack destroyed battleships, cruisers, destroyers, and over 188 planes. The only reason our three great aircraft carriers weren’t destroyed was because they weren’t in port that day. Talk about luck.

Franklin D. Roosevelt called it a, “Day which will live in infamy.” He was right. And it’s why we should always be extremely cagey when dealing with the bastard in North Korea, nuts enough to think he can get away with something similar. When unstable leaders like Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump play chicken with each other, the whole world better sit up and pay attention.

As beautiful and breathtaking as the images of Hawaii are, America’s early involvement in the islands have their root in a dark and checkered past. The United States helped overthrow the legitimate ruler, Queen Lili’uokalani in 1893 after years of wrangling and manipulation, and it wasn’t because the U.S. had a yearning for Hawaiian guitars, grass skirts, or luaus either. The culprits behind the overthrow of the queen were white businessmen headed by Sanford Dole, eager to expand their pineapple plantations at the islanders’ expense.

But non-Americans shouldn’t get too sanctimonious. The Spanish brutalized the natives of South America for gold and silver. European countries like England, France, Portugal, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands all had a hand in carving up the Dark Continent and wreaking untold misery on its native cultures.

Mark Twain once said, “There isn’t a foot of land in the world that doesn’t represent the ousting and re-ousting of a long line of successful “owners” who each in turn… defended it against the next gang of robbers who came to steal it…”  I bet Queen Lili’uokalani would agree with Twain’s assessment.

I don’t know if it’s the seductive images of Hawaii or the last few songs from Jimmy Buffett Live in Hawaii, but I think I’m getting a little nostalgic for luaus, Hawaiian shirts, and wahines in grass skirts. If my wife walks through the door wearing one, I’m getting my scissors out and do a little trimming. No sense letting grass grow under my feet. Or anywhere else.

                         Bill Hegerich

                        The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment or pay homage to the Tiki gods, go to https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/01/19/hawaii/

 

Winter in the Sunny South

This is Perry, my attack Flamingo. After losing an eye in battle, he now guards my mailbox.

If Blackbeard were still alive, I’m not sure what he would think of the recent storms that have plagued the south. Though he spent quite a bit of time in the warm, sunny Caribbean particularly Nassau, he also made North Carolina his home. The Coastal Carolinas along with most of the deep south have been battling snow and ice for well over a week now.

I’ve lived here for the better part of thirteen years, and not only has this been the worst winter, but close to the worst winter on record. Folks up North have no trouble throwing me statistics showing how much more brutal winter has been in the North and Midwest. But when you live in Upstate New York or Wisconsin, you’re supposed to freeze your buns off, and you’re supposed to get snow. A lot of it.

Even flamingos aren’t immune to the cold. I had to thaw this one in my shower and give him an extra dram of rum.

To complain about it would be like natives here complaining because they get sand in their shoes when walking the sandy beaches of the Grand Strand.

The last time snow made news along the Grand Strand was in March 2010. It’s easy to remember. My son came to run the Myrtle Beach Marathon along with six thousand other runners. However, when the weatherman forecast snow for the morning of the marathon, organizers cancelled it the night before, even though the first snowflake had yet to fall. I can’t tell you how disappointed the athletes who trained long and hard were. My son traveled all the way from New Jersey. He ran it anyway along with others from New York, Ohio, and states far west of the Mississippi.

The cancellation pretty much reflects the attitude towards snow here. Towns throughout the South are not equipped to handle snow or the icing of roads. Cities and towns in northern cities stockpile mountains of salt and have a gazillion pieces of equipment to remove snow; most cities in the south have little in their artillery to fire back at old man winter.

The recent storm caught Blackbeard and his wench by surprise. Lucky for them, Captain Morgan kept ’em warm.

Normally, any snow or ice that falls is gone when the sun rises the next day. This past week has been far from normal. Last night it got down to 15 degrees. With temperatures barely above freezing during the day, snow and ice continue to hang around for days instead of hours.

Many bridges and roads still ice over at night. Other roads have never melted. When the storm first hit, cars and trucks plowed helplessly into one another because inexperienced drivers didn’t understand the dynamics of a two-ton vehicle skidding on ice. Even emergency vehicles were forced to drive more slowly because of the hazardous conditions.

Despite the ice and snow in my palm trees, I can still hear the songs of the conch shell beckoning me to the Caribbean. Aarrrgh!

Diehard golfers, who have a choice of over a hundred courses to play on, found themselves reluctantly sitting at home when managers covered parts of their greens to preserve them from the devastating effects of the storm.

The good news is that temperatures are expected to rise into the fifties this coming week. It’s not enough to entice the Southern Belles to grab their bikinis and head for the beach, but at least the ice that has clung so tenaciously to roads will be a distant memory, and folks can get back to the business of playing golf and getting their gardens ready for spring. Even the pirates holed up here can start dreaming of outfitting their ships and prepare for a little pillaging, plundering, and wenching.

Whether you’re in the Pinelands of New Jersey, buried under three feet of snow, or basking on a Florida beach working on your tan, I hope the rest of your winter is mild. If it’s not, I hope you have a plan for staying warm. Part of mine includes putting on a DVD of Jimmy Buffett’s concert in Anguilla and snuggling up with me pirate wench. Let me know what you’re going to do to make it through the rest of winter.

 

                                       Bill Hegerich

                                       The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, go to https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/winter-in-the-sunny-south/ 

 

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Mermaids

Mermaids have appeared in the oral and written traditions of cultures for thousands of years. According to a Syrian myth, 3,000 years old, the beautiful goddess, Atargatis, dove into the sea to become a fish. Smitten with her beauty, the gods intervened and let only the bottom half of her body transform itself.

A thousand years later, Pliny the Elder, a well-educated Roman philosopher and naturalist, not only believed in the existence of mermaids but described them in what was the prototype of the modern encyclopedia.

And though most people are familiar with mermaids, I bet many aren’t familiar with their close relatives, water sprites or naiads. The difference is that mermaids are physical beings like humans whereas naiads are less physical and more spirit. Most will not harm you unless disturbed. I know a lot of women today who are like that.

People who dismiss mermaids as a fairy tale are making a big mistake. Throughout history, quite a few intelligent people have sworn to sighting mermaids. Christopher Columbus in his journal noted that he and his men spotted three mermaids in the Caribbean just off Haiti though he was not impressed with them. In fact, he thought they were downright ugly.

I can’t help but wonder what the mermaids thought of him. The native peoples whom he brutalized weren’t particularly impressed with him either. Then there’s the explorer Henry Hudson who, with his men, spotted a mermaid and described her in detail in his log.

“She had the tail of a porpoise and was speckled like a mackerel…” When she turned over, his men discovered “From the navel up, her back and breasts were like a woman’s, her body as big as one of us; her skin very white with long black hair…”

If someone as sober and serious as the great explorer Henry Hudson is so certain of what he saw, it becomes difficult to reject the notion that these lovely aquatic creatures exist.

A few mermaids have the reputation of being downright dangerous. Some have been accused of dragging unsuspecting sailors off their ships and drowning them. Homer tells how Odysseus, on his journey home from war, encountered sirens. These seductive, mermaidlike creatures sang so beautifully that sailors, unable to resist steering their ship towards them, ended up dying on the rocky shore.

Odysseus was clever though. He had his men tie him to the mainmast of the ship with orders not to pay attention to him when they sailed past the sirens. Next, he had his men put wax in their ears. When they passed the sirens, only Odysseus was able to hear their seductive songs and howled for his men to steer towards them. More people should be as wise as Odysseus. I think the world would be in much better shape.

Not even the sea can quench the love between a mermaid and a human.

Another story recounts a young man taken by a mermaid below the sea where he fathered a family with her. I bet she was a lot prettier than the mermaids Columbus spotted. In fact, for him to father many children, she must have been a knockout.

In Medieval times, mermaids, with their voluptuous breasts exposed, appeared as figureheads at the end of church pews to remind friars to be ever vigilant to the temptations of the flesh. I don’t know about those monks, but if I were in that pew, I would have been meditating on all the fun we would have after a day at the beach.

Mermaids embody both a physical and spiritual beauty that is impossible to resist.

But who knows? Maybe those carvings increased the religious fervor of the monks. I, for one, would be showing up at chapel early, knowing I had one of God’s beautiful creatures to meditate on. At the very least, I’d be praying that she’d come alive.

Some people are surprised to learn that when mermaids come ashore, they can grow legs, though it becomes extremely painful for them to walk. Hans Christen Anderson was following tradition when he had his mermaid walking with great pain in The Little Mermaid.

Throughout history, there have been accounts of mermaids who were captured by men. Eventually, they escaped, but not without great consternation and pain. And I think that’s a shame. No creature should be taken from the sea and be treated as a pet or an oddity. Not mermaids, not dolphins, and certainly not whales That’s why the folks at SeaWorld and those who visit them should be filled with shame. How would you like it if dolphins captured you and made you do stupid tricks for the amusement of their friends when all you want is to be free and with your family?

Mermaids with streaming red hair are beautiful beyond description.

I’ve always been fascinated with mermaids, and I guess that’s why I’ve been married to one for forty-five years. And before you think I’ve been drinking too much of Blackbeard’s rum, let me point out my wife has all the traits of a mermaid. She’s beautiful, mysterious, seductive, charming, and enchanting. Her long, red hair, streaming in the wind or the sea, always confirms my suspicions.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, you should know that mermaids also have the power to grant someone their wishes. I can’t tell you how many wishes my mermaid has granted me over the years. And I’m not revealing what they were either.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The skeptics, no doubt, think I’ve gone off the deep end. But if you want to live with a mermaid, you have to go into the deep where they live. Besides you know what they say. If it looks like a mermaid, sings like a mermaid, and swims like a mermaid, it must be a mermaid.

Christmas and Hanukah will soon be upon us, and I want to wish all the mariners and mermaids out on the sea and those who journey no farther than their living room chair, a wonderful holiday season.

I invite you to let me know if you suspect you’re a mermaid or know a mermaid personally.

 

                                    Bill Hegerich

                                    The Uncommon Mariner

 

To comment on this post, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/ten-things-you-didnt-know-about-mermaids/

World Octopus Day

It may surprise you to know that World Octopus Day is October 8. In fact, you may be even more surprised that anyone would take the time to celebrate such an inglorious creature, but the octopus, despite its silly appearance, plays a vital role in the health of this planet.

For example, did you know that the octopus is an important part of the diet of    sea birds, whales, and sharks. Not to mention hundreds of other species of fish that find this charming creature absolutely delicious. You can put humans on that list as well. Over 300,000 tons of octopus are eaten around the world every year. Among Mediterranean and Asian peoples, octopus is an important part of the diet.

Let me tell you a little about this multi-faceted creature. It’s part of the classification of cephalopods. That’s a fancy word that scientists use to describe sea creatures whose arms are attached directly to its head. You should thank God every night that you’re not a cephalopod. You’d look pretty funny if you had your arms and legs attached to your head. And think of the money your saving on deodorant by not having to deal with eight armpits.

Some of the different kinds of cephalopods include octopus, squid, and the cuttlefish. Though it can get confusing, octopus should not be confused with squid. Octopus can range from quite small up to three feet and beyond. Squid are generally much larger with tentacles capable of wrapping clear around some whales. In bygone years, when sailors whispered tales of sea monsters, the squid was often the real subject.

A squid has ten arms and legs while an octopus has only eight. Just remember that October and octopus both come from the Latin word octo which means eight. In the old Roman calendar, October was actually the eighth month of the year, not the tenth.

Both squid and octopus are capable of ejecting a dark ink when threatened. How cool is that? The confusion it creates allows it enough time to escape. As a writer, I’d like to have some of that ink. Do you have any idea how much money I’d save by not having to  buy all those ink cartridges at Office Depot?

I bet there are a lot of people out there who have eaten octopus and don’t even know it. That’s because chefs got the idea of giving it a fancy name like Seafood Delight cooked in a special wine sauce. Cooking with wine definitely improves the taste of octopus especially if you have a few glasses before adding some to the sauce pan.

My favorite dish at the China Buffet where I sometimes dine used to serve octopus. I don’t know why they stopped, but I do know they were delicious. I’d hate to think I was the reason they removed it from the menu.

No longer than an inch or two, they were mostly head with tiny arms. Like any good Buddhist would do, I always prayed that those on my plate would have a better life next time. I also prayed that God would send more. I don’t think he was listening very hard to the second half of my prayer. Maybe he was out trying to save some lost sole in the ocean.

Many octopus have the unique ability to change their body. Many can camouflage themselves by changing their color. However, there’s one species that can actually change the shape of their bodies. This is the mimic octopus, and it can assume just about any shape it wants. Some can turn themselves into shrimp, while others turn themselves into sea snakes, crabs, and even jelly fish.

I kind of wish I could do that. I think it would be quite useful especially when getting into a movie theatre or a restaurant that gives children half price. I could save a lot of money, and I bet you would too. Besides the practical aspect of changing my appearance, I think of all the fun I could have by turning into a dog and whizzing on my neighbor’s lawn as payback for all the years I put up with her feeding feral cats.

I don’t mean to seem irreverent, but I bet President Trump would make a great octopus. He could hold a comb in each of his six arms and rake through that coiffure of his while tweeting with two phones at the same time.

Of course, not all octopus are good. There’s one in the warm waters of the South Pacific called the blue ringed octopus. This guy is one of the deadliest creatures in the sea with enough venom to kill a couple dozen men. Its bite can kill within minutes. Fortunately, it likes to be left alone and will only attack if threatened.

Now that I scared the hell out of you, let me leave you with a couple of amusing riddles.

Why did the nervous octopus pace the ocean floor?

His wife was having a baby and he needed something to octopi his mind.

How did the liquor store owner describe the octopus who held him up?

He told police that he was well-armed.

I’d like to share a lot more about the octopus here, but space is limited. However, you can read a lot more about them and other creatures of the sea in my book Uncommon Mariners. Just look for the chapter Mother Ocean and her Children when the book comes out.

When World Octopus Day rolls around, arm yourself with a knife in one hand, a fork in the other, and a six-pack of beer in the other six and chill out. And just be glad you’re not on the menu at the Grand China Buffet.

                                                 Bill Hegerich

                                                The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2017/10/06/world-octopus-day/

Buried Treasure

 

Treasure Chests come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. What does yours look like?

Treasure Chests come in an assortment of shapes and sizes. What does yours look like?

When I was a kid, I remember a small tin chest not more than four inches wide and a couple inches high. It was shaped like a pirate’s chest with a sturdy metal handle on the top and a hole underneath large enough to slip coins into. The metallic blacks, blues, and browns beckoned this six-year old to a fascinating world of pirates with Captain Kidd’s own name inscribed on the front of the chest.

Looking back, a pirate bank seems counterintuitive. Pirates were the last ones you’d expect to save money though Henry Morgan did and purchased several estates in Jamaica. Not bad for a pirate, mon!

I guess there was more pirate in that six-year old than I realized. I never managed to save more than a few coins at a time, and while rum and wenches didn’t call my name, packages of baseball cards with bubblegum inside did. I can think of a whole lot of pirates that would be proud of me because of my spendthrift ways.

Our piggy banks have changed over the years. There’s still the common pig- mostly see-through glass or plaster of Paris. I have two myself; one large and one small, both are painted blue.

I don’t know if kids still use piggy banks these days. From the looks of the shelves in the dollar stores, there seems to be one for every kid in America with plenty to spare.

But somehow I think most kids and their parents have grown too sophisticated for them. Now there are gift cards in denominations of twenty to a hundred dollars, and it’s not much fun to stare at a gift card lying indolently at the bottom of a piggy bank. It is fun, however, to see a few single coins grow from a tiny miniscule lump to an impressive mountain of change.

I never took a poll, but had I asked the hundreds of buccaneers and pirates that sailed the Seven Seas, I bet my best tricorn hat that ninety-nine percent of them would laugh at me if I asked if they ever buried treasure. “You think wenches and rum come free, you bloat?” they’d likely sneer.

Still I can’t help but think of Henry Morgan who actually buried the treasure he stole at Nombre de Dios. Spanish ships chased his ships away while he was off plundering in the jungles of Central America. When he discovered his predicament, he hastily buried the booty then rowed several hours till he caught up with his ships.

My wife never had that problem, but she does keep her treasure in a chest of sorts. I’d use the word booty, but some you with lurid minds would get the wrong idea. Her booty is in a tall glass jar, not something you could bury very easily. She often wonders why it doesn’t fill up faster till I remind her that if she didn’t plunder it as fast as Henry Morgan raided the Spanish Main, it might be brimming over.

While few pirates ever buried their treasure, I can assure you there were some. Even today part of William Kidd’s treasure is still the target of many a treasure hunt. And that’s a good thing because my grandchildren Luke and Nora buried treasure in my garden last year. We drew a pirate map up to make sure it was official.

I’m taking an informal poll, and I’d like to ask you two questions. Have you ever buried treasure? Hiding money under a rug or in a book counts! At the very least, do you have a piggy bank or chest where you store extra booty.

You’ll have to excuse me, but I hear someone digging out back. It might be a neighbor or it might be a professional treasure hunter. Word gets around.  I’ve got to grab my tricorn hat and sword and check it out. I’ll be back next week.

In the meantime, if you want to read a little more about treasure, you might enjoy reading “What’s in Your Treasure Chest?” Find it at  https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/whats-in-your-treasure-chest/                                    .

                Bill Hegerich

               The Uncommon Mariner

 

If you’d like to respond, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/buried-treasure/