Sunday, February 18, 2018


March 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 


Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 4.35.41 PMWe’ve all been there. Something happens, and everyone onboard or on the dock laughs. Everyone, that is, but you! It may take you a few years to find the humor in a mishap or a misstep, but now you can tell the story and smile.

I asked our readers if they had any chuckle-worthy cruising and snicker-worthy sailing stories to share, and they sure did. Who knew there were so many amusing sea tales?

Jimmy’s family never lets him forget the time when they stopped for gas at a marina and everyone got off the boat. “I stayed by the pumps, but my wife and kids went into the marina store. When we filled up, I called that we were ready to go and I swear that I saw my wife get back onboard. Apparently I didn’t, because as we are pulling away from the dock, I hear her clear as a bell screeching ‘Jiiimmmmmmyyy!’ while my kids are laughing hysterically, saying, ‘You’re in trouble, you’re in trouble!’”

Hank has a whopper of a story. “I had my boat, a 17-foot wooden Lyman, tied to a floating dock in Stony Brook. The engine was running and I stepped out of the boat for a second to adjust the lines. For some reason the engine slipped into gear and strained against the cleat. The line held but the cleat broke, and off went the boat across the inlet and into a marsh on the other side. Thinking it was stuck in the grass, I asked someone to take me across to it. Just then the boat came out of the grass and started, now on a course that would take it along the dock. I got on the dock; as the boat passed, I jumped aboard. But there was only one problem: I went through the hull! As I was dragging my feet along the bottom, that directed the boat to the shore alongside the dock. It promptly sank, with me standing in the center!”

Carol and Bruce invited friends to have lunch with them aboard their boat. They cruised for an hour or so, and then Carol started setting out the elaborate lunch she had prepared very early that morning. “I must have been half-asleep while I packed everything up. I made pasta and seafood salads and a red velvet cake, but I brought nothing to serve it on or eat it with. I left all the plates, cups, and utensils at home on the kitchen table!”

A boater who wishes to stay anonymous wrote, “It was a hot day and I think everyone in Zach’s Bay was swimming. So I did my best Olympic dive over the side and got lots of cheers. The water felt so good until I realized I was feeling way too much, because my swim trunks had split away from the elastic waist and disappeared!”

Brian shares an amusing childhood memory. “My father bought his sailboat in 1968.  Neither he nor anyone else in the family had ever sailed before.  Dad read a book or two on the subject and off we went.  We raised the sails without a problem and set off from the mooring.  Things were going well when we suddenly found ourselves in a situation (I wish I could remember what) he had not studied.  Anyway, what I do remember is dad feverishly paging through the book looking for what to do next.”

JC shared a boat with a pal many years ago. “I was sorry that I put my friend in charge of snacks the time we both brought our new girl friends on the boat. He hauled out a huge knife and started hacking up a pineapple. He cut his finger, cursed, and tossed the knife away as he ran for the first aid kit. There was blood on the carpet, a big tear in the cushion from the knife, and so much screaming that two passing kayakers were calling out to see if we were OK.” So why is this a funny story? “His girlfriend dumped him at the dock but mine later married me.”

Nancy knows that others have done exactly what she did, but none of them have done it in front of her family. “I was backing the SUV up so that my husband could put the boat back on the trailer. He’s yelling for me to give it a little gas, but I guess I gave it way too much. My kids say they never saw their dad jump so high and so fast to get out of the way!”

There are exceptions to my theory that everyone eventually laughs at their own mishaps. Angelo still doesn’t think it’s funny that he swallowed a “huge” fly while shouting that his kids weren’t doing enough to help him grab the mooring. However, I’m told that his kids roar with laughter every time they share the story!

By Lita Smith-Mines

webPlus_web_green1 Barbara J. Hart, author of Harts at Sea – Sailing to Windward, shares a funny story exclusively for our readers.

How I Learned to Jibe the Boom

By Barbara J. Hart

S/V La Luna

Twenty-five years ago I married a sailor named Stew and learned how to jibe a boom on our honeymoon.

Having grown up in central Maine, enjoying summers on lakes and ponds, I’d never sailed and never been on the ocean in a small boat. Shortly after moving south to Portland, I met the sailor who became my husband. On our third date Stew looked deep into my eyes and stated, “I sail and all of my friends sail.” I said, “I’m sure I could learn.”

Stew had great friends (now our great friends) who own a Hinckley Competition 41.  As a wedding gift, they gave us a week on their boat for our honeymoon. We met them in Rockland in Penobscot Bay where Stew got reacquainted with the boat, and the next day we sailed away for seven days on the coast of Maine.

During our courtship, and very shortly after the “I sail and all of my friends sail” conversation, Stew had suggested that I take a Power Squadron navigating course.  I was quite good at it and that summer he rented a Cape Dory for a week and invited a friend to join us. I navigated and they sailed the boat. That was all of my sailing experience until our honeymoon.

During this fateful honeymoon, Stew didn’t always remember that I knew nothing about how the boat worked, so some of his commands and directions were lacking in detail. On the other hand, I was nervous about “that heeling thing” and absolutely refused to take the helm. When he needed to “go to the head” I offered to hold a bottle for him (that did not go over well at all). So for the entire trip, Stew captained and steered and I was inexperienced deck crew and outstanding navigator and cook.

We were heading into Frenchman’s Bay, going wing and wing in at least 20 knots of wind. I had successfully secured the boom with the finger-pinching preventer and gone down below to make lunch. Glancing out the galley port, I saw an island that was in the wrong spot and called up the companionway, “Where are you going?”  Stew said that he was going behind thus-and-so island. I told him that isn’t thus-and-so, it was such-and-such and that there was a sand bar behind it. “Then you need to get up here,” said Stew. “We’re going to have to jibe the boom. Do you want to take the wheel and the jib or do you want to handle the main?”

Well, I wasn’t going to drive the boat because I was afraid I’d tip it over, so I said I’d jibe the boom. I was going to have to release the finger-pinching preventer, jibe the boom and attach the preventer to the starboard side.  Stew said, “Look it’s very important that you control the jibe. You see that line going up and down from the cabin top to the boom? Take that line and pull it in as much as you can and when I say ‘Jibe Ho’ let it out gently. You are the brake. If the boom slams over it will take the rigging out and really damage the boat.” No pressure there, right?

So here’s the thing: I rarely paid attention in physics class.  Sailing is basically all physics. That line he was talking about was of course the main sheet and it goes “up and down” from cabin top to boom through a series of blocks or pulleys. Instead of grabbing one section of the line and using the pulleys to help me, I wrapped both hands around all of the up and down sections and pulled as hard as I could. I had no leverage at all and nothing seemed to be coming toward me, but I didn’t point this out.

This type of Hinckley has only one jib winch and it’s behind the wheel, so while Stew handled the jib line, he faced aft. I got the preventer off, and hauled on a bunch of main sheet. Stew turned the wheel, called “Jibe Ho” and concentrated on bringing the jib around. I held on for dear life as the boom carried me across the deck of the boat, bouncing the right side of my body on the cabin top, hand rails, and winches as I flew over them.  I’m tall enough (OK, big enough) that the boom stopped gently right where it was supposed to.  I was a good brake.

Stew had been facing aft during those seconds, releasing one jib sheet and securing the other on that single, large winch. Just as I stood, clutching the bouquet of main sheet, Stew secured the jib and, turned and exclaimed, “That was great!”

I said, “That hurt!”  He said, “You have to expect some discomfort when sailing.”  I said, “Discomfort, hell! Real people shouldn’t have to do that!”

We sailed a very short distance to clear the island and then had to jibe back on course. Stew offered to let me take the wheel and the jib, but I— proving either that I am a natural blond or a good sport– foolishly declined and went back to the mainsheet, where I again grabbed all of the lines going up and down from cabin top to boom.

Yes, I did the exact same thing as we jibed back. Only this time, Stew secured the jib more quickly and looked up as I was flying across the deck, feet pointing to starboard, bouncing the left side of my body across the cabin top and handrails and winch handles.  He roared, “What the hell are you doing?” I replied, “I’m jibing your gosh-darned boom!”

Stew later said that he had never seen anything like it. “She two-blocked the main sheet. She had no leverage at all. She was flying parallel to the deck!” When we told my parents this story, my mom (who adored Stew) said, “Jeez Barb, I grew up on a farm, I know what a pulley’s for!”

On our honeymoon, later that same afternoon, we tied up to the town dock at Sorrento behind another Hinckley Competition 41. The doctor who owned it was on board, tinkering and cleaning her, and he eagerly secured our lines. As we introduced ourselves and chatted a bit, the doctor clearly gave me the once over. When Stew took our garbage up to the barrel the doc leaned closer, looked deep into my eyes and asked, “Are you all right?” I looked at him blankly. His eyes dipped to my legs— both of which were breaking out in the most spectacular bruises you can imagine. “Seriously,” he said, “you say the word and I will get you safely away from him, right now!” Of course I just burst out laughing and as Stew came back we had to describe, for the first time, how I learned to jibe a boom.  

You can read more of Barb’s adventures at:



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