Monday, April 13, 2009

Exploring the Land Down Under

Ohmigod (as the young folk say). I finally got it.

I don't know much about ocean racing and cruising. My kind of sailing is the other end of the sport. I race a 14ft fiberglass slab round some buoys for a few hours, have a couple of beers afterwards with my mates, and then home for a hot shower and a delicious dinner with the beautiful Tillerwoman, and so to bed.

No, I don't know much about long ocean voyages, but how did I overlook this?

It dawned on me while I was researching what to write about Robin Knox-Johnston for the upcoming blog extravaganza of April 22 - Robin Knox-Johnston Day on the Web, April 22 being the 40th anniversary of the day when RKJ became the first human being in the history of the world to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world. I came across this account of an appearance by RKJ on the David Frost show in 1970.

On the David Frost television talk show one night early in 1970, there appeared as one of the guests a young bearded man of remarkable poise, engaging of personality, with a well-modulated British accent of the kind that seems to fascinate Americans. Unlike many of the tortured, self-righteous, bearded young dissidents of the period who populated this production, this one seemed almost disgustingly "normal" in political views and reaction to social stimuli. In fact, Mr. Frost had some difficulty keeping his guest's mind off one of the other guests a beautiful and voluptuous movie starlet.

What had he missed most, Frost asked, on his 313-day nonstop solo voyage around the world in Suhaili?

The young man leered at the other guest and replied: "What do
you think?"

Duh. Of course.

When you embark on one of these long ocean voyages you can take all the food you need; I assume you either take water or collect rain along the way; I guess you can stash a few bottles of your favorite tipple; and you can take some books to read and your favorite music. As long as you can cope with the occasional dismasting and icebergs and 40 foot waves, it's a breeze.

But no umm "female companionship" for 313 days? Geeze. That's real hardship. I'm sure Sir Robin did miss it. What are you supposed to do?

No, don't tell me.

Reid Stowe thought he had the solution when he set sail in the schooner Anne on April 21, 2007 with the intention of staying at sea without outside support for 1000 days. The 55-year-old Stowe took
25-year-old Soanya Ahmad with him as "first mate" (ho ho ho) on the voyage. Problem solved.

However Mr Stowe and Ms Ahmad seem to have overlooked a few critical issues in their ambitious plan...

  1. Birth control
  2. The average length of human gestation is 260 days (less than 1000 days)
  3. Morning sickness + sea sickness = not fun

So, after 306 days, Reid had to dump Soanya in Australia and carry on alone. Soanya subsequently gave birth to the couple's son in New York City on day 452.

Oh well. Nice try dude.

Then it dawned on me. I had been wondering why the peregrination known as the Volvo Ocean Race has so many "stopovers". This isn't so much a round the world race as a frolic from port to port to port to port to port.... 11 ports in all in fact. Cape Town. Singapore. Rio. Stockholm. etc. etc.

Then I realized. It's all about the nooky. It seems that these Volvo Ocean Racing dudes have pretty much every creature comfort on board except the one of which Sir Robin spoke. These poor sailors sometimes have to spend over 40 continuous days at sea without any you-know-what. Winston Churchill is famously supposed to have said that the only traditions of the Royal Navy are "rum, sodomy and the lash." But I suspect that the culture aboard a Volvo Open 70 is somewhat different from the good old days of the Royal Navy.

Isn't it obvious? These red-blooded young sea dogs need their "stopovers" for a bit of hokey-pokey in every port. I would.

So where are these little stud muffins headed next? Let's see.

OMG (as the young folk say). They are due to arrive in Boston in a couple of weeks.

So, all you good Catholic mothers and fathers of New England, watch out. The Volvo sailors are coming. Lock up your daughters... now. You have been warned.


Emily Titesphinker said...

My dear Mr. Tillerman,

Never have I been so scandalized by one of your postings. This is the type of thing one might expect to find on the web log of that horrid Mr. Rouse, but I have come to expect a finer sense of discretion from you. I am sorely disappointed in your choice of subject matter.

I do have a question for you, though. Do you know when those Volvo sailors will arrive in Boston?

Emily Titesphinker
Great Huffington, MA

Mal's Team Gherkin said...

That's all we're good for over here, you know! hahahaaa

Tillerman said...

Dear Ms Titesphinker, I am sorry to have offended your sensibilities but I felt the public needed to be warned about this issue. In answer to your question, the young men on the Volvo yachts are scheduled to arrive in Boston on April 27 according to the race website.

You may be interested to know that these lusty chappies already have a Facebook page for their stay in Boston at which it says, "Volunteers, as you might imagine, are needed in many areas, with significant needs shore side."

Good luck if you feel inclined to volunteer to satisfy some of their shore side needs.

whoknows said...

This reminds me of the famous unanswered question about single-handed sailors...

What do they do with their other hand?

Redwing said...

For three of my six years in the US Navy I served aboard a submarine that left home for 90 days at a time.

313 would be tough. But 40 days at sea. I can do that with one hand in my pocket.

Life on a sub was different than these racers have it. Maybe that's why they say that 160 sailors go down and 80 couples come up.

JP said...

Alas I fear Ms Titesphinker will be disappointed.

The first, second and third thing on the mind of most sailors on reaching port involves alcohol.

Especially on these Volvo boats that are alas dry (in one particular sense: obviously in another they are incredibly wet)

Joe said...

Emily have a cookie, you are not the first to call me horrid and you won't be the last. I at least live the life of a demented sailor drinking grog every night with buxom lasses who call me horsey. I should change that, they actually want to play horsey, but I won't go into that as I might upset your sensibilities.

Old thing, throw off your knickers, drink a pint or two and have fun with the Volvo seaman. I could say something crude here, but then I would be banned from the bar. Goodnight and sweet dreams.

Your obedient servant,
The Horrid Mr. Rouse

Joe said...

I was in the Navy for 8 years and I can tell you without a doubt the first thing on reaching port was not alcohol. There were large quantities of alcohol, but it was not the first thing on our brains. A hole in a bar of soap can only take you so far. Now I've done it! Horrid, horrid, horrid.

O Docker said...

I hope your choice of subject matter doesn't leave Emily too disappointed - or too sore.

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