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Running In Fog

Jul 23, 201311:26 AM

Running In Fog: HeartLand Boating Humor

Ahoy Matey, and All that Stuff

Pirate overboard

Everybody has a hobby. We all know folks who collect stuff. I have friends who collect such diverse things as cars, buttons and orchids. I have other friends whose hobbies are doing stuff. Some of them ride bikes, some of them cook, some of them break boards with their hands or feet.

Often times, hobbies come with issues. If you collect cars, where do you park them? Buttons, how do you organize your collection? If you love to bake, do you also need to love to jog to work off the calories? If you break boards, do you also need to collect ice cubes or Ben-Gay?

But some folks go a wee bit overboard with their hobbies, don’t you think? I mean, it is a hobby, so it should be a source or pleasure and relaxation. But it’s easy to slip into overboard-land. An example: Let’s just say you collect pretty pebbles. Having pretty pebbles in a jar on the windowsill may look lovely when the sun shines. So, having two jars of pebbles, you think, will look even better. Well, if two jars are better, then seven must be extraordinary. And you like having jars of pebbles in the kitchen, but why not in the other rooms, too? Now you’re spending all of your time looking for pretty pebbles, but that isn’t going fast enough, so now you have boulders delivered to your backyard to make your own pebbles. See where I’m going?

Yeah, well, I met this guy named Rudy. His hobby is pirates. I’m not just talking about Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl. I’m talking about Redbeard, Bluebeard, Blackbeard, Purplebeard - all of those guys that roamed the seven seas 200 years ago. He wore a patch over one eye, but he kept switching it from left to right.

Why pirates? I asked him that question because, in my mind, pirates were rude and nasty and drunk and had very short fuses. Rudy said yes, pirates were all of those things, but, man, could they sail! They could take a piece-of-trash boat, fix it up while under way and turn her into a man-of-war flying the skull and crossbones. They had a leader, and most of the time they trusted that leader because that leader was battle-tested, weather-tested and seaworthy. Their leaders were only in charge so long as they were effective leaders. After that, it was Davy Jones’ Locker.

OK, while I wasn’t entirely in agreement with Rudy, his enthusiasm was catching. He started out reading books about pirates and watching the old movies which, he said, "romanticized the heck outta them." They were the bad guys who got the girl, but only if they wanted the girl. Usually, the girl was left on the shore, heartbroken with a ruined reputation. After all, it was bad luck to have a girl on a pirate vessel.

After reading and watching, he began to research the geography. "Pirates were everywhere, so I started going everywhere, checking out the lay of the coastline, the shoals, the way the breakers came to shore, the fresh water supplies. It became an obsession."

It became such an obsession that he built a pirate vessel. I asked the obvious question: How do you build a pirate vessel?

Recipe for a Pirate Vessel (according to Rudy):

1.     Get an old trawler and strip it down. Keep only "the stuff below the waterline."

2.     Use new wood treated to look old to rebuild. Use old, beat-up wood wherever possible to give it that "authentic" look.

3.     Pirates didn’t have running water or electricity...forget authenticity for now because it’s stupid to be below deck in the dark and smelly to stay aboard without fresh water. In fact, load her up with "mod-cons," so you can run safely and comfortably in all weather.

4.     Flying a skull and crossbones in jest is just fine, but keep the flag kind of small, so you do not scare people.

5.     Always leave time for photos, because people will want to take them and ask questions.

6.     Under no circumstances should you take said vessel into international waters. People do think it’s the real thing upon first sighting.

7.     No real cannons. Absolutely no real cannons. They weigh too much. Mount water cannons instead.

That’s it. Easy as 1, 2, 3. Rudy said it would be great fun to have a fleet of pirate ships, as long as one of them is not the Flying Dutchman.

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About This Blog

Pam McDanolds has been writing "Running In Fog," a humorous look at our favorite pastime, since 2007. In her family are two kids, a black lab named Captain Nemo, a powerboat and a sailboat. Illustrations by John R. "Jack" Cassady.

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