Issue: December 2006
OFF THE CHARTS: Dear Santa . . .

by Wendy Mitman Clarke

This being the time of giving and (one hopes) receiving, I've been thinking about both in terms of the boating season just past, and I've come up with a little wish list.

Things I'd like to give:

To those powerboaters who act like they own the water and think all sailors are idiots: at least one summer at the helm of a sailboat. Perhaps if they took the time to know and understand how sailboats work (especially when under sail) they would be less inclined to blast by at warp speed within two boatlengths, wreaking temporary but nonetheless complete havoc onboard. Are you in that big of a hurry to get to the Crab Claw? It's a big Bay out there, guys. How about slowing down or giving everyone a little more room?

To sailors who think that slow boating is equivalent to responsible boating and think all powerboaters are rude, ignorant louts: at least one summer at the helm of a powerboat. Perhaps if they were cut off one too many times by sailors who believe they have immutable god-given right-of-way because their boat has a big stick and a top speed of eight knots, they would come to realize that the term "self-righteous" does not appear anywhere in Chapman's, and that rude goes both ways.

To anyone who exchanges pot roast recipes on channel 16, or says things like "Gotcher ears on?": at least one summer on radio duty at the nearest Coast Guard station, pulling double shifts on the Memorial Day, Labor Day and Fourth of July weekends.

For any boater who blithely drops the hook right on top of someone who got there first: mandatory anchoring etiquette classes, to be held in Des Moines every summer weekend. Do you do this sort of thing on land too? In parking lots do you leave an inch of space between your car and the next? In line at the post office do you stand so close to the next person that you can count his ear hairs? Is it some sort of early childhood abandonment pathology? If so, seek psychiatric help. Don't project with your windlass, please.  

Finally, for anyone who throws trash in the water or litters on the beach: a year of cleaning porta-pottys with a toothbrush, under the direction of a 280-pound hausfrau named Babette.

Now for things I'd like to receive:
More waves. The kind you get back when you wave at a passing boater, I mean. What, you're all too busy calling your brokers or instant-messaging some hottie you just met at Red Eye's? This isn't the Beltway, people. It's supposed to be fun. Waving is polite, and it reminds us we're all out here because we share a mutual love--whether we sail, water-ski, fish, cruise or paddle. Don't be scared to initiate, just throw it out there. Try a little royal wave first, if it makes you feel better.

Extra full moons. The way the calendar works around here you really have five, maybe six, shots at cruising under the full moon without parkas and earmuffs--and chances are half of them will be rained out. I'd like a few extras thrown in for weather delays.

A winning lottery ticket just before the fall boat shows begin.
A lawn boy, or, alternatively, more low-maintenance ground cover. Pachysandra would be fine.

Four days of boating per week, three days of work. This seems like a more appropriate ratio than the current two-to-five model.

Oh, and one more thing. Peace on Earth. And on the water too.