Taking Women through a Fog
In the early 2000's I was standing on a yacht club dock in Southport, Connecticut when a tired old seaman ushered me aside much like the repentant, unrelenting sailor in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. So suddenly corralled, I was held hostage by his salty story. His insistent account so captured my ear, I could not escape his telling. Where can anyone retreat when a total stranger regales his most self-revealing tale? Who does one share a most embarrassing confession? How does one repent for a mistake?
One autumn day some years past John X shared with me that he offered his beautiful 48' Beneteau sloop, Mystified, to a women's beginner's sailing class from a local yacht club. His invite was intended he insisted to introduce these ladies to a "big boat" sailing experience. And as he readily admitted as the experienced captain yacht owner, he wanted to show off his expertise and impress his passengers with his seamanship.
Anticipating a pleasant, carefree boating opportunity, these eight nymphs boarded his boat for a mild fall afternoon sail along Connecticut's scenic southern shore. A beautifully mild full-foliaged fall day unsuspecting day unveiled when some unexpected events made the afternoon most memorable.
Any experienced male boat owner/sailor with a captive audience of eight attentive, attractive, beginners aboard his seasoned yacht might be so inclined to regal his female guests with his nautical know-how, nomenclature and seafaring yarns. John X admitted he was one such skipper who felt It was his duty to help educate his captivated female crew so he launched into impressing them with his local knowledge of the Long Island Sound waters along the shores and waterways of Norwalk, CT.
With a light, yet steady southwesterly breeze, John X decided to raise his vessel's mainsail and unfurl his genoa for a leisurely sail. While showing off his knowledge, John X unceasingly waxed nautical for a goo d hour. As he regaled his passengers with his "most charmingly entertaining stories", he neglected to notice a fog bank surreptitiously surrounding his boat. Despite the misty shroud's thickening, he reassured all aboard that he knew these waters so well that there was nothing to worry about. He attempted to dismiss low clouds as an occasional phenomenon that all experienced sailors like him are familiar with. He announced and predicted the mist would lift and disappate soon as this type of weather happens from time to time. "Nothing to fret about," he reassured the women.
But with visibility closing in on zero, John X confessed to me that he became very worried as he had, in fact, lost his bearings. He confided in me that no matter what, he wasn't going to reveal any concern or show any signs of distress to the ladies. He admitted to me, "My foolish pride was at stake."
He chose to roll up Mystified's genoa to slow her forward progress down to a drift while he chose to maintain his mainsail so it appeared as if he knew what he was doing... so he thought in his mind. Still no one aboard could see much beyond their boat. The nearby coastline was now indistinquishable. So for a good hour he continued his banter with his tales and his charade of confidence. Deep down inside he was aching something awful, but still his pride and arrogance ruled and reigned his demeanor.
Finally, the mist began to life, and John X immediately announced that his boat was exactly where he thought it was supposed to be. In reality, John confessed, he had never been so unsure of his whereabouts as well as never been so relieved when the sun and wind finally cleared the coast.
Years later one of the women encountered John and recalled that foggy experience. She asked him if he had been in any way nervous during that misty afternoon sail with 8 women aboard his boat. Still, he could not admit he had been a bit worried.
The woman then exclaimed, "That's funny because we all thought you were quite nervous about the situation, but we remained calm because we didn't want to worry you further."
Whether John X was more "mistified" by the women or the fog still remains a mystery. Whether he still sails unaware into sneaky fogs or lives in a fog is unclear.
* "Mystified" wasn't really the boat's name, if you hadn't guessed. My choice of his boat was called poetic license.