story was published in Yachting Monthly in May,
1984 under "The Confessional" (p90) and
shows what disrespect children sometimes have for
The upside was that I received this sketch from
the YM artist, Peyton.
It was when making
the Indian Ocean passage from Singapore to the Red Sea
in February 1982 with my wife and two teenage boys that
I became aware of an undercurrent of humor aboard decidedly
at the skipper’s expense.
Our yacht is a 46ft cutter, speedy and indeed luxuriously
appointed but suffering one small defect. While there is
no doubt that the Taiwanese builder felt exceedingly generous
in including a 6ft berth in the after cabin, the question
remains - which way around does the average 6ft 3” Australian
skipper sleep? In my book, he has little choice but to
rest with his head aft under the low deckhead, allowing
his feet to arch gracefully into the space at the end.
So far, no problem, I can wrap them up in cold climates
- and there is even the bonus of leaving one’s boots on
between watches. But… stand by for the real catastrophe
in the shape of the two teenage crew.
Under ship’s orders, all crew shall wake the skipper
just prior to any imminent disaster. My understanding wife
has learnt to whisper, ‘Darling we have a ship to port,’
and I am able to slip from berth gently without so much as
touching the deck head 30” above to observe the ship.
My two teenage sons, however, have taken to calling, ‘Dad,
Dad!’ in a most urgent manner. The resultant mirth
at seeing their father sit bolt upright, only to bounce
back to the horizontal after painful head contact with
the deck head, can only be described as disrespectful.
It is perplexing problem and, not being given to discouraging
my youthful crew, I have taken to wearing a crash helmet to
bed while awaiting a better solution.