Friday, December 16, 2011

Bear Spray. Or is it Pirate Spray?

Funny story for you...
The other night, as I was sleeping in the boat alone - I got to thinking; "Jeeze, what if someone comes aboard and tries to rob me, or worse, while Scott is gone?"  I know, pretty morbid and not the most comforting of thoughts for a 6 month pregnant lady who's husband is away for a week at a time.

But then I remembered the bear spray right by the bed.  That's right.  Bear spray.

Or should I call it Pirate Spray?

If you are anything like me (someone who grew up near a city completely devoid of bears and who's idea of camping is packing a cooler full of booze and going to a clearing near a concert venue) you probably don't know what "bear spray" is.  I didn't.  Well, you remember that little thing of mace that your dad gave you before you left for college that hung on your key chain?  It's kind of like that - only it's about as big as an air-horn.  Because it's meant for, you know, 500-pound bears.

Anywho...back to the story of how this "Pirate Spray" came to be...

Back when we left Chicago - "pirates" were all the rage.  I don't mean to be flippant, because it's a very serious subject, but there had been some recent high profile attacks and everyone and his brother wanted to know how we were going to deal with them since, according to landlubbers who didn't know any better, the world was being overtaken by pirates much in the same way Michigan is being overtaken by deer.  I was even contacted by the Wall Street Journal to give a sound byte for an article they were writing on the subject (I was not quoted).  Scott and I just sort of laughed off the thought of "piracy" knowing that Somali-style attacks are not happening in the Bahamas or anywhere we were headed in the next year or so.  (Not yet, anyway).  We had, however, heard of minor incidents in places like Puerto Rico and the Caribbean (again, not approach-your-boat-in-high-speed-vessels-with-uzi's-while-high-on-qat-style, but boardings and robberies; petty theft mostly).  Scott, ever the pro-active hubby, decided to take matters into his own hands and get prepared for combat, should the need arise.

Have you ever been to Charleston, SC?  It's a lovely, idyllic place.  I actually think I could live there, but that is besides the point.  It's got cobblestone streets, fine dining, chic boutiques, a distinctly European feel, a nice little college campus nuzzled right smack in the middle and it's the kind of place you might call "precious".  It reminded me of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago all rolled into one minus the stab-your-eye-out winter.  It is NOT the sort of place where people talk much about, or know anything about, pirates.  Unless, of course, you are referring to the Johnny Depp variety. This is an important factoid...

So...Scott and I go into a yuppy-style "outdoor outfitting" store (because we love those types of stores) just to peruse cool things like designer Nalgene bottles, fluffy Patagonia zip-ups and any other neat trinket we might find.  We both find ourselves upstairs.  I, of course, am eyeballing some cute "convertible and practical" skirt that costs $100, and Scott - I note - is eyeing the camping section, rather intently, I might add.  I go back to contemplating my skirt (did not buy it) when I hear this little gem of conversation happen, pretty much verbatim:

[Enter preppy, good looking nineteen year old shop clerk who is wearing "outdoorsy" clothes, but with the collar popped and way too much hair product to be taken seriously as an "outdoorsman"].

Preppy college clerk: Hey man, can I help you find anything?
Scott:  [now holding something and studying it, again, rather intently] Um...yeah. Sure.[pause as he reads the label on whatever it is he is holding]. Actually, do you know if this stuff works?
PCC: [leans in inquisitively to see what Scott is holding, cocks his head slightly to the side as if to ponder if he's ever used it or known anyone who has, the answers to both, of course, are a resounding 'no'] Uhhhhh...bear spray?
Scott:[looking up, hopeful] Yeah.
PCC: Uhhhh...[he grabs another can off the dusty shelf and examines the label also]I think so...[he continues to study the canister, like a good PCC shop clerk does].
Scott: [sensing this kid isn't entirely sure what he's talking about and wanting to clarify a few things for him, he lets out a small 'knowing' chuckle] I don't mean on bears...I mean, do you think this would work on people?

(At this point I now know where this is going, and instead of swooping in to save ourselves from looking like complete arse-holes, I stand there, much like one of those Michigan deer in headlights, holding the skirt limply while silently mouthing the word 'no'...)

PCC: [kid reacts by pulling his head back quickly, his face contorts in confusion] People??? [Now totally aware that he is in over his head] Uhhhh...[he looks again at the label, unsure if he should check with a manager]...well, it is meant for bears so...[he shrugs and trails off].
Scott: [letting out another chuckle because he realizes how this sounds]  I don't mean regular people, I'm talking about pirates.  Do you think this would work on pirates? [NOT realizing how this sounds].
PCC: [backing away a tad - now a look of total, utter confusion washes over his already perplexed face.  He wonders for a second; "Am I being Punk'd"].  Ummmmm...wow...uhhhhh...I guess so?
Scott: Great, I'll take it.

And it is this precise moment when I burst out laughing.  Right then and there in the store.  Like, the kind of laughter where you crouch over yourself and almost have to fall to your knees because you think you might wet your pants.  Scott looks at me like I am crazy.  Like that conversation he had was totally normal.  Oh, how I love that man.

Pirates.

So...yeah.  There it is.  Some college kid in Charleston out there is probably recounting this exact same story during kegger parties about the two crazy people who came into his store last year looking for "pirate spray".  God love it. "I mean, dude...the guy actually said 'Will it work on pirates' and I was all, 'I dunno, I guess so!'" (boisterous, drunken laughter).

For the record, I am glad we have it and it actually is a good thing to have aboard if you don't "carry" (a gun) which we do not and will not (Scott read about pirate bear spray on several forums apparently).

For the record, I also sleep with a machete under the pillow while Scott is gone and I have been known crack open a coconut like a ninja with the thing in two fell swoops.
Truth.

16 comments:

Jan & David said...

Of course, if you ever have reason to USE your "pirate" spray, make SURE it's with the wind and not against the wind! :) Friends used it inside the boat to scare off intruders -- same as you, bearspray close to the bed. The intruders left sputtering, thank goodness, and they spent the next week cleaning the inside of the boat.

Dean said...

We also have been reading that WASP & HORNET spray works very well! It will shoot up to 25 feet and if you aim for the face they will not be able to see! So we have all three on our boat! Bear spray, wasp & hornet spray, and a very large knife!

Paul said...

Good stuff and very entertaining. Got a laugh and could see the same sort of conversation taking place in my world. Seems like a normal conversation to me, ha!
Just recently read about the bear spray so this blog was very relevant to me. I have a concealed handgun license (not to be found in Illinois unless you have a badge to go with it) and know how to use it proficiently but have read so much about the hassle of having one on board that I am thinking they will stay in the gun safe. I wonder if bear spray would work on rowdy children or would that be cub spray?

Anonymous said...

I'm most certainly no expert in the matter, but my understanding is that if you let loose with that stuff in an enclosed space, you'll disable yourself as much as the attacker. Might want to add a pair of goggles and a face mask like you wear when spray painting...

Lisa Hanneman said...

Laughing so hard right now. You can hear me, can't you?

This is one of those stories that I'm going to keep thinking of randomly and burst into laughter at random times. You know what I'm talking about.

Serah said...

Thanks for the great story. When I got to the part about you laughing, I was laughing loudly here at work :)

We live in black bear territory, and travel in Grizzly territory. (my dad was charged by a grizzly as he came ashore in his dinghy!) I spent many years backpacking in the woods here on the West Coast, and carried bear spray, though I never had to use it. Friends have though, and say it is effective... when you surprise a bear.

When living and working abroad, my supervisor recommended that I carry pepper spray. One night, I decided to test it with a friend (safely, and downwind of course) I got just the tiniest bit on the tip of my finger, and promptly wiped it off. A half hour later, I touched the corner of my eye and instantly, my eye swelled up, tears profusely running down my face and I couldn't see out of that eye. Such pain from such a small dose. I couldn't actually imagine being sprayed directly.

We will likely choose the same route as you and Scott, and keep bear spray aboard, though I would be most loathe to use it indoors after my little incident. I would be just as disable as my "assailant" and would be hard pressed to justify that, as chances are that he/she was likely just looking to steal a camera or such.

Love the blog! Keep it up!

Windtraveler said...

Thanks for the comments all! Glad you enjoyed...

And yes, I am aware that this is probably not the best thing to spray indoors.

And yes, I am also aware that spraying this while upwind would be counter-productive.

But thank you for the reminder.

I actually have been in a room where a *spritz* of mace was detonated and, in an instant, we all had to evacuate; sputtering, coughing and pawing at our eyes while screaming "we can't see!!" This was back in high school but I remember it like it was yesterday. Nutso.

Here's hoping I never have to use it!! :)

Sharon Fellows Larrison Stepniewski said...

Ha! LOVE this one! LOVE all your blogs, but this is so funny - I can just visualize you both! My wasp spray will have to do, since I can't get BEAR spray down here! Miss you guys! Sharon aboard Finally Fun

Brittany Outlaw said...

I just want to move to Charleston now...

Anonymous said...

Now THAT was funny!!!

Kristi in LV

cwyckham said...

There are two issues with bear spray. One, as outlined above, is the danger to the user in small spaces. The other is legality in various countries.

Pepper spray is illegal for civilians to carry in many countries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper_spray#Legality), and may be illegal to import even in countries where it's legal to have.

Other options such as chemical sprays with obvious household uses (oven cleaner, wasp and hornet spray) may be a better option. At the very least, do your homework, country by country, as you travel.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

LOL! I can imagine that guy thought ya'll were nuts! I've had quite a few people tell me that hornet spray is a great weapon too!

ParadisePArrot said...

Your going to shoot Somilian's with ak 47's and 50 cal's with bear spray?


Tess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Windtraveler said...

@Paradise parrot - details my friend. Details...Somali pirates are in SOMALIA. We have no intention of going there, as I clearly stated.

Hendrik van dok said...

LOVE your blog!
And am sure the PCC got so scared that he left his job and is now working at West Marine...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...