Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The Tale of the Naked Sailors or "The Elephant in the Anchorage"

As many stories are told on this blog, there are countless more that go untold. Sometimes its due to a lack of time, sometimes it's because I don't find what happened particularly interesting, and sometimes it's because the situation is so awkward and the cruising world so small, that I need a little distance from the occurrence in order to feel okay writing about it. Alright, maybe that's only this one story. While that awkward feeling I felt so many months ago still manifests itself in a visibly pained expression on my face every time I think of it, my psyche has healed and the vision of random male genitalia that was once emblazoned into my mind has (finally) fogged and crazed like aged eisenglass. Thank God.

And so I bring you the tale of the Naked Sailors, or "The Elephant in the Anchorage":
(All details - like boat names [even though I couldn't remember them if I had a gun to my head] and islands - will be omitted to protect the nude)

Nudity is simply part of living on a boat in tropical climates. It's hot. Really hot. Air conditioning is a luxury very few cruising boats can afford so staying cool becomes a sort of obsession at times. Wearing actual clothes becomes burdensome and, unless we go ashore, underwear or bathing suits became the standard uniform for no other reason than to avoid adding more sweaty clothes to the laundry pile. It is not unusual in the slightest to catch a glimpse of your neighbor tactfully bathing naked off the back of their boat or to see a pair of boobs sunning themselves on the deck of a passing boat. Let the record show I have no problem with this type of nudity and I fancy myself significantly less "Puritan" and a little more "Hedonist" than my American roots might suggest. I mean, there was group skinny dipping each night of mine and Scott's wedding weekend and I've been to a healthy number of full moon parties in my day that could only be described as "bohemian".  That said, when the spirit of nudity borders on intimidating, well...that's something else entirely.

But I am getting ahead of myself...

We, along with our buddy boat, were pulling into a new anchorage that promised an uninhabited island, good holding and little to no swell. Neither we nor our friends had been to this anchorage before, and we were excited at the prospect of a new place. As we approached we noted that two other boats had lay anchor before us. No big deal. We readied our boat for our arrival by dropping sails, securing Isla and prepping the anchor. Scott took his position at the helm, I took mine on the bow. As we approached, I grabbed our binoculars to scope out a good spot.  Imagine what happened next like a scene in a movie:
(Fade in)
Scene: Caribbean Island. High noon.
{Wide shot: Girl on bow of boat approaching beautiful uninhabited island with binoculars around her neck}. 
Girl brings binoculars to her head.
{Cut to: Shot from the vantage point from the binoculars}
Girl begins scanning the horizon from left to right slowly. First, the view is of the ocean - and then, slowly, the edge of the anchorage and finally, the land with the anchorage in the fore-shot. A seagull flies into and out of view. Another anchored boat enters the shot as the camera continues to pan. Slowly, we see the stern and then a naked man standing on the starboard rail with his hands on his hips looking directly at binoculars, appearing thoroughly displeased} Cue sound: RECORD SCRATCHING. 
I repeat: Hands on hips. Staring at us. Completely naked.

At this point, we were approaching pretty closely - close enough for a good arm to throw a baseball from one boat to the other - and, as close as we were, most boats would give a passing wave, a friendly "hello" to the neighbor boat.  This is also the last acceptable point where most people in their birthday suits might take cover in the form of a towel or sarong, or perhaps a bold few might just turn around or hop into the cockpit so as not to show the "full monty". But not this guy. Nope. He kept his body perfectly square with our bow, hands firmly planted on his hips to almost accentuate his nakedness. Needless to say, I did not wave hello. I just awkwardly pretended not to see the 45 foot boat right in front of me whose captain was in the buff, staring me down. Being the more easily intimidated of our duo, I made a quick visit to Scott at the helm and hurriedly whispered, "Um...this guy up here is totally naked and does not look thrilled at the prospect of our anchoring near him".  Scott's feathers do not ruffle easily and his matter-of-fact reply was, "I don't care if he's naked. He doesn't own this place. We're going to anchor where we anchor and he's just going to have to deal with that". I groaned and walked back up to the bow: "Oh hi. Ohmygosh, where did you come from?!...Oh, hey! You're naked? I hadn't noticed". Riiiight.

By now we were close enough to have a conversation over the water and he was still standing in all his full-frontal glory seemingly trying to make eye contact with me. I pretended not to notice, tried not to meet his eyes with mine but there was no denying the fact that this man was aggressively displaying his birthday suit with (as far as I can surmise) the intention to intimidate us out of the anchorage or, at the very least, prevent us from anchoring near him. Unfortunately, the anchorage was only so big so this was kind of impossible. We were gonna be neighbors for the night. Oh joy.

While I lowered our anchor and Scott began backing down, the man - we'll call him "Buff", made a move - still completely naked, mind you - into his dinghy. I remained on the bow of our boat as we settled into place (as one does when they anchor) and saw out of the corner of my eye Buff approach the stern of boat #2 which was about six boat lengths to our starboard.  "What's he doing?" I wondered to myself when out of the second boat ambled another man also naked. WHAT the HELL!?!? From my periphery, I could see the two were having a conversation - probably bemoaning our arrival - completely naked.

And *this* is where this whole scenario got super weird interesting to me.

I mean, sure, the aggressive "in your face" nudity by "Buff" was a tad unnerving, but the communal nudity between two presumably married men (each boat did have a woman on board)...Now that raised some questions...

Questions like: how do two boats get to the point where they can be so comfortable to be naked together? And in front of others, no less? Did they meet on a secret "cruise naked" website? Were they swingers? Nudists? Did they all drink too much one night and decide to hell with their clothes? Was it some sort of tactic to ensure privacy in what can otherwise be crowded waters? Had they entered into some sort of bizarre "who can have the fewest tan lines" contest? Furthermore, did the group nudity ever come up between them all - like at dinner? "Isn't it great that we can all sit around naked together! Clothed folks don't know what they're missing!" or "You guys, I'm so glad we all decided to go nude - those bathing suits were so dang itchy!" or "Hey, would you all mind if I wear some boxers tomorrow, I got a little too much sun yesterday." I mean, what are the events that lead up to nude buddy-boating?! Inquiring minds wanted to know.

Obviously, we never did find out the back story. We left the next morning just as the gentleman from boat "B" was bending over, naked, tinkering/cleaning/fixing something or another on deck. It was a whole new kind of sunrise for all of us, and we opted to ignore the elephant in the anchorage and move on shortly after.

Wearing clothes.

Some people drop anchor, others drop trou. To each his own in this great world!

15 comments:

JP said...

I love the fact that you called him Buff.

Was there a national flag anywhere? It reminded me of sailing in the Canary islands when we headed into one of the marina's shower block for an end to the day refresh to hear voices from two German men sharing a shower stall. We left them to it!

Astrolabe Sailing said...

Ha haaaa! OMG I can totally understand why you were feeling uncomfortable!

MaƱana said...

Bwahahaha! We have a few similar stories, but the nekkid buddy boat takes the cake :) My eyes have been scarred for life, too...

Anonymous said...

You really might have asked him...er Mr. buff about it- he and his boating buddy's nudity that is, instead of letting the unsettling imagery infest your cruising memory bank for so long. I got used to nudity in California, and believe me it does see some getting used to, and from then on it becomes the most natural thing in the world. The freedom of swimming in the ocean at nude beaches, even among strangers, can become strangely addictive and blissfully enjoyable, something you are obviously also aware.

I bet if you had simply spoken to all over tan and his sailing cohorts, you might have struck up an interesting friendship there in that beautiful isolated anchorage, and not be writing after recovery from visual trauma :), so long after the fact. Of course, I was not there, and may be completely out of line in this assertion. I don't know. I just don't think of naked people as threatening. Whatever they have on them, is indeed all out there to see.

Windtraveler said...

@Anonymous - I guess my saying I was scarred was *slightly* melodramatic and a little more for comedic effect than anything. I totally hear you though and perhaps we should have said something (but not sure if I could just walk up to a naked stranger and introduce myself, to be honest, so perhaps I'm more of a prude than I think!). Nudity hardly bothers me and I can totally appreciate people who enjoy being naked (my husband is one such person - he would be naked 24/7 if he could be!)...what was odd was that he was clearly trying to intimidate us - and also the fact that these people were NOT at a nude beach or colony - and for them to carry on as if they were was just...odd...to me. I totally get the freeing and, possibly addicting, aspect of being naked in nature though ;)

Windtraveler said...

I might add - I don't think nudity is threatening, but if you are staring me down with your hands on your hips (a pretty aggressive stance according to body language experts -see above: "bitch wings") - THAT was the "threatening" or, as I said, intimidating part, not the nudity itself. Just want to make sure I'm clear ")

Mr Standby said...

oh man I have some hilarious public nudity stories that you would get a kick out of. However, I'll refrain from sharing those in the very public comments section. Buuutt since we live in New Orleans...believe me when I say there is definitely a difference between the "Oh hey buddy, must be super casual day at the office again HIGH FIVE!" type of nudity and the "You're right... we should have knocked or called or fired off a flare before opening the door" type of nudity.

I think I'm with Scott though...who's gonna care about my butt hanging out ...the fish? pssh whateve's

great story Brit! glad you've mustered the energy to get some writing done. Sometime's is so hard to just bring yourself to to sit and write when all you want to do is nap..but the nagging sense that the stories must be told (especially as they stack up) is just as intense. good on ya!

Jean Baardsen said...

We anchored once at the island of Ios in Greece. We wanted to swim ashore, but first we looked through the binoculars. Everyone on the beach was naked. So we took off our clothes and swam in naked, and hung out on the beach for a couple hours. Had I seen your fellow when we were anchoring, I probably would have grinned at him and said something like "NICE"! Kind of miss those days....

paul shard said...

Very fun article Brittany! You are right that as cruisers we will need to "confront" the nudity issue (except while we cruised in Scotland and Norway one summer :-)

We actually filmed a "Nudity" episode of Distant Shores back in our first season. Sailing in the hedonistic Balearic Islands of Spain. Very fun, and ended in a mudbath... The show was quite popular but was banned in some of our Middle Eastern countries from broadcast in the Travel Channel.

Windtraveler said...

@Jean - so fun! If we had seen a nude beach, for SURE Scott would have gone. I probably would have needed some coercing (aka alchohol) to actually take of my bottoms in broad daylight and feel comfortable, but - like I said - nudity in the right place and in the right spirit is no problem for either of us.
@Paul - I love it!! Haha!! Banned - you guys rock. I wanna catch that episode as I am a big fan of hedonism ;)! Hope all is well with you two!

Evan & Debra said...

Definitely not swingers. Swingers LIKE clothing...adds to the anticipation. ;-)
Great story! We can't wait to experience life's little quirks from the deck of our boat. Hedonists that we are...

JP said...

A possible explanation from Buff:
http://captainjpslog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/buff-gets-naked.html

Anonymous said...

Next time, have Scott strip naked and pee over the side. That will shut them up.

middlebaysailing said...

". . . whole new kind of sunrise. . ." makes me want to put a lens cap in my mind's eye. Funny story, though. Not sure what I would do were I in your place.

Kristen Miller said...

ha ha! This made me laugh out loud. :)
And it also reminds me of the guy we saw grilling hotdogs off the back of his boat, in the nude. We came up with endless jokes about grilling weiners...:)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...