Never a sailor man

shipI’VE NEVER BEEN on a sailboat.

Oh, I’ve stood on one tied to a dock in the same way I’ve been on a cruise ship tied to a dock in San Juan. But out on the open waters, sails deployed and speeding along?

I’ve never done that.

Strange, since I’ve been on planes — myself at the stick — motorcycles, hot-air balloons, gliders, cars, trucks, trains, buses, you name it, but never on a sailboat in spite of being raised in Florida.

SterlingThough I’ve never been on a sailboat, I have a favorite sailor: Sterling Hayden.

Hayden was a reluctant movie star, often broke, and a full-blown eccentric. He made movies entirely to finance his sailing. He became a movie star because he was a very good actor, a born ham, and because he was so freaking handsome.

HaydenNot only was Hayden an actor, he was a very good writer. He wrote an autobiography named Wanderer and a novel named Voyage. Both are excellent.

But more than anything, he was a sailor who wandered the world. I admire that.

And I’ve never even been out on a sailboat. What’s wrong with me?

* * * *

(Hayden’s eccentricity increased with age. Here’s an interesting video. Notice the car he arrives in. He died in 1986 at age 70.)

24 thoughts on “Never a sailor man

  1. You are missing out. Sailing away, especially after you turn off the diesel and hoist the sails, is one of the great thrills of life. And after a week or two, sailing back into the harbor to hot showers, a meal and a bed that doesn’t move is yet another great thrill.


  2. I agree with Bliss. Along with a group f friends, I would sail the San Juans and the Gulf Islands each summer. Those were some of my favorite memories. I have tried to convince my sailing buddies to undertake a Pacific voyage out of Barra de Navidad, but the Mexico factor keeps them away. Maybe I should try going out on my own.


    1. Señor Cotton: The Mexico factor keeps lots of people away. That’s both good and bad. As for your sailing the Pacific alone, I say go for it. You’re not getting any younger.


  3. After school, my friend Roy and I would either go water skiing or sailing. Half the time we went sailing the little boat would capsize. That was part of the fun. When we got tired we would play a couple games of chess. This probably helps explain why we both have problems with skin cancer today.


    1. Andrés: I would want to sail a large boat, not some little dinky thing, and I don’t think capsizing would appeal to me very much even though I do swim. Sharks, you know.


  4. Mr. Hayden has been an ideal of mine for quite some time. What follows is a quote and a link to more and extensive quotes from him.

    “In the worship of security we fling ourselves beneath the wheels of routine — and before we know it our lives are gone.”

    ― Sterling Hayden, Wanderer



  5. As per your advice to Señor Cotton, and with all due respect, you’re not getting any younger…get on a sailboat and sail already. I think I’m going to have to take a look at Sterling’s book, Wanderer.


  6. You really must, Felipe. My favorite place is in the middle of the Gulf, out past the ship channel, no other boats in sight. I love sitting alone on the bow, listening to it cutting through the waves, wind in my face. Nothing between me and nature. The book sounds great.


    1. Ms. Bachelorette: I’ve been out on lots of motorboats. Does that count? In the late 1950s, which I was a young tyke, my father was an editor of Outboard Magazine when we lived in Florida. Part of the job was that he got a new outboard boat and motor every year, free of charge, payola from the manufacturers. The irony of it was that he heartily disliked boating. But the pay was better than his previous newspapering, so he jumped ship, so to speak.

      Sterling Hayden wrote two books, not just the one. An autobiography and a novel about sailing big ships in the late 1800s. They are both very good books. He was a talent.


      1. You are unfamiliar then with the utter disdain sailors have for power boaters. Sailors are purists. The engine is only used for getting out of the channel into open water whence you may hoist your sails. Power boats are a scourge. Noisy and stinky and obnoxious. (I am repeating words my father often said.) Perhaps your father would have enjoyed sailing.

        I’ve got the autobiography on my kindle, now. The novel appears more difficult to come by.


        1. Ms. Bachelorette: Yes, I am unfamiliar with the disdain. Oh, my. So, sailors are a hoity-toity bunch?

          As for the book, I see now that the novel is not digital just yet. It is available in the old-timey paper version. It’s worth the effort. I promise.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Ms. Bachelorette: I found that novel in my bookshelf this morning. I had forgotten how fat it is, somewhere along the lines of Moby Dick. Probably fatter, actually. Again, really good. Highly recommended even if you have to read it in old-fashioned paper like Luddites read these days.


  7. Take a look at the 40 ft Hunter Sailboat at the link I am posting. $550 for 8 hours – includes captain and deck hand and can carry 15. Out of Puerto Vallarta. We could split the cost and spend the day on the water. If we book it during hurricane season we can probably get it even cheaper (we used to canoe on the Current River (MO) during tornado season because it was cheap and we were always fine, except for that one time). I will spring for the deposit if anyone is interested.


    1. Bonnie: Now that’s a nice-looking boat. I’ll have to think about it. The major drawback would be having to drive all the way to Puerto Vallarta. Be a lot closer for us to go to Zihua where, I am sure, the same thing is available.


  8. Years ago, my ex-brother-in-law rented a sailboat, and we tacked for a few hours on the placid waters of Lake Hotpatcong, NJ. It was a nice experience, but not one that draws me to repeat it.

    Don Cuevas


  9. I’m rather surprised you never sailed. The Spanish Virgin Islands of Puerto Rico are now hot sailing grounds. But guess that came along after the military quit using them for training exercises. Having lived on a sailboat for 7 years, I can say it is the most liberating experience ever. If you ever want to get rid of “stuff”, just move aboard. It forces you to look at material things in a whole different way. But, I will admit it wasn’t a tiny boat either. Go sail the Sea of Cortez. It would be an experience to never forget.


    1. Bev: I got rid of stuff when I moved to Mexico. Didn’t need a sailboat. As for living on a boat, I often dreamed of living on a houseboat, not a sailboat. Never did it though.

      I have been on the Sea of Cortez, but it was a ferry, not a sailboat.


  10. I’m surprised that no one mentioned Sterling Hayden played the nut general in Kubricks’ masterpiece Dr. Strangelove. Sailing is a lot of work, but I can see why people love it.


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