Winter's Woes

January means various things to a sailor. If you live in the southern regions it probably means that you don't sail as often as you might in, say, milder months like December or March. If you are a snowbound northerner then you are almost certainly counting the weeks until the cover comes off the boat and life can get back to what you wish was normal.The only consolation about cold winters
Author:
Updated:
Original:

January means various things to a sailor. If you live in the southern regions it probably means that you don't sail as often as you might in, say, milder months like December or March. If you are a snowbound northerner then you are almost certainly counting the weeks until the cover comes off the boat and life can get back to what you wish was normal.

The only consolation about cold winters is that there is an undeniable pleasure in battening down the hatches (in this case windows and doors), stoking up the fire and either reading a book or reclining in front of the idiot box with a good supply of DVDs.

While there is a deep well of excellent seafaring literature to carry you through the winter months, the same, alas, cannot be said for sailing films. All too often, when a small sailboat appears on a screen, its sails are trimmed not to catch the wind but to give the cameraman an unobstructed view of the actors' resolute expressions. Often, said actors have all too obviously never been near a sailboat until they arrived on set, and they either lurch around the deck like seafaring zombies or sit frozen in the cockpit trying to keep their caviar down while mouthing nautical platitudes.

It is hard to enjoy a film when you are wincing at trite lines ("Time to tack onto a new gybe, so belay that sheet!") or peering horrified between your fingers at sailcloth flogging disconsolately while the characters sit obliviously, fixing the horizon with a determined glare.

There is the odd exception, and I think I have suffered through enough bad movies to feel justified in recommending some good ones. One of my all-time favorites is Riddle of The Sands, a terrific spy movie set in the shifting shallows of the Dutch coast in the years leading up to World War I. Produced and acted by sailors, it is long on suspense and short on cringe-inducing moments.

If you like dark movies, try Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water or Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream. I've always had a soft spot for the now-classic Dead Calm, and not just because of Nicole Kidman. It's a pretty good thriller and believe me, you'll treat your flare gun with a bit more respect after you've seen it.

If you are good at suspending disbelief—a skill that all movie-watchers should develop—you shouldn't miss the classic Wind, in which the local heroes win the America's Cup with the aid of the Whomper—which, you have to admit, is a better name for a sail than Code O.

There are a few classics out there if you aren't scared to go back in time. African Queen isn't about sailing but is one of the best films ever to feature a small boat. Old-school pirate films are always fun, especially if you have some youngsters to watch them with. A High Wind in Jamaica is one that's especially worth watching, along with The Crimson Pirate and Captain Blood.

So, pour a drink and hunker down. Let's face it, you'll never have time to watch TV during sailing season.

Related

Jerome

Point of SAIL: Jerome Rand

In the first episode of Point of SAIL, the SAIL magazine podcast, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with circumnavigator Jerome Rand about his adventures, past and future. For more information, visit Jerome's YouTube channel July 2020 ...read more

01-NEW-shutterstock_727520281

Cruising: Belize on a Multihull

In my experience, every charter has a kind of a theme to it, often encapsulated in a single moment. For me, during a recent weeklong charter off the coast of Belize that moment came toward the end of our first day out. We’d left the Sunsail base (sunsail.com), located part way ...read more

01-LEAD-View-of-the-Bow

Know-How: Marlinspike Seamanship in the Arctic

I was crewing aboard a boat named Breskell, a 51ft cutter-rigged, cold-molded, mahogany sloop. We were voyaging from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Port Townsend, Washington, via the Northwest Passage. A few days before setting sail, the captain, Olivier Huin, asked me to secure ...read more

Prop-Coat-Barnacle-Barrier-Quart-No-Background

Gear: Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier

Prop Coat Barnacle Barrier 1792 is now available in a quart-size can and, as always, can be used on all underwater metals, including saildrives, shafts, strainers and folding and non-folding props. Two or three coats are recommended, after which the coating will purportedly ...read more

DY_171021_6877

Boat Review: Seawind 1600

Seawind Catamarans introduced its 52ft 1600 model in Europe last year, where the boat promptly started winning awards. The more jaded among us may look askance at such things, especially when it comes to a bluewater-rated catamaran billed as a providing a combination of ...read more