“What About Bob? I’m Sailing.”
I’ve written about sailing movies before, and few of them are any good. Many of them bombed at the box office as well. That’s strange since sailing would seem to lend itself to an intense, beautiful script.
Just the opposite happened with “What About Bob?” a black comedy that debuted in 1991 starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss. Murray is his usual cultish self, as honed in “Ground Hog Day.” He is one-dimensional, boorish and to my mind unfunny. He plays a psychiatric patient who trolls his psychiatrist (Dreyfuss) who’s trying to enjoy his family vacation.
At one point Bob goes sailing, if you can call it that. He’s lashed to the mast with coils of line while wearing a life preserver. This is quintessential Bill Murray—stupid, rambling, bumbling. And yet, the film did well at the box office and is ranked inexplicably No. 43 on Bravo’s 100 Funniest Movies. Go figure.
The reason I bring all this up is that “What about Bob? I’m sailing?” is a frequent question on the internet. Storybase.com is a respected site that helps writers, bloggers, agencies and other “content providers” relevant content based on complex data the site has mined. In this case, storyboard lists the question “What about Bob? I’m sailing” as second among 236 related questions on the word “sailing” asked 48,600 times last year in the United States.
Top sailboat questions
In a related list, here are the top 13 questions asked on storybase.com about the related term “sailboat.” (I offer short answers in parenthesis.) These are the highest 13 questions among 47 assembled. Another 6,732 phrases are assembled, in which phrase is defined as two or more words, ie. Sailboats for sale.
How do sailboats work? (They power off the wind.)
Most cruising sailboats and trawlers have what type of hull? (Sloop)
How [do] sailboats work? (See No. 1.)
What do small sailboats have a tendency to do? (Tip to one side.)
How much are sailboats? (It depends on age and length.)
How much do sailboats cost? (See No. 5.)
How do sailboats sail into the wind? (Bernoulli Principle)
How fast do sailboats go? (55 mph in America’s Cup)
The wages of employees who build the sailboats? (Low)
What kind of hulls do most sailboats have? (Fiberglas)
How to make paper sailboats? (See here.)
What kind of hulls do sailboats have? (See No. 10.)
How fast are sailboats? (See No. 8.)
How to draw sailboats? (Take a class.)
Sailing a Ketch
A ketch looks like any other sailboat, but it isn’t. It looks like a hybrid between a traditional sloop and a three-masted schooner. It has two masts and three sails. The big difference is aft, where the last sail is called the mizzen.
A ketch has some advantages over a sloop, according to Tom Lochhaas writing for Thought Co. in January 2019. A ketch has smaller sails, so they’re more easily to hoist and manage than the two sails on a sloop. However, if you have a sloop with a furling jib and an in-mast furl, you have a distinct over any boat that has to hoist sails. At any rate, older sailors like the ketch for the ease of hoisting. Another advantage is that you can use only two sails at a time to great effect during strong winds. With a sloop, you have to reef the sails in a strong wind.
To quote Lochhass: “The three sails of the ketch do not necessarily mean that the sail area is larger than on a sloop of the same size. Sail area is usually planned by boat designers based on the boat’s size, displacement (weight), hull shape and configuration, not on the number of masts or sails. This means that the mainsail and headsail of a ketch are generally smaller than on a sloop, but the mizzen sail roughly makes the difference.”
The disadvantages of a ketch are numerous, yet part of the adventure of sailing. First, they generally don’s sail as fast or as close to the wind as a sloop. That to me would be the deal-killer. Second, the ketch has more standing rigging among the shrouds and stays to manage and maintain. More running rigging as well, that is halyards and sheets. That doesn’t strike me as a big deal since more rigging translates into more maneuverability. Third, the mizzenmast in a ketch takes up space in the stern. Finally, there are fewer ketches available on the market, especially new ones. They’re more popular as an older boat.
The sister boat to the ketch is the yawl. The distinction is that the ketch has the rudder post or wheel ahead of the mizzen mast while the yawl has the wheel behind the mizzen mast. One way to remember that is, “Ya’ll come back behind the mizzen.”
I’m taking out a fellow next week who fell in love with a ketch and bought it before someone else could. He wants to sail a sloop to understand the distinction of the dynamics.
Let’s Go Sail, without Bob
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