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Cruising With The Chilbergs: Rule Numero Uno (BLOG)

Sure sure, there are endless "rules" to follow when on the water. But, for the seaman in all of us, behold the first three rules of the water starting with rule one: Don't sink.

“I feel that you are justified in looking into the future with full assurance.”

— Albert Einstein

Unfortunately, Scott and Rick fell overboard at the Harborage Marina in St. Pete as we returned. I was not worried, however, because they were good swimmers … at least they were 40 years ago. Ultimately the two departed for Nashville, promising to return next year for a voyage to the Dry Tortugas and Key West to meet their wives there.

At that point Lee and I departed with, Baci, my Schnoodle and Allie, a Shih Tzu mix of unknown and dubious ancestry. The sun was warm and the seas calm as we cruised down Tampa Bay toward the Field Club in Sarasota. Suddenly the Coast Guard came on the VHF radio to give us a “Hazard to Navigation” warning. Generally, I have the same view of these warnings a Rhett Butler did with Scarlett O’Hara, “Frankly dear, I don’t give a damn.”


But this time they mentioned the Skyway Bridge, which spans Tampa Bay and we were heading directly toward the warning. Since we were only 2 ½ miles from the bridge, I decided to turn to Ch 22 and listen in: “There is a 40-foot Sportfishing vessel sunk ½ mile Northeast of the Skyway Bridge” They reported.

Well, we were heading right toward it! As we approached the bridge, I noticed something protruding from the surface, it was the top of a Tuna Tower with the American Flag still flying. With tears in our eyes and hand over our hearts, we proceeded to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” and then “God Bless America” on behalf of Mud Puddle Rose as she glided past her fallen comrade.

I then remembered Seamanship Rule #1: Don’t sink.

The reason is not the possible loss of life, dashed dreams nor the angst for your insurance agent. The real reason is that we do not want to be the topic of conversation at the yacht club bars for the next year until the next boat sinks! The pain of sipping a Captain Morgan Rum and over hearing the arrogant yachties at the next table whispering disparaging remarks about your seamanship for a year would be too much for even the most hardened old salt to endure!

I do however, have a word of advice, should you be the unfortunate next soul to sink and that is Rule #2: Only sink in water shallow enough so that your cockpit, flybridge, or Tuna Tower is positioned enough out of the water to allow you to calmly sit high and dry enjoying a cool glass of Rum as you await SeaTow to rescue you.

Also Rule #3: Have another glass of Captain Morgan for him too!

“Honey, is that the high water alarm I hear buzzing in the bilge?”

Happy Cruising & pour me another drink!

 A fine perch for any last words.

A fine perch for any last words.

Follow the Chilbergs on their blogor right here in the cruiser blogs section at