Here I am pouring my soul out trying to explain how easy it is to start sailing, how affordable sailing is and how much fun and adventure you’ll end up having for the rest of your life.
Then along comes Hollywood trying to scare the living bejesus out of you so you’ll never ever get on a sailboat.
The latest assault on sailing comes from Robert Redford’s latest movie “All Is Lost.” Hollywood again is showing another (fictional – Fake!) movie. When leaving this movie, my wife said (not knowing I was writing this piece) “This movie will stop the public from wanting to go for a sail.” With friends like this in Hollywood, who needs enemies?
All is Lost is about a guy whose boat runs into a steel container (like those that are moved from rail to ship to truck to move goods, there are said to be 5,000 of these floating in the world’s oceans at any time – for real) and the boat ends up sinking in the middle of the ocean. The guy goes from tragedy to ????? (I don’t want to spoil the ending).
Another movie in the theaters now is Captain Phillips, while not exactly sailing, is modeled after a real pirate attack on a Container Ship, and it does go to show that the world’s waters still hold real pirates. The U.S. Department of State today warns to stay away from the waters of Gulf of Aden, Venezuela, Straights of Malacca, and Malayasia. There are other waters around the world where one must remain prudent too.
At least there was something educational in this movie, that the world’s waters are safe in some areas and dangerous in others. I think we can put Lake Michigan in a “safer” category.
COMMERCIAL / CRUISE SHIP MOVIES
Poseidon Adventure, Titanic, The Perfect Storm
After watching these three movies, who would ever want to go out on the water ever again? One is a fake movie (Poseidon Adventure) and the other two are based on a real event. In both Titanic and The Perfect Storm, the lesson to take away from each is that seamanship was not followed.
Going into iceberg territory and being warned before-hand, or going out pushing the end of fishing season into conditions that would expect major storms is not what prudent mariners do. There are great books out there on Seamanship, take some time and read those (authors Chapman or Rousmaniere).
NON-FICTION – REAL MOVIES
White Squall, Morning Light, The Dove, Deep Water, Visitors.
Movies made on real tales, or “based” on real tales are reasonably interesting, but don’t offer themselves to a crash a minute, high explosives, or the boy/girl love story. A few of these real movies are about people who sailed around the world solo.
In two of them, the solo sailors go temporarily nuts from loneliness. But with these real movies, a few trying to find those “worst case scenarios” to film, it makes you realize that danger is a potential, but triumph comes with the struggle.
Morning Light was an attempt by friend Roy Disney to have the youngest team make the Transpac Race from California to Hawaii, however at the last moment another team entered the race with a younger team age average. These young kids in Morning Light were trained by some of the world’s best in preparation for the race. And is just a nice sailing story, as almost all days of sailing really are.
FAKE – FICTION MOVIES
All Is Lost, Wind, Waterworld, Dead Calm, Captain Ron, Knife in the Water, Robinson Crusoe, Masquerade, Triangle, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Summer Rental, Violets are Blue, The Sea Gypsies.
Of all of the movies on sailing I have seen, if I add up all of the humorous events I have experienced in my lifetime, Captain Ron looks more real than all of the other movies combined (as long as you replace the firearms in the movie with squirt guns). There’s always some sort of hilarious stuff happening in this fake movie and what occurs on boats in reality.
Don’t get drawn by Hollywood’s drama and illusion. Most sailors sail in U.S. waters and won’t be attacked by pirates, and with weather predication information available most avoid the high drama of major storms and stay ashore on those days.
When bringing reality into Hollywood movies, there would be little to fear if all movies were non-fiction.
Get educated in safety, and seamanship, go to a sailing school and learn how to operate a boat, learn how to maintain all of the systems on a boat and be prepared for you sailing adventures (the old Boy Scout adage)!
You’ll find your sailing pleasureful, and not worthy to make a movie about!
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