The Naked Truth - 4/18/02
By Little Gidding - Published April 18, 2002 - Viewed 580 times
The Naked Truth - April 18, 2002
Stark naked at Square Rock Cay
For most of the year, we don't wear a lot of clothes aboard "Little
Gidding". Near-nudity for us is not a political statement, a sign of sun
worship or an act of exhibitionism. It's a matter of comfort. In the
tropical heat it just doesn't make sense to put on a lot of unnecessary
layers. We cover up when we're in the direct sun because we have an
aversion to melanoma and don't want to look like dried sultanas in our old
age. In the shade of our cockpit bimini or foredeck awning we peel back to
the bare minimum.
There are at least two reasons other than warmth and protection for wearing
clothes. The first has to do with fashion. Before we left to go cruising,
David used to knot a strip of cloth around his neck every morning prior to
going to work and Eileen would encase the lower half of her body in a
constricting sheath of transparent material. These articles of clothing
didn't appear to be very functional, yet we wore them because everyone else
in our immediate world did. It was expected of us. It was also considered
important to vary what you wore from day to day, even if the clothes were
clean and in good shape. We weren't into fashion in a big way, but still
ended up spending a fair chunk of money to meet the basic standards of
appearance established by our peers.
Now that we're living aboard full time, our clothing budget has plummeted.
Our sandals generally have to be replaced every year or two and we pick up
new tee shirts as the old ones expire and get relegated to the rag bag.
David considers he's dressed up if the shorts he's wearing don't have any
tears or grease spots. Eileen has higher standards, but doesn't fret too mu
ch about what is currently being paraded on the runways of Paris or Milan.
Within the cruising community, probably the most coveted fashion accessory
is a properly faded red Mount Gay rum cap, memento of a past regatta.
("Wow! He's got an Antigua Sailing Festival '92; that beats my Grenada
The other non-utilitarian reason for wearing clothes has to do with a sense
of moral propriety. The limits of decency are culturally defined. In the
French islands of the Caribbean, wearing anything at all is considered
un-cool at some beaches. This can lead to some pretty frightening sights.
Among the former British islands, however, too much skin is scandalous. Men
generally sport long pants. Only school boys wear shorts, which is why
adult visitors displaying their knobby knees aren't always taken too
On most North American cruising boats in tropical anchorages, anything
exceeding a fig leaf probably qualifies as acceptable screening (continental
Europeans often dispense even with fig leaves). As they approach in their
dinghy, a British couple we know always announces some distance away, "Have
you got you're knickers on?". We cruised for the better of a year with an
American woman who, as far as we can recall, only ever wore a bathing suit
(she had more than one).
With a change in venue, it sometimes takes a while to make the appropriate
cultural adjustments. Down south, David's favourite wardrobe item is a pair
of chequered boxer shorts. After a direct passage from Florida to North
Carolina, Eileen had to remind him that the tourists by the fuel dock at an
upscale marina were probably staring because they expected him to be more
We achieve complete freedom of non-attire when we're by ourselves in a
remote anchorage. In fact, this is one reason we sometimes flee the
maddening crowd. A couple of weeks ago, we felt overwhelmed by the couple
of hundred boats anchored all around us near George Town. We moved four
miles away to Red Shanks, where we could see only two other boats anchored
in the distance. Before we could get fully unclothed, a dozen more boats
entered the anchorage. They were clearly following us. We had to go
further afield. A few days later, we took advantage of a nice easterly
breeze and sailed twenty miles northwest of George Town to Square Rock Cay.
We timed our entry through the narrow cut in the reef at Square Rock Cay for
slack tide and good overhead light. On the shallow bank inside the pass, we
dropped our sails and motored around to the protected water on the south
side of the cay. Not a soul in sight. After we dropped the hook, David
doffed his clothes and dove overboard to ensure the anchor had penetrated
the grassy bottom. Climbing back on board, he grinned, "I guess I don't
need to put my shorts back on." Eileen dubiously inspected the exposed pale
flesh and commented, "Don't forget your sun block."
Cheers, David & Eileen
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