Dont Put Mout On It, Mon

By Tom Neale, 8/20/2009


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When we first started going to the Bahamas, island friends regularly told us, “Don’t put Mout’ on it, Mon, Don’t put Mout’ on ‘tings.”  The first time I heard this I didn’t have a clue about what it meant. I understood the Bahamian dialect (apparently it was easier to understand than my southern dialect), but I didn’t know what they meant. Now I know.  And I believe.


The general deal is, whenever something’s going well, the last thing you want to do is to say it’s going well. As soon as you start saying it’s going well, it flips and starts going bad.  It may not flip right away, or even that day, but your Mout’ is going to get you, especially if you’re on the water. This may not be very important on land. It’s an “at sea” or an “in the islands” thing.  I guess this is especially true out on the water because ashore there are so many fools putting Mout’ on it that your mout’ is easily drowned out and it doesn’t have much power. But at sea or in the islands when there are so few Mout’s asking for trouble by saying things are great, your very own Mout’ has a lot more Mout’ power.  So on “Chez Nous” we studiously avoid saying things like “Oh man, what beautiful weather.” We never say things like, “Yeah, we’ll be pulling into that harbor in three days.” We never say, “That engine sure is running great today.” We wouldn’t dream of saying something really serious like, “Look at those birds working. We’re going to catch some fish in a few minutes.”


This sounds kind of simple, but it’s not.  When you’re playing around with things like Cosmic Karma, Mother Luck and Voodoo, (I’m not sure where this falls and I’m not going to try to find out) you’ve got to be careful.  You’ve got to be very very careful. Take the current hurricane season and NOAA’s recently updated prediction (as noted on our August 6, 2009 East Coast Alerts (  They took into account the fact that as of then we were well into the season and hadn’t had a hurricane (yet).  So they downgraded the overall 2009 season hurricane outlook.  But they did dutifully and properly point out and warn about the obvious: that the season could still slam us and that some of the worst hurricanes to ever hit us had come when the first named storm, as, for example that monster killer Andrew, hadn’t been born until mid-August or later. They even dutifully and properly warned us that some of the worst storms, such as Camille and Bob, had come even during an El Nino year. But the next week, we got 3 named storms. They did their official job and they did it well.  But “dutifully and properly” doesn’t cut it with whatever mysterious forces we’re dealing with when we put even just a little Mout’ on ‘tings. Either these forces don’t read the fine print, or, more likely, they don’t care about reading the fine print, knowing full well that they’re far bigger than the fine print stuff.  They’re up there wielding the power of human Mout’s and they’re ready to let us know that we’re at their mercy if we give them the chance.


Examples of this are legendary at sea. Like the guy during the storm of the century (I forget which storm of the century) who said he was going to anchor on the west side of Big Majors Cay in the Exumas.  Everybody else was ducking for cover to the east of whatever land they could find because the winds were predicted at near hurricane force, and probably from the west part of the time. He announced to his friends, via the VHF, (which meant he was announcing it to almost everybody), that he’d be fine.  As the seas came rolling and slamming in from the hundreds of miles of fetch over the Great Bahamas Banks, the big snubbing line eye bolt coming through his stem (assumedly one of the stronger portions of the hull) pulled right through the stem, taking with it a huge chunk of fiberglass still surrounding the large stainless steel back up plate.  The hole in the stem was, fortunately, above the water line, so his pumps were able to keep up with the water flooding through the hull as each wave buried the bow, but it wasn’t a good day for him.

We saw another example when a proud grandfather, having recently retired on the sailing yacht of his dreams, wanted to share his venture with children and grandchildren. He made arrangements for them to fly into George Town on Great Exuma, including expensive hotel reservations.  The family members made arrangements to take annual vacations for that week.  The week before that special week he sat in the bar at Staniel Cay Yacht Club, explaining over a beer to cruising friends that he had plenty of time to make the one to two day trip down the island chain.  “I’m going to be there to see them fly in,” he said.  Wrong. Two days later an unexpected nor’easter blew up and the cuts quickly became impassable. In the Bahamas, there are many sayings.  One is that, “If she blow one day, she gonna blow two. If she blow two days, she gonna blow t’ree days. If she blow t’ree days, she gonna blow and blow and blow.”  Like so many other island sayings, this also proves true over and over again.  The poor guy had to take his boat down island as far as he could get in the shallow waters on the west side of the chain, leave it anchored, and charter a local island shallow draft skiff, with a skipper who knew the waters to the west of the islands well enough to ferry him down to the north end of Great Exuma. Said skipper charged quite well for his boat and expertise. From there the cruiser had to take an incredibly expensive taxi to get him down to George Town so that he could see his family.

Tom’s Tips About Putting
Mout’ On It

1. When some bureaucrat asks you to put Mout’ on something, pretend you can’t hear. It’s much better for them to think you’re deaf than for you to put Mout’ on it.

Click Here for More Tips

All this seems simple: just don’t put Mout’ on it. But then some idiotic bureaucrat forces you to put Mout’ on it.  Like when an insurer asks you if you’ve ever made any claims.  When I say, “Do I have to answer that?” I can hear the keyboard at the other end of the line going on overdrive. Or when you’re going to a doctor and the upfront nurse asks you if you’ve ever had a heart attack. I write down “no” and my chest starts hurting before I finish the form. Or when some government bureaucrat asks if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime. When this happens, my past life spins before my eyes and I start looking over my shoulder for the rest of the day.

All of this makes me shudder just to think about it. So I’m going to stop writing about it and go get in my boat where the motor won’t start, I’ll fall overboard trying to fix it and the boat will sink at the dock.  (Not really. Read the third tip below.)


Copyright 2004-2009 Tom Neale