With marijuana legal in 16 US States including the entire West Coast and ganja becoming a legitimate (and billion dollar) business, the popular stigma attached to the devil weed is fading away rapidly. Rapidly enough to share your best stoner sailing stories on an internet forum? Who knows… But you can certainly share yours here along with the rest of the stoner and former stoner anarchists. We’ll give you one of the legendary substance-induced boat pranks stories first – this one from Hunter S. Thompson’s run-in with the 1970 America’s Cup, as told by George Plimpton in Shadow Box. Title thanks to Dylan.
Any time spent with Hunter Thompson seemed to generate its own original lunacy, especially when he was with Ralph Steadman, his cartoonist cohort who was with him in Zaire and who seemed to pep things up and inspire a coporate rather than an individual madness. Once, I got Hunter seated and reminiscing (God knows where Steadman was!) at the outside bar of the Inter-Continental (he sat under a sun-sheltering thatched roof drinking Planter’s Punch, which he though appropriate to the colonial atmosphere of the hotel), and he began telling me about the time he and Steadman were sent to cover the America’s Cup yacht races at Newport, Rhode Island, the year the Australian twelve-meter Gretel raced against the Intrepid – I can’t imagine what sort of report their editor expected to come out of it…The two of them "borrowed" a rowboat and with Hunter at the oars set out across the harbor late at night toward the Gretel at her berth. Aboard they had an aerosol can of black paint. Their intent was to range up along the Gretel and paint "F–k the Pope" on her sides."
The plan that these two twisted minds had, was that the Gretel would leap along the waves and everyone would see the obscene message, but no one on the Gretel would know what on earth was happening.
The adventure turned out to be traumatic from the star. Thompson was not especially adept with oars, and on the way to the Gretel, ahead in the darkness, they spun around a bit in the harbor, everything deathly still out there, the black water with not a ripple on it, so that the oarlocks, the crack of oars against the hull as Thompson caught a crab, the "whoop" from Steadman as the rowboat lurched under him echoed (Thompson said) across the bay "like gunshots."
Somehow they got to the lee of the Gretel, shipping oars and gliding up to her as she lay alongside the wharf. Hunter was "entranced" by the great white expanse of the twelve-meter’s flanks in front of him – "I felt like Gully Jimson." He reached for the aerosol can and handed it to Steadman, who was, after all, the artist of the two.
"Well, right from the start we had our troubles," Hunter told me. "First of all, those aerosol cans have these steel ball bearings in there to stir up the paint, and they clatter when you shake the can up to get it operative. Not only that, but it makes a kind of hissing sound when the plunger is pressed down to apply the paint. Well, as soon as Ralph shook the can, things began to happen. Maybe they knew we were coming…overheard our planning, which we had done in a number of bars quite loudly that week. All the lights went on. A couple of jeeps parked on the wharf turned on their headlights. Guys with flashlights began to move around on the deck of the Gretel. Time for a diversion. I set off a parachute flare. It went right up past the nose of a guy who just happened to peek over the rail and look down at us…whoosh, within a foot of him going up…There was enough illumination, what with the flare and the jeep headlights and the rest of it, to read the instructions on the damn aerosol can. We had to pull out. I don’t remember that Steadman even got an F of his slogan on the side of the Gretel. He was very badly upset – the frustrated artist, spaced out and all, and the excitement made a heavy reaction on the both of us. We abandoned the rowboat and fled along the streets. One of us left a pair of shoes in the boat. We had to get out of that town. We couldn’t even go back to the hotel to get our stuff. We argued about the shoes – Steadman said they were his. I suggested he buy a pair the next day. He said it was Sunday. I told him I had an important appointment in New York the next morning, which was true."
In the end, HST told Ralph that it was common for New Yorkers to go barefoot. Ralph didn’t even take one of the shoes.