Below is a story that was told by an old Ocracoke sea captain, Horatio Williams (1827-1908). Enjoy!:
Seems back in the old days there was a preacher who’d never done any sailing but he’d been around a lot of sailors and he couldn’t understand why they were always cussing, particularly the captains.
Well, it seems this preacher was given a trip on a schooner one day. As the preacher came aboard, the captain was using some pretty strong language to his men.
“You shouldn’t talk like that to your men," the preacher told the captain. "Cussin’ doesn’t do any good."
The captain nodded. The preacher went below. The captain called his men to him. He told them, "I’ve got a little plan for when the preacher comes back. When I say to you, 'My good men, take in the topsail.’You sit still. Don’t pay any attention."
Well, when the preacher appeared, the captain said in a calm voice, “My good men, take in the topsail.” The crew paid no attention. Three times he repeated the order in the same words. And three times he was ignored. Finally, he screamed. “Blast you @#%^&, take in the topsail!” The crew jumped to his order.
The preacher looked at the captain, shook his head and said, "Damn if I don’t believe a little cussin’ does help sometimes.”
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of a 1911 wedding on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news022111.htm.