May 18, 2013 – A What Chair?

A bosun’s chair.  Much to David Copperfield’s dismay, I’m going to reveal my secret.  After I took you all to Such Great Heights last time, many of you seemed far more concerned with my safety than the halyard (really? the halyard is so important!) and you wanted to know whether I climbed the mast without a safety net.  “Why yes, yes I did.” she said with a wink and a smile.  There was no net, but I can assure you it was climbed safely.   “How?”  You ask.  With a bosun’s chair!

No, not bison.

Pics from Phone 419

Pics from Phone 419

Bosun.  (Yes – that’s me – rocking the Artic Cat outfit with the bison up in Yellowstone.  Phillip and I saw plenty on our snowmobile tour through there when we went up to Big Sky last February to ski – you remember that trip: “Knee Schmee – Let’s Ski!”

So, bosun.  Let’s look it up, shall we?


NOUN (also bo’sun, boatswain)

ˈbəʊsn  pronunciation English; ˈboʊsn  pronunciation American
An officer on a ship whose job is to take care of the equipment and the people who work on the ship.
A “swab,” basically.  And a bosun’s chair is really just a fancy little strappy device that you can use to hoist a swab (like me!) up to patch the sails, untangle a line, get the halyard down, etc.
Boson's Chair
You sit in the chair and hook a halyard (I’m sure you’re starting to get this by now – a halyard is a line that’s used to raise anything on the boat – including people!) to the orange rings shown above, and your faithful captain hoists your happy-swabbing behind up to do his dirty work.  You’ll see in this picture, I was safely seated in a bosun’s chair for the entire “death-defying” ascension:
Mast 1
Boson's Chair (2)
See!  There’s a big, strappy bosun’s chair swaddling my derriere at all times.  And, apparently you all think my ass just looks that big without a bosun’s chair because no one asked what that big, honking thing was on my rear.  Thanks for that.
In all seriousness, bosun’s chairs are quite useful for repairing sails or working on the mast, but, much like the Slap Chop, they have many other uses as well.  You can latch one to the spinnaker sail (we’ll get to that another day) to swing out over the water:
Boson spinnaker
You can use it to drag misbehaving mates alongside the boat for punishment:

You can even use it to hoist Granny up and throw her over the side:


“Bye Granny!”  And, sorry, I couldn’t find a video for this one.  I know people do it all the time.  Apparently they just don’t post it to YouTube.  I don’t know why.  You’ll just have to let your imagination run wild.

So, the bosun’s chair.  Although we did use it, as well as a secondary line, to ensure my ascent was made safely, that’s not to say the climbing act didn’t require some good ole’ Annie gumption and secret circus tricks.  Do not try this at home kids – I began climbing and jumping things at a very young age and have a wealth of circus knowledge to pull from:

High Jump (2)

Oh yeah, that is 100% authentic.  Notice the metal Tonka truck (that’s before they started cranking out all that plastic BS), the flat soccer ball and the “bench” made out of an old railroad tie sitting on cinder blocks.  Yes, that is indeed my New Mexico backyard circa 1992.

High Jump 2 (2)

I had no idea at the time that it would take me some day to such great heights.  We merely found it entertaining.  Unlike kids today, the only thing we thought could make a hot, summer afternoon in the backyard with some rope and rebar hammered into the ground better was ice cream.   Just ask my high-waisted friend here.  Those were such good times …