Bear Spray. Or is it Pirate Spray?

Funny story for you...

Windtraveler- Bears


The other night, as I was sleeping in the boat alone – I got to thinking; “Jeeze, what if someone comes aboard and tries to rob me, or worse, while Scott is gone?” I know, pretty morbid and not the most comforting of thoughts for a 6 month pregnant lady who’s husband is away for a week at a time.

But then I remembered the bear spray right by the bed. That’s right. Bear spray.

Or should I call it Pirate Spray?


If you are anything like me (someone who grew up near a city completely devoid of bears and who’s idea of camping is packing a cooler full of booze and going to a clearing near a concert venue) you probably don’t know what “bear spray” is. I didn’t. Well, you remember that little thing of mace that your dad gave you before you left for college that hung on your key chain? It’s kind of like that – only it’s about as big as an air-horn. Because it’s meant for, you know, 500-pound bears.

Anywho…back to the story of how this “Pirate Spray” came to be…

Back when we left Chicago – “pirates” were all the rage. I don’t mean to be flippant, because it’s a very serious subject, but there had been some recent high profile attacks and everyone and his brother wanted to know how we were going to deal with them since, according to landlubbers who didn’t know any better, the world was being overtaken by pirates much in the same way Michigan is being overtaken by deer. I was even contacted by the Wall Street Journal to give a sound byte for an article they were writing on the subject (I was not quoted). Scott and I just sort of laughed off the thought of “piracy” knowing that Somali-style attacks are not happening in the Bahamas or anywhere we were headed in the next year or so. (Not yet, anyway). We had, however, heard of minor incidents in places like Puerto Rico and the Caribbean (again, not approach-your-boat-in-high-speed-vessels-with-uzi’s-while-high-on-qat-style, but boardings and robberies; petty theft mostly). Scott, ever the pro-active hubby, decided to take matters into his own hands and get prepared for combat, should the need arise.


Have you ever been to Charleston, SC? It’s a lovely, idyllic place. I actually think I could live there, but that is besides the point. It’s got cobblestone streets, fine dining, chic boutiques, a distinctly European feel, a nice little college campus nuzzled right smack in the middle and it’s the kind of place you might call “precious”. It reminded me of my favorite neighborhoods in Chicago all rolled into one minus the stab-your-eye-out winter. It is NOT the sort of place where people talk much about, or know anything about, pirates. Unless, of course, you are referring to the Johnny Depp variety. This is an important factoid…

So…Scott and I go into a yuppy-style “outdoor outfitting” store (because we love those types of stores) just to peruse cool things like designer Nalgene bottles, fluffy Patagonia zip-ups and any other neat trinket we might find. We both find ourselves upstairs. I, of course, am eyeballing some cute “convertible and practical” skirt that costs $100, and Scott – I note – is eyeing the camping section, rather intently, I might add. I go back to contemplating my skirt (did not buy it) when I hear this little gem of conversation happen, pretty much verbatim:

[Enter preppy, good looking nineteen year old shop clerk who is wearing “outdoorsy” clothes, but with the collar popped and way too much hair product to be taken seriously as an “outdoorsman”].


Preppy college clerk: Hey man, can I help you find anything?
Scott: [now holding something and studying it, again, rather intently] Um…yeah. Sure.[pause as he reads the label on whatever it is he is holding]. Actually, do you know if this stuff works?
PCC: [leans in inquisitively to see what Scott is holding, cocks his head slightly to the side as if to ponder if he’s ever used it or known anyone who has, the answers to both, of course, are a resounding ‘no’] Uhhhhh…bear spray?
Scott:[looking up, hopeful] Yeah.
PCC: Uhhhh…[he grabs another can off the dusty shelf and examines the label also]I think so…[he continues to study the canister, like a good PCC shop clerk does].
Scott: [sensing this kid isn’t entirely sure what he’s talking about and wanting to clarify a few things for him, he lets out a small ‘knowing’ chuckle] I don’t mean on bears…I mean, do you think this would work on people?

(At this point I now know where this is going, and instead of swooping in to save ourselves from looking like complete arse-holes, I stand there, much like one of those Michigan deer in headlights, holding the skirt limply while silently mouthing the word ‘no’…)

PCC: [kid reacts by pulling his head back quickly, his face contorts in confusion] People??? [Now totally aware that he is in over his head] Uhhhh…[he looks again at the label, unsure if he should check with a manager]…well, it is meant for bears so…[he shrugs and trails off].
Scott: [letting out another chuckle because he realizes how this sounds] I don’t mean regular people, I’m talking about pirates. Do you think this would work on pirates? [NOT realizing how this sounds].
PCC: [backing away a tad – now a look of total, utter confusion washes over his already perplexed face. He wonders for a second; “Am I being Punk’d”]. Ummmmm…wow…uhhhhh…I guess so?
Scott: Great, I’ll take it.


And it is this precise moment when I burst out laughing. Right then and there in the store. Like, the kind of laughter where you crouch over yourself and almost have to fall to your knees because you think you might wet your pants. Scott looks at me like I am crazy. Like that conversation he had was totally normal. Oh, how I love that man.


So…yeah. There it is. Some college kid in Charleston out there is probably recounting this exact same story during kegger parties about the two crazy people who came into his store last year looking for “pirate spray”. God love it._ “I mean, dude…the guy actually said ‘Will it work on pirates’ and I was all, ‘I dunno, I guess so!'” _(boisterous, drunken laughter).

For the record, I am glad we have it and it actually is a good thing to have aboard if you don’t “carry” (a gun) which we do not and will not (Scott read about pirate bear spray on several forums apparently).

For the record, I also sleep with a machete under the pillow while Scott is gone and I have been known crack open a coconut like a ninja with the thing in two fell swoops.

Brittany & Scott

_When two people, with the same life long dream of sailing around the world find each other, there’s only one thing to do… make it happen!
Which is precisely what we, Scott and Brittany, are doing aboard our boat, Rasmus, a Hallberg-Rassy 35 which departed from Chicago September 2010! Follow along at _