Keep calm and carry on cursing

Published on April 9th, 2020

Practical Sailor Editor Darrell Nicholson recalled a letter he received several years ago, and with laughter being rare and necessary these days, he thought it was worth recycling. We did too:


Dear Practical Sailor,

What do you think about a J/24 for cursing?

Thank you,
A Loyal Subscriber

Dear Loyal Subscriber,

Thanks for your letter.

In my opinion, a J/24 is a little too small for serious offshore cursing. They are pretty sensitive boats and might not hold up to well to a long, hard curse.

Then again, schools like the OCSC Sailing School in Berkeley, California use J/24s to teach basic cursing. And frankly, I know plenty of sailors who wouldn’t hesitate to curse a J/24. I should mention that these are mostly racing sailors, but they can curse right up there with best of us.

Some people will tell you that cursing any boat under 30 feet is sheer madness. But there are plenty of people who have cursed some very small boats across the world’s oceans. Transhumanist and GOP candidate Zoltan Istvan cursed a small Pearson Commander from the U.S. West Coast all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. You know what they say, “One person’s sheer madness is another person’s grand ambition to rewire human race.”

I think that holds true for cursing. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Closer to home, trans-Pacific small-boat veteran Steven Cannon and I cursed a Balboa 26 during a one-week charter in the Florida Bay. It’s only a little bigger than a J/24, and it had all the basic equipment you need for cursing.

A marine toilet, which we sailors call a “head,” is of course essential if you want to do some serious cursing. The Balboa had a port-a-potty, which, according to the owner, had worked flawlessly despite three years of cursing.

Believe me, if you are planning to sail around the Florida Bay, or any shallow waters, you want a boat like the Balboa, with a centerboard that can raised up quickly. Each time we struck an oyster bar, it barely interrupted our cursing, and we would just lift the centerboard and carry on cursing.

For authentic back-country cursing, you really can’t beat the Florida Bay, where you can discover some secret spots to curse like the The Nightmare. As you can tell by the name, the charts used for cursing this region are very old, dating back to the time when state of Florida still had a grip on the truth.

I must warn you, however, once you start cursing, it is hard to stop. I have this problem myself. My girlfriend blames the rum—she says that the more I drink, the more I want to curse. I say that’s crazy, cursing is in my blood. And she says, that’s her point.

Although technically she’s a “horse person,” she’s a natural at cursing (maybe there’s a connection?). She really seems to enjoy it, so I’m hopeful about cursing together in the future. I think it is important to temper her expectations. To be honest, full-time cursing can be really exhausting!

Anyway, you are doing the right thing by asking lots of questions. Cursing is a continuous process, and even the experts are always learning. It certainly helps if you have the right boat.

Once you are ready to commit, we recently reviewed several sailboats under $75K that would be well-suited for cursing. Before you sign on the dotted line, though, you’ll want to hire a good marine surveyor who will be able to warn you if boat has been cursed beyond the point of repair. Like I said, some boats just aren’t made for a long, hard curse.

Fair winds and happy cursing!


For more than 35 years, Practical Sailor has been taking the guesswork out of boat and gear buying with bold, independent boat tests, and product-test reports for serious sailors and boaters.

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