Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bizarre Books: "How To Avoid Huge Ships"

In 1982, Captain John W. Trimmer self-published a book entitled How To Avoid Huge Ships: Or I Never Met a Ship I Liked. It was a simple guidebook for captains of small boats on avoiding cruise ships, oil tankers, and other larger craft. But the idea that someone would need a book on how to keep from hitting massive ships struck people as funny. In 1992, the book won the Bookseller/Diagram Prize for Oddest Title of the Year. In 2000, the book became the target of wacky Amazon reviewers who wrote reviews like:

Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn't find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.

Given that there is a huge ship bearing down on me RIGHT NOW I am extremely disappointed that I cannot get--

I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer's other excellent titles: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building.
This book really is one of the best huge ship avoidance references I've come across, not just for the effective methods it teaches as to avoiding huge ships, but also for exploding some of the huge ship avoidance myths that many of us take for granted.

For example:
- Do not charge the huge ship at full speed in an attempt to scare it off. This may work with coyotes, but it is less effective with huge ships.
- Similarly, do not roll your boat over and play dead. Unless the huge ship is captained by a grizzly bear, this will not work.
- Do not attempt to go under the huge ship. This is typically not successful.
- Do not attempt to jump over the huge ship.
Captain Trimmer presents a rather novel technique for avoiding huge ships - move your boat out of the path of the huge ship. I know what you're thinking, this goes against conventional wisdom, but Trimmer presents significant empirical evidence to support his theory. Indeed, over the long run, moving out of the way will dramatically decrease the number of huge ship collisions you will have to endure in your daily life.
That garnered national attention, as well as the fact that it's selling for over three hundred dollars. But in all the hilarity, the actual book has been lost in the shuffle. According to a thread I found, avoiding huge ships is a real issue, and the book does have value. Trimmer himself passed away in 2010. RIP, Huge-Ship-Avoider-Extraordinaire. You had the last laugh.

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