Chris’ April 1st Law of Boat Maintenance


This morning we have a very exciting announcement from AAC-Labs, the research arm here at Attainable Adventure Cruising Ltd World Headquarters.

After a six month intense project made possible by funding from the Government of Canada, The US National Science Foundation, and the European Union, we are pleased to announce the formulation of a set of fundamental governing principles, which will change offshore sailing forever, named Chris’ Law after the lead researcher.

Broad Observations

  • Under the best of circumstances there is better than a 95% chance a bottle of whiskey will survive a significant maintenance event.
  • In the universe of outcomes there is a 32% chance of bottle exhaustion.
  • No matter how good the weather and how well estimated the job, when access sucks, the whiskey hasn’t got a chance.

Supporting Model


* must be normalized for drinking habits.
** different multipliers may be required for Rum, Armagnac, Grappa, etc.
*** in cases of very bad access, whiskey may be used as a lubricant.

Governing Equation


  • Constant 0.099 allows for hope by keeping the worst initial case at 0%.
  • Total in cell F6 is as bad as it can get in a rational world.
  • Constant 1.618 is phi, the Golden Ratio, the number by which all things ugly are made beautiful.
  • The “Bs”are the multiplied expectation and accessibility scores.

More Exciting News

It’s too early to say anything officially, but let’s just say that Chris’ name has figured prominently in deliberations in Stockholm.

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Meet the Author


John was born and brought up in Bermuda and started sailing as a child, racing locally and offshore before turning to cruising. He has sailed over 100,000 miles, most of it on his McCurdy & Rhodes 56, Morgan's Cloud, including eight ocean races to Bermuda, culminating in winning his class twice in the Newport Bermuda Race. He has skippered a series of voyages in the North Atlantic, the majority of which have been to the high latitudes. John has been helping others go voyaging by sharing his experience for twenty years, first in yachting magazines and, for the last 12 years, as co-editor/publisher of AAC.

18 comments… add one
  • Matt Marsh Apr 1, 2013, 10:51 am

    Would it be accurate to interpret negative probabilities, in this model, as the probability of additional liquor store runs after the first bottle is empty?
    For example, -137% meaning the first bottle is gone, the second bottle will also be gone, and there is a 37% chance of going out to buy a third one?

  • Chris Apr 1, 2013, 11:19 am

    Funding? What Funding? Noooobody said anything about funding! This is like the time my parents moved and, oops, forgot to tell me…

    Matt, we buy by the case so as to stay within the asymptote of supply decay.

    • John Apr 1, 2013, 1:53 pm

      Sorry, Chris, the Phyllis and John retirement fund needed a top up what with low interest rates and all. But hey, we will let you keep 10% of the prize from Stockholm—I know, we are all heart.

      • Chris Apr 1, 2013, 3:23 pm

        Sounds like the IRS…

  • Marc Dacey Apr 1, 2013, 11:25 am

    The ability to go on a run for the essential third bottle of Skipper’s Nerve Tonic must take into account factors P/Y (the pitching and yawing of the dock) and S/BC (is it a Sunday and are you in British Columbia?), factors without which the whole equation seems rather dated.

    Not to mention the corrolary “why is the rum always gone?” paradox, which has been reported by scientist-seafarers for hundreds of years.

    I may have to go do some empirical research on this one myself, if I can locate both the sun and a representative yard arm.

  • Don Stewart Apr 1, 2013, 1:59 pm

    To Morgans Cloud – remember – Morgans Cloud, Faydra, Glen Farr, RNYS, hurricane Bob, 1991

  • richard s. Apr 1, 2013, 2:33 pm

    mystery solved…now i know why that geo dickel container looks so enticing from time to time…also the bacardi, smirnoff and j daniels containers…i wager for you it is the glenfenning (sp ?) container…thank you phyllis and john

    richard s.
    tampa bay, s/v lakota

  • Horatio Marteleira Apr 1, 2013, 2:39 pm

    I assure you that you will not win the Nobel, for one simple reason: your equation relies on “hard booze” instead of red wine.
    Let me explain the scientific rationale: after a bottle of the hard stuff, the maintenance person also becomes a maintenance problem (with little maintenance space, I dare say).
    Here in Portugal, by drinking wine, the maintenance person becomes increasingly poetic about the whole chore, begins to sing out loud and is soon joined by half of the marina/anchorage patrons who help him/her (normally him) do the maintenance in exchange for a glass of “Alentejo red”.
    Don’t worry, I’ll donate 50% of the Nobel to AAC (use the funds wisely…on red wine!)

    • Chris Apr 1, 2013, 3:37 pm


      While I most heartily endorse the concept of in vino, credulitas, I have yet to encounter a person sufficiently susceptible to the undistilled grape (or gullible enough) to rebuild my head.

      I am a bio-chemical engineer. You are a poet. I suggest we jointly accept the first prize awarded in chemoetics, or perhaps poestry. We should probably send a cask or two of Alentejo and akvavit (or brännvin) north to test the larger idea.

      • Horatio Marteleira Apr 1, 2013, 5:30 pm

        I’ll drink to that Chris.
        Rebuilding the head is asking a bit much,…but I have a Lavac and am thus immune to dysfunctional heads (the flushing type anyway).
        On a more sober note, please don’t drink and sail, it could prove to be more disastrous than Socrate’s last drink.

        • Chris Apr 1, 2013, 5:51 pm

          We had a Lavac in a prior boat and loved it. After many fit checks we concluded one cannot be fit to this head compartment. Sigh.

          As to drinking and sailing (flying, driving, parachuting, skiing, diving, …) never have never will. Thank you for the thought though.

  • Pascal Apr 1, 2013, 2:51 pm

    Love it. Thanks for that, made my day.

  • Crazy Horse (AKA RDE) Apr 1, 2013, 5:05 pm

    A clear example of the virtue of forgetting about the boat maintenance entirely, finishing the bottle instead, and then sitting down to the task of writing—–.

    Looks like we have found the perfect lubricant to bring out the poets among us.

  • Jim Patek Apr 2, 2013, 5:40 am

    Thanks so much for some light hearted relief as I sit here in Gulf Harbour NZ after a day of impact drivers, blow torches, CRC, grease on every piece of clothing I own and utter depression as I try to get that last threaded bolt out of the genoa sheet winch prior to sandblasting. Can I work backwards from the number of bottles of whiskey to confirm the coefficients?

    • Chris Apr 2, 2013, 7:07 am

      I tried. I was using a bottle of Goslings (thinned with ginger beer). Sadly one c…

      Uh, what was the question?

  • Gerhard Apr 2, 2013, 6:37 am

    I don’t understand this.

    If the access to the bottle sucks, the probabilities for the bottle to survive should be better than 95%.

    OK – I’m late – the reason is a bottle 😉

  • Richard McLaren Apr 10, 2013, 9:51 pm

    All of this brings to mind Winston Churchill’s famous quote: “When one has been in a storm at sea, one loses one’s taste for white wine.” Before all of you white wine drinkers tear into me, know that PM Churchill was a sailor and was understood to be condemning anything weaker than, say, scotch. Cheers!

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