Scuttlebutt Syndrome

What follows is a discussion of the newly named scuttlebutt syndrome found primarily among sailors:

Scuttlebutt is a favored term among sailors for how information can get relayed. As in,” scuttlebutt has it that mooring fees are going up next year.” Or, ” the scuttlebutt is that our next port of call in Naples got canceled.”

 For those not initiated into the watery ways of Poseidon or Neptunas Rex, the scuttlebutt was the large centrally located barrel of water on a sailing vessel that sailors could dip water from to quench thirst. Sailors would congregate and pass on news and events. The barrel is long since gone but, the term is still alive and well. Even those of us who have long since “swallowed the anchor” use the phrase with a certain reverence. Sailors are traditionalists and don’t appreciate unexpected change – unless it’s an extra tot of rum in their toddy; they love to pass on the scuttlebutt.

Scuttlebutt is not necessarily a source you should take when you visit the stockbroker, accuse your spouse of infidelity, or buy a boat. Especially buy a boat.

Perhaps something magical in seawater encourages an intrinsic change in a sailor’s sense of reality. The woman or man seems incapable of actually describing the last evening ashore in objective terms. It becomes the most raucous, magical experience of the cruise, and these days the phone provides photographic proof with blurry evidence. 

As a purely scientific experiment, ask a standardized series of questions the following day and two days after leaving port. The next day grunts and groans followed by a rush to the head are all you’ll get. But two days later, that evening transforms into a wondrous experience.

This seems to be a widespread phenomenon among Navy, Merchant Mariners, and civilian sailors and being that it is a worldwide phenomenon, we really can’t blame it on the sailor. No. They are poor victims of some toxic miasma of the sea that causes these figments to become a reality in their minds.

The only way this can spread is by waves. Waves can travel across an entire ocean in days. We do not know at this point how much exposure is needed to result in a full-blown case. We are applying for funds to study further this debilitating syndrome for which no known cure is known. We do know that taking the sailor away from the sea can make it worse.

 Our best advice currently is that parents not let their children become sailors. 

There is no known treatment. Neither Ivermcectin nor Hydrogen peroxide is beneficial. However, clinical trials of dark Caribbean rum show some promise as palliative care. Give the patient several drams, and they lose the ability to tell sea stories. This may not help the afflicted, but it offers relief for those who listen to the endless lies.

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