If you’re like that mermaid from Pirates of the Caribbean (or like me), the idea of dating a sailor, his hair wind-whipped gold and skin bronzed by the sun, might make you want to throw away your landlocked life for one of adventure and romance on the high seas.

1. You’ll mistake a sailor’s boundless enthusiasm for sailing for boundless enthusiasm for you.

I mean, there’s nothing more romantic than sitting perched on a deck box, shoulder to shoulder, watching a sailor’s skillful hands shape those endless bowlines and stoppers as he explains his methods. I mean, you totally had a moment there, right? But a second later, the wind will change and he’ll be rushing off to lower the mizzen, and you’ll be left sitting there holding a dangling rope, wondering if it was something you said.

2. Sailors mansplain and make you feel stupid.

Carrying all that ancient seafaring knowledge around with them, sailors are invariably wicked smart and can teach you things about currents and tides and maritime regulations that will leave your head spinning. But they are also chronically overworked and under appreciated, so sailors can develop a chip on their shoulder the size of the QE2…then take it out on you.

3. You won’t always be able to accompany him on his exotic windswept adventures.

The Galapagos? Zanzibar? Sri Lanka? Antarctica? They’re all at your fingertips with a sailor at your side. Of course, like the rest of us, you live in the real world, so one day, he’ll be watching the sunset over the yardarm in Bali, while you’re sitting at home consoling yourself with a weak Mai Tai and trying to keep tabs on him by watching a moving dot on MarineTraffic.com.

4. Sailors party harder than anyone.

Why wouldn’t they, when they just spent a month at sea stone cold sober, working 12-hour days? However, you may find the bacchanal ending abruptly when he flips the dinghy trying to get back to the boat at 4am after one too many Windhoeks. What do you do with a drunken sailor, indeed? Well, you could put him in bed with the captain’s daughter, but don’t be surprised if he passes out on top of her.

5. That postcard he’s frantically scribbling isn’t really to his mother.

Yes, a “girl in every port” is a saying for a reason, but it’s not that simple. If there’s anything a sailor likes more than having a girl in every port, it’s having a girl he’s known since high school to joyfully meet him when he gets home. Turns out there are more girls than you might think willing to spend their evenings huddled in front of marinetraffic.com…

6. Sailors think differently about monogamy than us landlubbers.

Speaking of that “girl in every port” thing, how is it cheating when you know you’ll never see the person again, and when his girlfriend could never possibly find out? You’ll think you can be cool and let him get away with it because well, he’s a sailor, and that’s what they do. Except that you’re still human and you have a heart, and you could be setting yourself up for a fall.

7. Sailors are uncivilized.

Hey, after two months at sea, crammed into a testosterone-fueled cabin with no contact with the outside world, you’d go feral, too. Still, be prepared for sloppy eating habits, rude sounds emanating from various orifices, and sea chests stuffed with pornography.

8. You won’t always share their sense of humor.

Sailors are hilarious, it’s true — they’ll crack you up with jokes they honed sitting in the wheelhouse during those endless night watches. But when you — or your body, or your sexual habits — are the target of the joke, as they inevitably will be, they tend to get a lot less funny very, very quickly.

9. Don’t expect to be whisked away on a luxury yacht as a reward for sticking around.

Sailors’ wages are always crap, and whatever money they do make goes on beer. Even if they do manage to save up enough money to buy their own boat (as all sailors are trying to do) chances are it will be a rotting hunk of junk, because boats are expensive to maintain. And even then, they’ll probably eventually sell it and go work for someone else, because sailors, by definition, always go where the wind blows them.

10. On land, be prepared to spend time in some dim, cramped apartment or trailer with no curtains on the windows.

Why bother paying for a nice house if they’re always going to be at sea, anyway?

11. Sailors casually joke about seeing prostitutes and see nothing wrong with it.

Despite the cliche, they may not always engage in prostitution, but they will definitely talk about doing so, in a way that you never can tell whether they’re serious or not.

12. They have their own language that unless you’re a sailor you could never hope to understand.

They will talk it with their colleagues endlessly while you’re in earshot, and forget to fill you in. It’s almost gale force 6, so I’ll go reef the jib while you guys lower the streech on the brum.

13. You always learn the hard way that they belong to the ocean, they belong to the world — and not only to you.

Sailors live on their charm. In a pub, the sailor is the one everybody wants to be near. They can spin you yarns for hours from all the ports they’ve seen, all the storms they’ve battled, all the sunsets they’ve watched. Their hands are strong, adept and gentle, and when they look at you, you can see fathoms you’ve only skimmed the surface of. And even after everything you just read, you’ll still give up that galleon of glittering gold just to know even one of those secrets.

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