The Worst Book Ever is ‘How to Avoid Huge Ships’

Gabe Habash -- July 21st, 2011

A few weeks ago, we did an article about the most hilarious Amazon customer reviews, a selection of snarky writings that poked fun at their respective subjects. But for as fun as those reviews were and for as bad as those books were, one book in particular, more so than any that appeared on that list, has unleashed the full fury of internet sarcasm: How to Avoid Huge Ships.

Currently only available from nine sellers, the lowest price sitting at $131, details about this mysterious book are scant. What we do know is that it’s written by Captain John W. Trimmer, and that it’s 112 pages. And that’s about it. But it has a deep underground following, appearing in both a New York Times article and a Cracked article, partially because of its oddness, but also because of its slew of customer reviews, which set all kinds of new sarcasm records.

Here are some of the highlights:

A book for the ages, December 12, 2010

I was jogging around the block when all of a sudden I was almost struck by a huge ship! Thankfully I had read How to Avoid Huge Ships. I have lived to tell the tale and now I only hope future generations read this lifesaver.

Reads like a whodunnit!, December 21, 2010

By
Citizenfitz (The salt grainery) – See all my reviews
I bought How to Avoid Huge Ships as a companion to Captain Trimmer’s other excellent books: How to Avoid a Train, and How to Avoid the Empire State Building. These books are fast paced, well written and the hard won knowledge found in them is as inspirational as it is informational. After reading them I haven’t been hit by anything bigger than a diesel bus. Thanks, captain!

Wake Up, Haters!, December 13, 2010

By
I’m a little annoyed with the sarcastic “reviewers” of this book. You all seem to think it’s funny that some people would honestly like some expert advice on ways to avoid huge ships. What, you’ve never been traveling at a very, very slow speed straight toward something really, really big that you could see for miles and miles away, and wished you’d known what steps you could take to avoid crashing into it? Well, all I can say is “congratulations!” What’s it like to be so perfect? You haters just keep on enjoying your huge-ship-collision-free little fantasies. I for one am going to buy this book and learn something, because I live in the real world, where huge ships and the dangers they present to people like me are actually a serious issue.

Large beamed, please!, January 6, 2011

By
Altair Voyager (Registered, Bahamas) – See all my reviews
I am a huge ship. Imagine having an entire book devoted toward actively avoiding you and your kind. I have always been bigger than other ships – and yes, I have endured years of being moared in the distance, never being able to enter the shallower bays, requiring tugs to guide me in – but now THIS! Mr. Trimmer, you sir, should be ashamed! Please do not be swayed by his drivel. I ask that you judge me not by the size of my cargo hatch but rather the content of my wheelhouse.

A HUGE ship changed my life, December 13, 2010

By
Chester Huffy (North Stripper Pole, NV) – See all my reviews
It is a perfect example of the cruelty of fate- my life was forever changed by a huge ship. It was the winter of 1991, 2 years before Cap’n Trimmer published this masterpiece. If only I had known… the wanton destruction that only a huge ship can do to life and limb and all smaller vessels. My bonnie wife and I had set sail in our beloved scupper, ‘Nam Chowder (a pun from my years in the Navy). We were heaving to in the deep and treacherous waters off Cape Hatteras, when lo and behold a ship appeared, as sinister as Poseidon in denim cutoffs.

“O wife!” I called out. “A huge ship approaches!” But right at that moment, the huge ship sounded her horn, and my cries were drowned out in the overwhelming din. My fair wife continued to snack upon Exxtreme Olestra Pringos with reckless abandon- and so focused on these leakage-inducing sweetmeats that she failed to notice the huge ship, barreling towards us at a blinding 6 knots. I screamed like a hyena, bellowed like a bull, but so intense was her snack craving that my warnings were ignored. Finally I rushed towards the bow, to snatch the bushel of crisps from her unsightly maw and force her help in avoiding our certain shiply doom, but my extremities became tangled in the rigging and I could do nothing but struggle as the huge ship continued its advance, closing within a few hundred cubits.

“Lord, hail this ship and allow us safe passage, I beg of you!” I cried, but it was no use. God and his minions have no time for foolish adventurers upon his seas, who disregard the dangers of huge ships. And so it was, that a huge ship smashed our boat into splinters, and my wife was keelhauled for an eternity, her lifeless, bloated body finally floating to the surface in he wake of the huge ship, still clutching her snak pak. My body was torn assunder, and I sustained such horrific injuries that I shudder to recall that terrible day. Know that I peck out this review with my eyelashes, for the huge ship took everything from me save the use of my facial muscles.

Although he will not admit it, Cap’n Trimmer wrote this book in honor of my late wife, Grossinda, for her memory lives on in every book sold, so that the world may know of the dangers lurking in the bowels of every huge ship. Make no mistake, huge ships are out there and their hunger for fresh souls know no bounds. May everyone read this book and commit to memory its passages, and Grossinda’s demise will not be in vain.

It is my creed- to find the huge ship that took everything from me. Armed with this book and the grace of God, I will get my revenge. HUGE SHIP- I COME FOR YOU!

Much better than the sequel book, “How To Run Over Little Boats.”, December 13, 2010

By
After reading this book, I relized exactly what I was doing wrong everytime I was run over by bardges on the mighty Mississippi. I always played dead and hoped the boats would go away, like I was taught by a book I read, “How To Survive Bear Attacks.” I guess I thought the lessons taught by that book applied to everything life, but it clearly meant just bears. Now I am surviving the waterways better than a BP oil rig.

TOO Informative., December 25, 2010

By
Dan (Ontario Canada) – See all my reviews
Read this book before going on vacation and I couldn’t find my cruise liner in the port. Vacation ruined.

Now I know what that steering wheel thingy is for, January 30, 2011

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.

A Parent’s Review, February 20, 2011

As the father of two teenagers, I found this book invaluable. I’m sure other parents here can empathize when I say I shudder at the thought of the increasing influence and presence of huge ships in the lives my children. I certainly remember the strain I caused so long ago for my own parents when I began experimenting with huge ships. The long inter-continental voyages that kept my mom and dad up all night with worry. Don’t even get me started on the international protocols when transporting perishable cargo. To think, I was even younger then than my kids are now! huge ships are everywhere and it doesn’t help that the tv and movies make huge ships seem glamorous and cool. This book helped me really approach the subject of huge ships with my kids in an honest, open and non judgmental way. Because of the insights this book provided, I can sleep a little better and cope with the reality that I can’t always be there to protect my kids from huge ships, especially as they become adults. I’m confident that my teens, when confronted by a huge ship, are much better prepared to make wiser decisions than I did. At the very least my children certainly know that they can always come to me if they have any concerns, questions or just need my support when it comes to the topic of huge ships.

32 thoughts on “The Worst Book Ever is ‘How to Avoid Huge Ships’

  1. Spencer

    I wonder if Amazon will deliver it to my boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Or maybe “One Click” me back to dry land when I see one of these Huge Ships.

  2. Roy Ennis

    Captain John W. Trimmer stole many of the ideas in his book, “How to Avoid Huge Ships” from the book I wrote thirty years ago, ” ‘Port’ has Four Letters, ‘Starboard’ has More (letters): ‘Left’ Has Four Letters, ‘Right’ Has More (letters). If you want to turn left, which doesn’t have that many letters, turn to the port, which also doesn’t have that many letters. And Remember….if you want to turn right, which has quite a few letters, turn starboard, which also has quite a few.”
    Quite a long title I know, but it certainly grabs the interest of the reader, as evidenced by the large number of copies I sold. The title of Chapter One in my book,
    The Red light has fewer letters than the Green light, so Red goes on the left (port) side because it has fewer letters. Chapter Two is simply called “Green:Right,Starboard”
    Clearly, you can see from these few examples how badly I have been ripped off by Captain Trimmer. If any body knows his whereabouts, I have a Harpoon with his name on it.

    Captain Roy Ennis of the ship
    Knot Home, Go Away

  3. terry meyer

    Folks, sorry, while the comments are hilarious and well delivered, avoiding big ships is a very big problem.
    In the daylight, your binoculars can tell you if the boat is coming at you or away. But at night. All you see are the ship’s light patterns of red, green and white. In various arrays – the vessel is either heading toward you, or away from you by various degrees. Because Many big tankers are on autopilot (no one is at the helm), its a good idea to be able to read the light patterns. I have personally been in a situation at night, at the helm of a little (47′) sailboat in the big North Atlantic. I attached to my safety harness to the pedestal while on my 2-6am watch. Spying an assemblage of lights off my stern. I woke the skipper- cause I do not read lights! Skipper said “maintain course”. This scenario repeated itself over an hour. Finally, I roused the skipper who told me to turn the spreader lights on. Which is sort of scary cause it implies the skip hopes someone on the big ship is looking out for little ships. Anyway, I jumped down the hatch to reach the electric panel where the spreader lights toggle lived.
    My safety harness held me back – swinging in the companion way like Mary Martin in Peter Pan.

    It is funny in retrospect. But you can bet your sweet behind- that book would be on my reading list before I do another ocean voyage.

    1. cTo

      Oh no, I totally get what youre saying, but…it seems that the basic information you need to be able to interpret the boat lights of large tankers could be printed on, like, a laminated card, instead of an entire BOOK.

      1. SYLOH

        Interpreting the lights is just the start of ship navigation.
        Right of way is probably the bulk of the book.
        For example, a ship flying the “Ship out of control” flag/light combination is rapidly approaching from astern.
        Do you have right of way, or must you deviate course?

        Answer is, that technically you have right of way, you may continue your course and he has to drop anchor or otherwise slow down. Simply because he is astern and this overrides the “Ship out of control”

        However, etiquette might require you to get out of his way.

        Also don’t get me started on how right of way works on sea lanes.
        Its like driving a highway where you can’t see the road and the road signs are all just lights in the distance. And there are no traffic lights. And the big rigs on the roads have no brakes.
        And often times the big ships are confined to specifically dredged channels while you can maneuver better. Did i mention that the straight line speed of a huge container ship is often much greater than your piddly sailboat.

        This brief aside lasted a paragraph, you could easily go into an entire book, which apparently someone has.

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