"These short stories capture the magic and mystery of men who are ready to sail into readers' hearts."
Seamen: from mariners on huge yachts to competitive sailors in races like the America’s cup to recreational boaters, the combination of men and water is irresistible. Whether they’re wearing Speedos or slickers and handling megayachts or windsurfers, these guys can set sail right to our heart. Neil Plakcy, the editor of Hard Hats, Surfer Boys, Skater Boys, The Handsome Prince and Model Men sailed the high seas and gazed through many a porthole looking for stories of navy men, yachtsmen, and even a pirate or two and the fun they get up to, on land and on sea. These naughty and nautical guys will turn you on with their large masts, from fresh-faced tan youths to the rich yachtie with silver flecks in his hair. Imagine watching those muscles work as they grind winches to set and control sails, steer from the helm, or tack a sailboard.
From River Rat, by Josephine Myles
His gaze had been dismissive the first time I clapped eyes on him, almost a fortnight ago. The sun had been making one of its rare appearances and he’d been shirtless, stripping down his engine on the towpath. I couldn't help staring at the grease mark across his tanned abs, wondering what his skin would taste like if I licked around it. I'd panned up to his face and realized I'd been rumbled. The moisture decided to desert my mouth like a rat from a sinking ship, and I almost went arse over tit stumbling into a pothole in the path as I scurried away. I might have been as tall as the boater, but I was a weedy art student, not a fighter, and wouldn't have stood a chance if he'd wanted to make something of it.
Of course, once I’d got back to my grotty shared house and locked myself in my room, I spent some quality time with my right hand, imagining what might have happened if he had decided to make something of it. This version involved sweaty naked wrestling, though, rather than the more realistic swift kick to the nuts and possible early watery grave. I conjured up the details I'd noticed in that brief glimpse of flesh: the brown nipples, the tufts of sweat-darkened ginger hair under his powerful arms, the rippling play of his muscles as he moved. I imagined being pinned down by him on the back deck of his narrowboat and taken without mercy. I came so fucking hard I swear I almost blacked out.
After that I took a stroll past his boat whenever I could fit it in around my classes. It wasn't far from campus, and I'd always used that stretch of towpath as a shortcut home, so I passed River Rat at least twice a day. I know it sounds desperate, but did I mention I had a kink for gypsies? It started when I was fifteen and just beginning to accept that this “fancying girls” thing probably wasn't ever going to kick in for me. The fair had been in town for the week, and my mates dragged me along saying all the fit birds would be there, and we could probably buy some beer from the Pakistani guy who ran the corner shop, as rumor had it he'd accept the dodgiest of fake IDs.
Turned out it wasn't just rumor, and as I’d strolled along with my head pleasantly spinning, I realized I'd lost my mates to a gaggle of gum-chewing girls. I wandered over to the out-of-order Ghost Train ride and spotted this carny leaning against the side, half-hidden behind the cheesily decorated facade. He was taking a break from tinkering with the generator and was smoking a roll-up. With his grease stained arms and bad-boy swagger, he definitely had that whole disreputable charm thing going on. My blood thundered to my dick as he ran a hot gaze up and down my body, and ten minutes later I was stumbling out of his caravan with an aching jaw and bitter taste in my mouth.
Since that rough and ready blowjob I'd fully embraced my sexuality (and a lot of other blokes along the way), but somehow that first experience had imprinted on me, and now whenever I caught a whiff of machine oil all that excitement flooded back. I know, I know, I should just date a mechanic, but that wasn't enough. I wanted someone reckless and footloose. I wanted someone who stuck two fingers up at the establishment.
I wanted someone like my river rat.
I'd caught sight of him a couple more times, but he was always busy doing things to his engine and I don't think he noticed me checking him outat best he'd give me a brief glare and get back to his work. Maybe he just thought I was staring at the boat. It was definitely eye-catching: jet black with the traditional signage on the side, the gleaming portholes, and the array of knotted rope fenders on the roof that the hand-painted sign announced he made and sold. I could see some of them in action, hanging down the side of the boat to prevent it scraping against the concrete bank. I wondered if all that knotting had made his fingers deft and skillful, capable of wringing every last drop of pleasure from my body.
I wondered if I'd ever dare say anything to him. It would be easy if he sat out on the bank crafting his stupid bloody fenders, because I could ask him something about that. I could pretend an artist's interest in handicrafts and engage him in conversation so he'd notice me. Remember me. Give me a fucking clue as to whether he was interested in other men.
But then last night I got my clue, and it was even more bloody frustrating. I was heading into one of the bars on Canal Streetone with a reputation for rough trade that I'd never dared venture into beforewhen I almost walked straight into him leaving the place. I could have kicked myself for spending so long getting ready, as he already had a tarty looking goth boy hanging onto him. I shot the drunken twink a death-ray glare, but when I looked up to my river rat he just gave me this apologetic leer and raised his eyebrows before steering his prize off in the direction of his boat. I thought I heard him mutter “See you tomorrow,” as they headed off, but I might have just been imagining things. I was so pissed off that even sucking off a huge biker in the toilets didn't do much to improve my mood, and his jizz could have tasted like the snakebite and black I'd been necking for all I noticed.
So anyway, there I was the next afternoon, walking along the towpath in my best pulling clothes, the painted on jeans and black silk shirt, only marginally soiled from last night's escapade. I'd used as much hair putty as I thought I could get away with before turning into a hedgehog, and lined my eyes with enough kohl to make Marilyn Manson look restrained. I was hoping the smug twink wouldn't still be there, but if he was, I reckoned I could out-goth him any day.
Only problem was, I'd left my coat at home because the sun had been shining, but now a cold wind whipped out of nowhere and went right through me. I should know better, living in Manchester, but I'd selected my wardrobe using my little brain rather than the one best suited for forward planning. I hugged my arms tight around me as I stomped down the stretch of towpath towards his boat.
It wasn't there.
Just an empty stretch of bank, strewn with litter and crowned off with the most almighty pile of dog shit I've ever seen. As the first fat drops of rain hit my face my eyes began to sting. Fucking typical. I was wearing cheap eye make-up that wasn't waterproof, and my favorite canvas shoes with the rainbow skulls on were going to get soaked through. Seems the weather had it in for me, as rather than easing into a light splatter, the rain started bucketing down and I was soaked to the skin in moments.
“Fucking bastard!” I screamed up at the sky, although whether I was shouting at some imaginary deity or the absconded river rat, I have no idea.
“There you are. Thought I might find you hanging around. Come on, you're gonna get soaked.”
I spun around to find him there behind me. The boater with the “fuck off” eyes. Except right now they weren't saying that at all; they were warm and he was close enough for me to see the amber flecks in the green. He wore a great big parka with one of those fur lined hoods which made me instantly jealous, even though you wouldn't catch me wearing one if it was the last item of clothing left in the world. I was too surprised to say anything, and he took hold of my arm with a firm grip and tutted, walking off and pulling me with him. I had to trot to keep up with his long strides.
“Come on, I've got the stove going and it's not far.”
“Why'd you move?” I eventually remembered to ask him.
“Easier than cleaning up that pile of shit, wasn't it? Fucking arseholes, shouldn't be allowed to keep dogs if they don't clean up after them.”
We headed under a bridge and the momentary shelter allowed me to rub my eyes, clearing them enough to see that familiar black boat on the other side. Unfortunately, clearing my eyes led to me getting huge smears of black over my hands. I looked like I'd been sketching with charcoal. God knew what state my hair was in. It felt like it had been plastered to my skullnot a good look for someone as bony as me.
My rescuer didn't seem to mind, though. I chanced a quick look at him, and he was squinting at me with a bemused smile.
“I'm Ryan, by the way,” I blurted out. He kept staring. “And this is the bit where you're meant to tell me your name.”
“Does it matter?” He leered. “You'll get fucked whether you know it or not.”
“Oh. I, uh... no, I suppose not.” I thought about it a moment. “But I won't know whose name to shout when I'm coming.”
He laughed at that and I caught sight of a gold tooth. “It's Kev, but most people call me Ratty. On account of the boat,” he added, which made me think he must have me down as a moron. Mind you, since all I'd done up until now was gawk at him, I suppose he didn't have much else to go on.
“I think I'd rather shout Kev, if it's all the same to you.”
From Croatian Sail, by Jay Starre
The Croatian laughed easily and reached out to place a hand on Grant’s shoulder. That hand settled over the area where his tank top left bare flesh exposed. Flesh on flesh. Andrej squeezed lightly and looked directly into his golden eyes. “I will be glad to do so. How would you like to go for a sail? I have my boat in the harbor and my day is free. So is my night. OK, Mr. Cute American?”
Dazzled by the gorgeous hazel eyes gazing into his own and the gentle hand warming his shoulder, Grant felt a hard-on rising in his shorts. He was ready to agree to just about anything. But sailing?
“Uh, awesome. But I’ve never sailed before.”
“Do not worry. I am a good sailor. Come, I will show you my boat and you will decide.”
Grant shouldn’t have worried about being too bold. This dude was that in spades, and spontaneous too it seemed. Exactly what he was looking for. A high school biology teacher in Des Moines, he’d grown disillusioned with his staid lifestyle. He seemed to have everything under control in his life, yes, but that was the problem. Too much control, not enough chaos. “Wow. Sure. I’m all yours, Andrej.”
That hand remained on his shoulder as the fair-haired Croatian turned him around and they descended the greenery-lined lane amidst the few other tourists who dared the morning climb - and locals who thought it ordinary.
“Here, Mr. Cute American. This is a pleasant view, yes?”
Andrej steered Grant off the lane onto a little side patio that jutted out above the roofs of the city below.
“Amazing! I’m Grant, by the way. Sorry I didn’t say so earlier.”
“It is OK. There, that house with the palm tree just to the right. That is my family’s home.”
Grant spotted the building amidst a sea of other red-tiled roofs. Some of those roofs were obviously much newer than the rest, and he understood why. The war of independence from Yugoslavia in the early 90's included a brutal shelling of this historic city, thus the newer roofs.
“My family has lived in this house for three hundred years.”
This was a stunning notion for Grant. “Amazing. How old is the house?”
“Five hundred years. And the wall you see all around the city? It was mostly built in the fourteenth century. Dubrovnik was a major maritime power and a rival to Venice during the fifteenth century and managed to remain independent right up to the nineteenth century. The salt trade and ship building were our city’s mainstays. That wall, huge underground granaries and water piped in from the mountains, along with crafty diplomacy, saved us from being swallowed up by invaders for many, many centuries. Marvelous, yes?”
The setting was as dramatic as its history. Palm trees rose amidst the red tiles while the architecture was a pleasant mix of Renaissance and Gothic, and the wall, still intact, surrounded it all. The city jutted out into the harbor, where Adriatic waters sparkled in the morning sunlight. Behind them, a mountain rose defiantly. Grant could picture the town bustling with life and looking much the same hundreds of years earlier.
“We call our city The Pearl of the Adriatic. But come, we shall sail away together and I will show you more wonders of Croatia!”
Andrej laughed and squeezed Grant’s shoulder again. The American’s cock was definitely hard by this time and he hoped it wasn’t too obvious bulging in his shorts.
By the time they reached the harbor below, the morning stillness had evaporated and a brisk breeze had sprung up, which Andrej appreciated but made Grant a little apprehensive.
“Wonderful! We shall have a good sail today.”
Painted emerald-green, the boat was smaller than Grant had imagined. It was not more than maybe twenty feet long, with two sails draped from the mast. He wondered when he should reveal to his hot new friend about how little he knew about sail boats, or any boats.
“It is beautiful, no? I built it myself. Well, my family helped. We have been shipbuilders for a long time.”
“Three hundred years?”
They both laughed and Grant was pleased that Andrej had a sense of fun about himself.
That would help. As they prepared to step off the dock and into the deck of the slightly rocking boat below, he was definitely growing nervous.
“It’s not that I’m afraid of sailing.....it’s just that I’m afraid of boats,” Grant blurted out.
Andrej took his hand and helped him down, smiling up at him. “There is nothing to worry about. It will be a little rough out in the open water but soon we will be protected between the islands and the mainland. You will see. If you have never sailed, then you are in for a brilliant experience.”
The Croatian had a very soothing voice, not especially deep but very engaging with a gentle lilt. He was also drop-dead gorgeous. Dazzled, Grant found himself seated at the back end and being handed a life jacket before he knew it.
He watched with awe as Andrej did everything necessary to get them out of their berth and into the open water of the harbor. He untied them from the dock and rowed them away from it with the large oars expertly. That’s when Grant realized there was no engine.
“What if the wind dies down? Do we have to row?”
“Yes. You look very strong, Mr. Cute American. I will let you do the rowing, yes?”
He laughed as he stowed the oars and slipped back to sit beside Grant on the bench in the rear of the boat. Then, with some cranking on a winch and releasing of ropes, the main sail billowed in the wind, snapped taut and they leapt forward.
“Wow! It goes faster than I imagined!”
The wind whipped past them as they carved a magnificent curve across the harbor and out into the Adriatic. “We’re going north! Hold on tight, Mr. American!”
His fear of boating was put to the test. The brisk wind at their backs not only filled the two sails with its energetic force, it whipped up the waves ahead of them. The little sail boat leaped and bounded over those waves, up and down, slamming against the water like a jackhammer, rising up again, then slamming down, over and over.
It was exhilarating. He gripped the seat fiercely, but was comforted by the look of absolute glee on Andrej’s face, rather than rictus of terror he imagined he displayed. As well, the sailor’s bare knee often pressed against his own and a free hand even dropped to squeeze it once.
“Brilliant, no?” Andrej shouted to him.
“Awesome! Scary as hell and awesome,” he yelled back.
Even though the view of the shore was rising and falling along with the leaping of the boat, he did take note of its dramatic beauty. High mountains were covered with scrub evergreen oak or barren with stone. There were vineyards with stone terraces, olive orchards, almond orchards and sheep bleating as they ran up the rocky slopes. And it changed by the mile.
In the midst of that slamming violence, Andrej turned to Grant and leaned over to kiss him. It was unexpected and took him off guard, but he managed to release his knuckle-whitening grip with one hand and reach around the Croatian to seize the back of his neck and hold him tight against his mouth.
The kiss was as fierce as the exhilarating leap of the boat beneath them. Tongues exchanged places, lips sucked and slobbered. But it was brief as Andrej pulled away and got back to the business of preventing them from capsizing and drowning.
Neil Plakcy’s fiction has appeared in the collections Cowboys, Hot Cops, and Best Gay Romance. The editor of Skater Boys, Surfer Boys and Hard Hats as well as the author of Paws and Reflect, he also writes the book column for GayWired.com. He lives in South Florida.
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Sexy Sailors is a nice collection of sailor and sailing-themed stories. Whether you are looking for a sweet, romantic story or a more lustful encounter, you'll find it here. There's certainly a story for every mood. One of my favorites was "Heat Lightning" by Neil Plakcy: a cute and romantic budding relationship story about two men in their 50s. The bashfulness between the two characters was pretty darnn adorable. Other stories, like "Red Alert: Weapons of Mass Erection" by Loga Zachary, take a different tone. While funny throughout, this story is definitely more explicit in nature than some others, but I found it to be an interesting read. If you happen to find sailors sexy (or are just looking for something new), definitely flip through this--even if just for the laughs (one author uses "tentacle" as a name for a man's tackle--ha!).