The seamed and weathered face of Humphrey Bogart, shown left at the wheel of his 55-foot yawl Santana, is known to the movie-going public as perhaps the meanest ever to leer down the barrel of a loaded automatic. To Mrs. Bogart (the actress Lauren Bacall), it is known affectionately as the face that "looks as if it had run aground." Around the slips and moorings of the sun-washed marinas of California, however, it is the well-respected face of a dedicated skipper who would rather sink to the bottom than be called a party-boy yachtsman.
"Listen," snarled Bogie, casting a cold eye on the SI reporter, "I don't want those people to think, here's another one of those Hollywood sailors. And I don't want to be made to appear a horse's neck to the sailing group I belong to. I don't use a boat to drink on or to chase dames on. I use it to get away from things. Hemingway said that the sea was the last free place in the world, and I respect it and love it. I've been sailing since I was 6 years old, and I don't want to be made into a clown."
He took a sip of the Jack Daniels highball he held in his hand and looked disgusted. Across the room of his Holmby Hills mansion, his pretty wife sighed and rolled her eyes to the skylighted ceiling. "Bogie takes his sailing very seriously," she said soothingly. "You'll have to be patient."
Bogart took another sip of his drink and quieted down for the moment. In Hollywood there's an old saying about Bogart attributed to Restaurateur Dave Chasen: "After 11 o'clock at night, he thinks he's Bogart." It was only 11 o'clock in the morning, but a nasty spring rain was blowing against the windows, the whisky had too much water in it ( Bogart is recuperating from an esophagus operation), the conversation was proving an ordeal and Bogart was ahead of schedule.
Actually, his wife explained, the off-screen Bogart has a duality of citizenship. In Los Angeles harbor and the seas to the west and south he's Captain Bogart of the Santana, an ocean racer which has won him many a yachting trophy despite being eight feet too short in the mainmast, the fault (as Bogart explains) of "some stupid idiot" who changed it from a schooner to a yawl before Bogart bought it.
On shore Captain Bogart becomes Citizen Bogart, the Vice-President in Charge of Public Relations for a civic organization known as The Holmby Hills Rat Pack. In practice, Bogart frequently mixes the role but never the cast. His boat crew includes no Hollywoodites and, thus, as Bogart explains, no Rats. And the Rat Pack (which includes Restaurateur Mike Romanoff, Singer Frank Sinatra, Wife Lauren Bacall, Actress Judy Garland) has only one Rat who doubles as a sailor—Bogart.
"I have an eight-man crew and no Hollywood among 'em," boasts the sailor Bogart. "One of the gang is in the ad business. One is a purchasing agent. 'Course, the actor Jeff Richards is pretty good crew. And I take out Dewey Martin now and then. No, Dewey is not in the Rat Pack. He hasn't the instincts of a Rat.
"I can never explain to these Hollywood clowns with the ulcers what it is that I find so peaceful on the boat. I'm constantly being asked three questions about the boat by nonsailors, of which this town is full of: One, how many does it sleep? The answer I always give is, 'as few as possible.' Two, do you fish off it? No, because you get blood on the teakwood and you never get it off. And, three, what do you do on board? That's a complicated answer. I say, well, you sail to wherever you're going and you get tied up at anchor. In the morning you get up and wash down the boat—right away you can see their interest dwindling. Then you have breakfast and sit around in the sun. You keep gazing out at the horizon. Pretty soon you see a sail out in the distance. Somebody says, it's so-and-so, giving the name of the boat. Somebody else says, no, it's so-and-so. By then it's time for cocktails before lunch. Then you lunch and you take a nap. By that time the boat you saw is in and it turns out to be none of those your eagle eyes said it was and this is good for a lot of conversation and reasons why they thought it was who it wasn't. Then it's time for cocktails. Then there's the day when there are no sails on the horizon—and somebody is sure to say, 'I wonder why there are no sails on the horizon. Maybe it's foggy off the mainland.' And this is good for a lot of conversation and pretty soon it's time for cocktails before lunch just the same."
Captain Bogart settled, satisfied, back in his chair.
"I think sailing is an acquired taste," his wife said coolly. "I'm a creature of the soil." (Bogart swore loudly.) "I love old terra firma. I think the Queen Elizabeth is just the right-size boat."