What is a sailor?
10 September 2012 | Thailand
Hot and wet
Is there a psychological profile which typifies the average sailor? In considering this, one firstly needs to define the average sailor. Under the term, do we include boat owners who spend their weekend's faffing about in their craft, which remain permanently affixed to the dock by ever deteriorating dock lines?
Initially, I thought I shouldn't. But then, I remember a period when my boat remained in the marina for four whole years during which time I visited every few days and carried out maintenance and improvements, but work and other important considerations kept me from sailing. Yet with a lot of miles previously under the keel, I never considered myself to be anything other than a sailor.
Is that then also true of the 'experts' who own and live aboard craft of doubtful seaworthiness which take up space on hardstands around the world, while they booze it up in the sailing club bar: All the while offering advice to people who really care about their boats and the art of sailing and who realize the difference between brass and bronze?
Maybe they're more trailer park dwellers than sailors but, in a perverse sort of way, they are living a de facto cruising lifestyle. They live on a boat, they don't work much and they are always grubby and wear crappy clothing. The more enthusiastic of those encompassed by this sub-genre, will start drinking when they get out of bed, smoke fit to create their own local biohazard and know more about the theory of sailing than do most practical sailors.
The activity which most defines sailors is, not surprisingly, sailing. There are racing sailors, cruising sailors, weekend recreational sailors, live-aboard sailors who don't really ever sail and the aforementioned quasi sailors cum bar-flies.
Is there any one thing which is common to sailors apart from the obvious? Are we generally gregarious or loners running away from, or toward something? Are we people who don't want to participate in the hurly burly of daily life; or who have had enough of cynical politicians, taxes, motor cars, barking dogs, Sunday morning idiots with lawnmowers, loud music and potholes in the road?
Are we just average people who are a little more motivated that the others? Is it that we just seek adventure, or want to travel in our own mobile home? Or are we adrenaline junkies whose lives are improved by frightening the living daylights out of ourselves by occasionally putting ourselves in some sort of marine peril?
Are you a lifelong sailor or a mid life crisis convert? Did you buy a pair of moccasins when you bought a boat; or a silly hat with an anchor on it, or do you walk around with a riggers knife on your belt even when nowhere near the boat.
Is there a significant proportion of yacht owners who can be classified as 'typical'? Perhaps not. My personal attitude toward my peers is to make friends with the good guys and avoid the bad. If you do that your life will be much better than it would be otherwise.
Presumably one typical shared interest is the love of boats. How we use them is perhaps what makes us different and who is to say what is right and what is wrong in the manner we express our appreciation of the object which ties us all together?
Owning a sailboat doesn't make one a sailor....sailing it does! But how often must you sail and what level of competence must you have to be considered a sailor?