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The Cruising Community, Two Thousand and Sicks

The Cruising Community of the World is growing ever more polarized. This is sad. I get SO angry with people who don’t agree with me! Why can’t everyone associated with boating be exactly like me? I’m reasonable: I listen to their stupid little ideas with an indulgent smile. When did this ‘Balkanization’ of the marine community take place? I don’t know and increasingly don’t care. I mean, the other day I heard that even powerboaters now want to be treated as human beings!?! What’s next? Jet ski operators? Is there no end to this PC crap?

Let’s not look for easy answers. Sure, bareboaters are responsible for 99% of all the problems in the world… but what about the other one percent?

Yacht racers? Naw! They’re increasingly marginalized. Ever since the AC doping scandals (designers sniffing ‘blue print’ thinners, sailmakers smoking kevlar thread, and the actual boat builders themselves greedily snorting carbon fiber belly-button lint) well, they’ve fallen low in the public’s esteem.

Yes, they craved American media attention, but when they finally got it in the National Enquirer, Star and The Watch Tower… they didn’t like it, did they?

Crude chartering? Well, not ALL of the crews are crude, but, okay, callous insensitivity and customer rudeness IS an industry-wide problem. But let’s be sympathetic. After all, these ‘care-free chartering couples’ have extremely high suicide rates. I mean, if three charter guests in a row complained to YOU about the color of the stupid little umbrellas decorating their Pina Colas ("It doesn’t match the contact lens I’m wearing today, honey… could I have another one… a darker blue… or one with green stripes?")… might not swallowing your flare gun seem like a reasonable career option?

Thank God for West System marine-grade epoxies–– otherwise those glued-on charter smiles would surely slip after a day of ‘Do the islands go all the way to the bottom?’ questions. (My favorite VI charter guest brought a dozen small clear glass bottles with her… so she could ‘get lovely samples of all the different color seawater!’) Ah, yes! Try to deal with THAT 24/7 and maintain ‘sincerity of smile!’

Boat bums, of course, are another easy target. You know these ‘beach-comber’ guys: no teeth, strong odor… and when they get arrested for being drunk and snorting coke, naked, in front of a church full of children on Sunday morning, they yell at the arresting officer, "It is because I own a boat, isn’t it? You are singling me out, aren’t you, because I’m a member of the marine community? I mean, do you have ANY idea how much I pay the DPNR in dinghy registration? …well, without my $25 per annum… the USVI government would instantly descend into institutionalized chaos… that’s a fact, pal!"

The ferry boat operators are hardly corporate role-models either. Requesting their tickets be printed with ‘market-bearing’ blank spots for the dock boys to write in the ‘customer-customized’ price… well, they should have known that wasn’t going to fly.

Ditto, that each time a ‘bahn-hear’ steps aboard, a random tourist’s fare doubles.

The ‘cattle-maran cowboys’ of the daysail business only have a slightly better grasp of their professional reputation. (Yes, ceasing the use of bullwhips during loading went a long way in improving their ‘hospitality-industry’ image).

They’re highly regulated, of course, and have to follow strict USCG regulations: for example, they can’t pack people aboard so tightly that the passengers are forced to stand on one leg. That’s reasonable, isn’t it?

And their signage has to be up-to-code. ‘Don’t puke to windward’ and ‘Pee to lee’ are my two favorites.

It is the live-aboards, however, which take the cake. They are a strange bunch: people either too disliked to stay at home, or so dissatisfied with their place of birth that they are driven to sail around the world telling (briefly but forcefully) the unfortunate people they encounter how they should be more like the people in places they aren’t.

Does that make any sense?

If things really are so smooth and logical in New Jersey why not just stay there… what motivates them to sail to St. Thomas, Tahiti or Grenada… and tell the people there that they’re doing it all wrong?

Frankly, I’ve never met an honest boater who just blurt, "I didn’t like it where I was… so I’m sailing to other places… attempting to turn them into just as lousy of places as I left!’

Weird.

Ocean voyagers are even worse––especially the sad ones who are ‘circum-addicted’ to endless downwind drifting. They don’t even have the decency of the live-boards who, at least, confront the local residents face-to-face. No, instead these ‘endless voyagers’ just sort of ‘sail-passed’ and email their critiques home via the World Wide Web. "Tahiti was partly cloudy on the day we approached, so we passed it by, or "…unable to locate a tube of the specific L’OREAL sunblock we prefer, we skipped the rest of Africa… or "saddened to find tobacco sprinkled into our herb in Trinidad, we returned to Sardina post-haste!"

Oh, yes! I’m an American, that’s true… and you’d be amazed at how many of my circumnavigating countrymen ponder aloud, "Why… wherever we sail to… are there so many foreigners?"

It is, alas, a tough question. Why indeed?

So much of life seems straight-forward from an Euro-centric point of view. Why don’t the Palestinians just wake up one day, face the facts, and say, "…wrong God!"

And I haven’t even picked on the easy targets: those ‘sportsmen’ who enjoy manatee hunting with sharpened props, refuse to eat any fish which is old enough to reproduce, and who actually prefer lobster with eggs… their own, the lobster’s, that is!

Oh, yes, there’s some sickos out there!

There are actually boaters out there who PREFER anchor dragging to sailing. "Yes, we DO enjoy a good drag," admitted one. "With a little experience, why, you can read the bottom like braille! For instance, the jerky parts are reefs! And, if we unintentionally get hung up… well, we just reduce our scope. It’s easy, really, and we often bump into some pretty laid-back boaters…"

Yes, the Caribbean, after a decade or two of ‘enjoying’ the cruising lifestyle, can affect a person. "I’d heard there was a drug problem when I arrived but there seems to be plenty," is one comment you might not hear at the NYYC.

"He’s so straight… well, I’ve NEVER seen him drunk before noon," is another.

Where else in the world is sympathy generated with the statement, "After five years of anchoring in the harbor they wanted me to register my boat… free-of-charge, but still, it was the IDEA of thing… so I sailed back to Carriacou…"

Yes, cruising sailors are a cantankerous lot–– and I find it more than a little irritating.

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