Join Date: Mar 2007
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I have attended retirement ceremonies for members of my family that served as naval officers. These are very formal occasions, abiding by long held traditions of the sea, including much drawing and sheathing of swords, being piped aboard and ashore one final time by the botswains whistle, reading of final orders, and other ceremonial customs of the seafaring life.
As a recreational sailor who has not served in the navy, I would frankly be chagrinned if my retirement party mimicked the naval ceremony, because I would be being afforded an honor which I was not due. And if any service members were present, they too might take umbrage. We are also a superstitious lot, and accepting an honor we didn't rate would make most sailors uncomfortable.
There's nothing wrong with a nautical theme, of course. A "Fair Winds" cake, as was mentioned, is a good start. My best suggestion, if your friend is anything like the rest of us, is to thoughtfully acknowledge his avocation with a gift card to a leading purveyor of sailing gear. Sailors ALWAYS need/want more gear, and a gift card gives them an excuse to go out and splurge without feeling guilty about the budget (I hope my family reads this.) Good luck!