What makes a sailor? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 26 Old 08-24-2009 Thread Starter
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What makes a sailor?

I started sailing this summer, and have made a point to go out every weekend. And every weekend, I'm amazed at how many things I learn. (I've gotten to the point that I understand that the more I know, the more there is to know.) And while I have noticed that things are more intuitive now, and I feel like I'm starting to think like a sailor, I wouldn't call myself a sailor just yet. Which raises the question: at what point do you consider a person to have become a "sailor?"

Is it related to:
* how long (how many years?) they've sailed?
* how far they've sailed?
* how frequently they sail?
* their sailing knowledge, regardless of how often they actually get out on the water?

Would you consider "weekend-warriors" to be sailors? Many racers would fall into this category, and while they may know a lot about sailing, if they only get out for a few hours a week, is that enough, in your opinion?

Is it based on how sailing changes a person? For example, lately even when I'm nowhere near the boat (for example: on my lunch break at work) if I go outside and there's a nice breeze, the first thing I think about is what great weather it'd be for sailing. I also notice that in the back of my mind, I'm "judging" the wind, trying to figure out how strong or steady it is, and how my 20' scow would handle this wind...

I've read quite a few posts where people state that they've learned a lot, and love sailing, but wouldn't call themselves "sailors" yet. I understand the feeling - to call yourself a sailor after a few weeks at the lake seems like it might be a slap in the face of the seasoned salts that have spent countless days/weeks on the ocean. But the transition from "newbie" to "sailor" has to happen some time - when is it?

I know this is a very subjective question, and I imagine there will be quite a few different answers, which is why I thought this might be an interesting topic for the group. Fire away!

Dean Wilson
Melges M20 - The Can-Do Girl
Lake Perry, KS
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post #2 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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Great thread starter, Dean. I've been sailing for over 30 years, off and on, mostly on inland waters, some on the Chesapeake and other coastal waters. I will go out in weather that keeps other sailors home, but the more sailing I do, the more I realize I don't know. I tell myself, "when I get so I can do this and this and this, THEN I'll be a real sailor." However, as I pass each of those milestones, several more present themselves to be learned/experienced.

I read the comments of others on SN and other forums and say to myself, "Wow, now he/she is a real sailor!" I am in awe of some of those who share their experience and knowledge in these pages. I try to absorb every word in hopes that I will become a more competent seaman. Someday......

One thing is for sure. I love the feeling of helming a boat with a bone in her teeth. I love getting doused by spray coming over the bow, while trying to squeeze out another 1/2 knot of boat speed. I love settling into the groove where I don't even have to touch the tiller. I love crossing the finish line ahead of bigger, faster boats. I love being on the water in a boat powered by nothing but the wind, and knowing how to get from here to there when that same wind is against me. I hate being stuck on land when there's a good breeze blowing.

Am I a sailor? Someday......

Sailing isn't a matter of life and death. It's much more important than that!
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post #3 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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My opinion is that if you've helmed a sailboat from point A to point B without killing anyone, and if you've loved EVERY second of it - you're a sailor. But you ain't a salt.

I've always liked that quote that anyone can learn to sail a boat in a couple of hours, but will spend the rest of their life learning to sail it well. I think that nails it.

The best of the salts come on here and help the rest of us sailors on the latter part of that quote without worrying too much about the hierarchy of it all. They don't care about rank. They just love the sport/craft/tradition of sailing and want to pass it on to us newbs. That's the coolest thing about SN in my opinion.

If some cranky "salt" takes it as slap in the face when a newb calls himself a sailor - something's very wrong. This great sport needs as many new sailors as it can get. Why try to make it so "exclusive"?

From your description above, I'd definitely rate you sailor. And from Dork's "bone in her teeth" statement, I'd personally rate him a BFS sailor!

Last edited by smackdaddy; 08-24-2009 at 10:31 AM.
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post #4 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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Well Said

Very well said Smackdaddy. Not much I can add to that.

Dream like you will live forever. Live like you will die tomorrow. ( James Dean )
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post #5 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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a sailor has many traits, some on the water and some miles from it, to include but not only:

on land you find your self est wind speed
on water you look for where the wind is

come everybody add more
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post #6 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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A sailor is never complete - there is always something to learn.


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Popeye knows what it takes to be a sailor

Popeye The Sailor Man

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach.
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.

I'm one tough Gazookus
Which hates all Palookas
Wot ain't on the up and square.
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em
And always out roughs 'em
But none of 'em gets nowhere.

If anyone dares to risk my "Fisk",
It's "Boff" an' it's "Wham" un'erstan'?
So keep "Good Be-hav-or"
That's your one life saver
With Popeye the Sailor Man.

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man,
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach.
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man.

"Never pray for an easier life - pray to be a stronger person! Never pray for tasks equal to your power - pray for power equal to your tasks. Then doing your work will be no miracle - you will be the miracle." Phillips Brooks
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post #8 of 26 Old 08-24-2009
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I think that it comes down to how much you've screwed up. You're not a sailor unless you can write a book about the number of ways that you've mashed a piling. I'm well on my way - look at the Boneheaded moves thread

"Sailor"? Whatever. I like the water and will do anything that gets me near it, on it, in it, or below it. Hopefully not in rapid succession.

Sail or power? Obviously I prefer sail, but a classic mahogany Chris-Craft makes me drool.

Sailor? Who cares? I just wanna get on the water and not die. The rest is icing. Been 40 years and 14000 sea miles on boats and ships for work and pleasure. Still loving it (but I do hate bottom work)

Just go sailing and forget titles.

Sabre 38 "Victoria"
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post #9 of 26 Old 08-25-2009
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Wlhen is one a sailor? Think of it in terms of driving an auto. When are you a driver. When you first start? When you have driven for 5, 10, 50 years. A certain age. When you drive at 100 mph on freeway and duck through traffic. When you drive a race car at the tracks. When you drive a 18 wheeler. All are drivers, aren't they?

So if you sail just now and then, daysail, just started, cruise to the islands, race, or sail around the world, aren't you a sailor? Certainly in both cases, some are better at it than others, and some shouldn't be out there. But all are drivers or sailors.

Now that you are a sailor, it's important that you know you'll never learn it all, but keep trying. That's part of the fun.

And if you are still troubled by when to apply the term, avoid it simply by saying my sport or hobby is sailing.

Fair winds, sailor!
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post #10 of 26 Old 08-25-2009
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Sailor--One who sails, simple.

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I am not a prejudice racist sexist bigot. I just hate stupid people.
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