June 28, 2012

These are the cruisers

A LETTER FROM “CURIOUS,” of Venice Beach, Florida, says: “I’m not a sailor but I read your blog now and then and I see you often refer to cruisers. What are cruisers and what do they do?”

Well, “Curious,” if you stand on a beach in Baja California at sunset, you'll observe beings arriving in small craft, attracted like moths to a large fire of driftwood. These are boat people, humans, Homo sapiens, hairless vertebrates, mammals walking upright on two legs and engaging in a ritual of bonding and feeding on meat burned over a fire.

Within moments of their arrival they’re drinking the fermented juice of grapes, mashed barley, and rye. But these are not the hunter/gatherers of bygone years. These are the wanderer/spenders. A few are wanderer/spongers, admittedly, but mostly they use money — a form of storing rewards for past work.

The younger ones, when the flames of the fire grow low, will pair off and disappear into the bush where they will eagerly divest themselves and embrace.

The older ones, particularly the males, will continue to drink from containers of glass or metal, talking all the while about their exceptional accomplishments and rhythmically rocking on their heels until they fall over sideways in the sand, whereupon their grumbling females will drag them off, tumble them into their small boats and transport them back to the mobile floating shelters they call yachts.

This scene repeats itself on deserted beaches in tropical regions all over the world — the Bahamas, the Florida Keys, the West Indies, the islands of the South Pacific, the lagoons of Madagascar and South Africa, wherever there is warm water deep enough to float a yacht.

These are cruisers, a peripatetic subspecies of Homo sapiens known to naturalists as "yachtsmen" and "yachtswomen" or "pleasure boaters," and generally acknowledged (in their own circles at least) to be the highest order of evolution of mankind.

Today’s Thought
Alone among all creatures, the species that styles itself wise, Homo sapiens, has an abiding interest in its distant origins, knows that its allotted time is short, worries about the future, and wonders about the past.
— John Noble Wilford.

“Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.”
(6)“Yes, would you prefer it on a side plate, sir?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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