September 16, 2014

On sailing like a gentleman

ON THE NEWS YESTERDAY I heard a recording of a man calling 911, reporting in a remarkably calm voice that there was a “gentleman” pointing a gun at people in a Wal-Mart store.
It struck me then that we’re losing all sense of what a gentleman is.

It also made me wonder what kind of boats gentlemen sail. But maybe it’s easier to mention the kind of boats gentlemen don’t sail. For instance, I can’t imagine anyone calling the Coast Guard to complain about being rocked by an enormous wake caused by a “gentleman” in a MacGregor 26 with an 80-hp outboard motor.

Gentlemen don’t sail Flickas either. At least, the people who run the Flicka 20 sailboat blog aren’t gentlemen. One large headline reads: “Vigor is an idiot.” This is followed by a drunken rant from a San Francisco architect  complaining about a chapter in my book Twenty Small Sailboats to Take You Anywhere. Not only was he drunk, by his own admission, but he patently hadn’t read the book, since he misinterpreted my estimation of the Flicka’s seaworthiness. If the Flicka people had any decency they would delete that libelous and ungentlemanly rant.

In general, gentlemen sail Folkboats and all boats by designers such as Herreshoff, Fife, Nicholson, Uffa Fox, Alberg, Crealock, Atkin, Chapelle, Lyle Hess and their peers. And it’s not true that gentlemen never sail to weather, as the popular saying insists. Any lady will tell you that gentlemen frequently sail close to the wind — but they’re careful  never to pinch.

I have personally known some real gentleman sailors, such as Hiscock, Gau, Bardiaux, Guzzwell and Moitessier, although, come to think of it,  I’m not too sure about Moitessier. He didn’t behave like a gentleman when he sneakily and illegally massacred all those seabirds’ eggs on Ascension Island.

And there are others I have read about — Roth, Knox-Johnson, Adlard Coles, Miles Smeeton, and so on. So I know they’re out there.Finally I would observe that nobody who anchors too close to you is a gentleman; and neither was Tristan Jones.

Anyway, next time you’re in Wal-Mart and someone starts waving a gun around, please remember to tell the 911 dispatcher that it’s a man behaving badly. Gentlemen simply don’t do that.

Today’s Thought
A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.
— Lana Turner

Tailpiece    
A limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

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

1 comment:

Edward Jones said...

There are many words in the english language that have lost all original meaning. For example the use of "Hero" when in reality the word "Victim" should be used, comes immediately to mind :)