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Old 26-06-2014, 15:19   #1
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When is a Captain not a Captain?

I thought this was a funny read....

Sail-World.com : When is a Captain not a Captain?



The first time a smartly dressed Customs officer came on board our boat, his chest ablaze with brass buttons, and asked with a thick accent 'Where is the Captain on this ship?' I tried not to giggle too obviously. We had a 'Captain' on our 'ship'? - a 45ft cruising boat? We were somewhere in the Middle East and I concluded that he was not very accustomed to dealing with yachts and skippers.

I did get used to it, but since then the habit of referring to the skipper of a boat as the 'Captain' seems to have surged in popularity. So the following, written by long-experienced American cruising skipper, John Harries, made me smile all over again:


I just can’t stand it any more. I tried to ignore it, I really did, but it’s no good, I have to say something.

What’s making me crazy is the current fashion for recreational mariners, particularly on VHF radio, to call each other 'Captain'. This seems to be confined to the US, although it is spreading to Canada too. As far as I know that’s as far as it has got…I fervently hope so.

You can call yourself 'Captain' if you are:

A serving officer in the Army, Airforce, or Marines with a rank one below Major.
A serving, or retired, officer in the Navy with a rank one below Admiral.
You have an unlimited tonnage all oceans master mariner’s licence and command a commercial vessel at sea, which almost always requires four years at a recognized maritime university and several years serving at sea working your way up the ladder through various mate positions to command. You would also be entitled to use the title in retirement.
You sit in the left pilot seat in a large transport aircraft.

To quote Bugs Bunny, 'that’s all folks'. (Actually I don’t know for sure that there are no other positions that are properly titled 'Captain', so if you know of one I missed, please leave a comment.)

You are not a Captain because you have a US Coast Guard 100 ton licence or a RYA yacht master. Heck, I have a good friend who has a Coast Guard 500 ton licence and has served as an officer on tall ships for over a decade. She does not call herself 'Captain'.

If you command a yacht, you can call yourself 'Skipper' or, if signing something official, 'Master'. But you are not a Captain.

Not only do we look ridiculous, particularly to commercial mariners, when we call ourselves 'Captain', it is also extremely disrespectful to those that have put in years of study and sea experience to earn that title legitimately.

You wouldn’t call yourself 'Doctor' after doing a three day first aid course would you? Or 'Reverend' just because you go to church regularly? Or 'Professor' at the end of your first year of university? Or 'Engineer' because you did two years of shop at high school? Ok, I’ll stop, you get the idea.

Now I know that none of us yachties that do this mean anything bad by it. In fact, I think it has become a kind of verbal tic. But, none the less, let’s stop. Please pass the word.

©2014 John Harries, Attainable Adventure Cruising. To read more of John Harries' always entertaining and extremely useful information, go to his Reference site and blog
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Old 26-06-2014, 16:00   #2
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pirate Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

I shared your giggle initially.. now it just makes me want to puke.
Got lured into joining a site today for delivery skippers.. buga all there yet except 21 hopefuls including me but what pisses me of is I'm listed as a Captain.. and I can't seem to change it yet..
or anything else they've written up on my profile..
Don't want to be grouped in with those ego tripper 6 packers I've met on the E coast..
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Old 26-06-2014, 16:24   #3
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

The USCG is partially to blame. They refer, as far as I can tell here in Annapolis, to anyone with a simple six-pack license as a captain.

In addition, here on the east coast I find that in bridge-to-bridge comms on 13, you get referred to as captain by commercial mariners. It seems to be the simple common shorthand for "person in charge" these days.

You can rail all you like against semantic evolution, but that's not going to stop it from happening.
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Old 26-06-2014, 16:32   #4
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When is a Captain not a Captain?

I would partially disagree. A captain is a licensed mariner in charge of a ship ( or yacht etc). The term in the marine world does not carry specific licensing. The term can be interchanged with master, commander etc


In many non English speaking jurisdictions the term " captain " just means the person in charge
Dave

The term " skipper" is merely an analog for master or captain


The term captain has defined in the navy or army is entirely different and does not relate

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Old 26-06-2014, 17:58   #5
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

My tickets say "Master" not captain.
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Old 26-06-2014, 18:04   #6
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

When we check into and out of countries, the forms always need the name and signature of the captain. Also, the officials are always demanding to know who the captain of the vessel is. Should I be refusing to sign these or answer on principal?

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Old 26-06-2014, 18:29   #7
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pirate Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
When we check into and out of countries, the forms always need the name and signature of the captain. Also, the officials are always demanding to know who the captain of the vessel is. Should I be refusing to sign these or answer on principal?

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It always pays to be polite to the natives..
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Old 26-06-2014, 18:35   #8
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

I've always replied, "I am the Skipper" and have always considered and referred to myself the Skipper.

But I like "Master" - I think I will start calling myself that - I feel my power growing already!
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Old 26-06-2014, 18:37   #9
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

[QUOTE=colemj;1572824]When we check into and out of countries, the forms always need the name and signature of the captain.



My wife always puts her name down for that, no matter where we go.
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Old 26-06-2014, 18:57   #10
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
I've always replied, "I am the Skipper" and have always considered and referred to myself the Skipper.

But I like "Master" - I think I will start calling myself that - I feel my power growing already!
I always call myself 'Master'. Well, whenever I'm baiting a hook anyway.


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Old 26-06-2014, 19:03   #11
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

Much ado about Nothing!

I happen to have attained a master mariners license and I am comfortable being referred to as Captain by my commercial peers.

By the same token, there are many members on CF who in my opinion have earned my same respect because of their impressive world cruising experiences in command of a small craft.

If you don't feel you have eared the right to be in command ....then you should question why?

Personally, I don't include racers or chronic solo sailors in that list, since neither show respect or humility at sea to maintain a proper lookout and proceed at a safe speed.
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Old 26-06-2014, 19:10   #12
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

Master; commander; skipper, captain - whatever. Just remember, there are lots of people referred to as 'Captain'. Proper uniforms may be a help when checking in to to foreign ports.
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Old 26-06-2014, 19:27   #13
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

This upgraded self promotion is epidemic with T-Topped 250HP O/B bay boaters who fudged their way to a USCG OUPV SixPak license and now think they command a CVN.


^^^^Nicholson58 #12:
Arrrr mateys!
Bear off, bend on the topgallants, stow the cannon, make all way. Nay we dunna goan tick off Captain Kangaroo an' rue t'day!!!!
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Old 26-06-2014, 20:16   #14
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

Quote:
Originally Posted by IslandHopper View Post
I thought this was a funny read....


You can call yourself 'Captain' if you are:

A serving officer in the Army, Airforce, or Marines with a rank one below Major.
A serving, or retired, officer in the Navy with a rank one below Admiral.
You have an unlimited tonnage all oceans master mariner’s licence and command a commercial vessel at sea, which almost always requires four years at a recognized maritime university and several years serving at sea working your way up the ladder through various mate positions to command. You would also be entitled to use the title in retirement.
You sit in the left pilot seat in a large transport aircraft.

To quote Bugs Bunny, 'that’s all folks'. (Actually I don’t know for sure that there are no other positions that are properly titled 'Captain', so if you know of one I missed, please leave a comment.)
I think there may be more to it than he thinks. :-)

captain |ˈkaptən|
noun
the person in command of a ship.
• the pilot in command of a civil aircraft.
• a naval officer of high rank, in particular (in the US Navy or Coast Guard) an officer ranking above commander and below commodore.
• an army officer of high rank, in particular (in the US Army, Marine Corps, or Air Force) an officer ranking above first lieutenant and below major.
• a police officer in charge of a precinct, ranking below a chief: captain of the 20th precinct.
• the head of a precinct's fire department.
• the leader of a team, esp. in sports.
• a powerful or influential person in a particular field: a captain of industry.
• a political party leader in a local district.
• a supervisor of waiters or bellboys.
verb [ with obj. ]
be the captain of (a ship, aircraft, or sports team).
DERIVATIVES
captaincy |-tənsē| noun
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the general sense ‘chief or leader’): from Old French capitain (superseding earlier chevetaigne ‘chieftain’), from late Latin capitaneus ‘chief,’ from Latin caput, capit- ‘head.’
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Old 26-06-2014, 22:06   #15
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Re: When is a Captain not a Captain?

I'm my boat's master (and commander).

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