I am old enough to remember when the editors and contributors to sailing magazines could really write. When sailing magazines were nearly the only communication between sailors. When sailing magazines served their readers and were not slaves to their advertisers. Each month I waited for Rudder, Yachting,
and, later, One Design Yachtsman
to arrive. L. Francis Herreschoff, Billy Atkin, Bruce Kirby, all great designers, were as good with a typewriter (remember them?) as they were at the drawing board. Even grumpy John Hanna, not a great designer
in my opinion, was at least an interesting read. And Alfred F. Loomis, W. H. Taylor...it was a golden age. Articles by men
like Eric Hiscock, Myles Smeeton, Robin Knox-Johnson...all gone now.
Here is an article evocative of another time, another journalism. I found it posted on a Good Old Boat
page while surfing the net. It was originally published in Rudder.
Some old (very old) copies of Rudder
magazine were donated to the Good Old Boat archives
some time ago. Here’s an editorial from the April 1948 issue that resonated with us.
A typical seaman, circa 1948
The typical seaman has developed certain traits which set him apart from shoreside people. Let us see what they are, just for the fun of it.
Seamen as a class are not excitable people. Early in life they learn to cooperate with the inevitable. They avoid pounding windward work if at all possible, they anchor
in a lee patiently waiting for a favorable slant, meanwhile resting, reading, playing cards, or just gaming.
The sailorman seldom hurries. He has learned the hard way not to run aboard ship, he has plenty of time to get where he is going, and on the way plans what he’ll do when he arrives. Those who run fall overboard
, and need not further concern us here.
The sailor develops foresight. It’s essential for survival, and the skill with which long passages were planned is amazing to behold. Ninety percent of the success of a voyage is planning, the rest execution. This holds true of yachts today.
The seaman learns to get along with people. He is tolerant and understanding. Close quarters aboard, different races and nationalities in ports
of call, make him a cosmopolitan, although he probably would resent this word.
Seamen are religious. They see the world on a large canvas
painted with bold strokes and vivid colors. Proximity to nature at its best as well as at its most terrifying makes it absurd to doubt the existence of a Creator. The sun, moon, and stars are his signposts and his eyes are often turned heavenward. He has looked into limitless space and found understanding.
The seaman is philosophically inclined. Long silent night watches make him contemplative, and he is given to esoteric searching.
The sailor is self-reliant and self-sufficient. He can do everything himself and takes care of all his needs. The classic example is that when a sailor sews on a button, it outlives the garment every time.
The yachtsman who carries on the traditions of the sea develops these traits to a large extent and brings them to his shoreside existence, with the result that he takes life easier, does not get excited about unimportant matters, and differs from his fellows mainly in the evaluation of life’s incidents, which he tries to bring into proper perspective. Upon analyzing them he usually finds they are too picayune to get heated up about and, taking another puff on his pipe, focuses his eye on the distant horizon beyond, which he plans to sail soon…