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Old 10-06-2013, 09:51   #1
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Is There a Caste System in Sailing?

Maybe this question has been discussed elsewhere but here goes...

From reading and watching videos online (I'm not a sailor yet!) I get the impression that there is a very strong caste system in sailing with many tiers.

So I'm asking for peoples impressions on the following?

1. Do you get the impression that some marina's price out the budget conscious cruiser in order to attract only an elite yachting class of customer?

2. Are there marina's where the rough and tumble liveaboard cruiser is not welcome?

3. Are there any stories of cruisers being badly treated in certain marinas? If so, Where? And do you find it's more prevalent in certain areas?

4. If the class system does exist, how many levels do you feel it has? How would you describe the differences and how do sailors differentiate?

Basically what I'm asking for is stories where you have experienced snobbery/elitism/preferential treatment based on your perceived ability to pay.

I believe in functionality above presentation. I practice reverse snobbery where I respect more the people who live highly functional low waste lifestyles....

Allio
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:02   #2
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

to paraphrase Groucho Marx, "never join a club that would accept you!"

dave
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:09   #3
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

Some marina might charge $12 per foot for a slip and that would keep out some cruisers and not others but I don't see that as a caste system. You can feel as mighty as you want regardless of your boat.
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:16   #4
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

Yes there is a caste system. But I have never noticed it as the Doorman escorts those beneath me away.

Except for women who are beneath me.


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Old 10-06-2013, 10:18   #5
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

The most obvious discriminatory system I've encountered while cruising relates to how well you seem to handle your boat. If the guys at the marina feel your docking skills and general seamanship will not endanger their facility, you'll probably be treated as well as they can manage to treat anyone. If, however, you're perceived as marginally competent or worse, you fall into the "untouchable" caste.

You can usually tell which category you fit into by the way they pronounce the word "Cap'n" when they refer to you. If it's clipped and short, it's usually respectful. If it's drawn out and sarcastic, guess what...
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:22   #6
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

IME snobbery and elitism comes with boats when the folks concerned feel that they won't need help from the peasantry. Pretty much the same as onshore!, likely why it seems to happen more in a Marina than in the Mud! (or on the hook).

Whether folks formalise that into a caste system and make money from that I don't know - but certainly if I owned a Marina and their was a market for "nice people" with "nice boats" I too would want peasants (like me!) out....they (we!) just make the place look too untidy. That ain't a caste system that just capitalism! Of course if the peasantry was the only market I had, the Marina would be very peasant friendly!......money to be made from poor people, if their weren't the rich would not keep so many of them around!
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:23   #7
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

why would any of this bother you OP anyway?

dave
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:47   #8
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

You are using language imprecisely. Caste systems are always built upon endogamy, the social prohibition against marrying outside one's cultural group.

Marinas are like bars. There are bars that specialize in $12 martinis where everyone wears a suit, and there are bars that top out at $2 pints and none of the clientele owns a suit.

I keep my boat in a marina where a 50' slip runs $1,000 per month. There aren't many project boats in that marina, because people who own project boats generally can't afford $12,000 per year moorage. Is the marina owner enforcing a caste system? No, he's just trying to maximize his profit. As long as he has a wait list--and his wait list is long--why charge the same as a half-empty marina full of project boats?

It's probably true that tenants in the pricier marinas don't want a DYI project boat to move in one slip over. For $1,000 per month, I don't want my neighbor to refinish his teak decks while the boat is in the slip, even if the boat is a Swan. That happened to me once, and after a month of sawdust and noise, I moved to a nicer marina. And guess what: the owner of the previous marina had a hard time finding someone to rent my vacant slip. I ended up paying a couple hundred dollars more per month for the new slip, and felt it was entirely worth it just to be able to have a sundowner in my cockpit while listening to the stereo.

Caste system? Nope. Just supply and demand.
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:58   #9
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allio View Post
Maybe this question has been discussed elsewhere but here goes...

From reading and watching videos online (I'm not a sailor yet!) I get the impression that there is a very strong caste system in sailing with many tiers.

So I'm asking for peoples impressions on the following?

1. Do you get the impression that some marina's price out the budget conscious cruiser in order to attract only an elite yachting class of customer?

2. Are there marina's where the rough and tumble liveaboard cruiser is not welcome?

3. Are there any stories of cruisers being badly treated in certain marinas? If so, Where? And do you find it's more prevalent in certain areas?

4. If the class system does exist, how many levels do you feel it has? How would you describe the differences and how do sailors differentiate?

Basically what I'm asking for is stories where you have experienced snobbery/elitism/preferential treatment based on your perceived ability to pay.

I believe in functionality above presentation. I practice reverse snobbery where I respect more the people who live highly functional low waste lifestyles....

Allio
My experience, in boating there generally seems to be more interaction between difference "castes" than on land. However, there is certainly some separation between different boaters and styles. Some observation on general differences but please note, like ALL generalities these are only generally true.

Racers and cruisers have very different mind sets and sometimes little common ground although there are plenty of ex-racers cruising and plenty of cruisers that race. Power vs sail is a big gap, I think the biggest gap in boaters is big fancy power boats vs small cruising sailboats. I was out one weekend on my ski-boat and saw a sailboat aground in the ICW. I motored up and offered to help but the owner/captain would not even answer me or even look at me, probably because I was in a little motorboat. Bet I have ten times the sailing experience that guy has but because I wasn't in a sailboat I was disregarded.

Regarding prices at marinas, I think usually the price is based on how much they can charge based on maximizing profit more than keeping out the scum. As far as "rough and tumble" cruisers being welcome or not, depends on what you mean by that. If that is a boater with a ratty old boat that looks like a floating dump who piles dead outboards and old boat parts all over the dock then I don't think they are welcome at many docks anywhere. Generally someone who keeps a clean boat, even if the paint is a bit faded, doesn't make a nuisance of themselves, and gets along with the neighbors is welcome most places. There are some exceptions.

And as already noted, your skills can separate you from the pack. Charter boats are sometimes operated by very inexperienced crew so may have to prove themselves before getting accepted into the fraternity.

Over the years I have dealt with on one level or the other with everyone from a guy who owned nothing more than his 40 year old wood boat to millionaires and even a couple of movie starts. Boating is a great equalizer and a common bond between most who go to sea.
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:58   #10
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bash View Post
Marinas are like bars. There are bars that specialize in $12 martinis where everyone wears a suit, and there are bars that top out at $2 pints and none of the clientele owns a suit.
Good analogy.
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:02   #11
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_Old_Jersey View Post
IME snobbery and elitism comes with boats when the folks concerned feel that they won't need help from the peasantry. Pretty much the same as onshore!, likely why it seems to happen more in a Marina than in the Mud! (or on the hook).

......
something cynical-yet- profound, here....

I am blunting it's apt focus, but I'm tempted to apply it to many sub-groups or "cultish?" population samples...ie: the Homeless Dumpster Divers and Harley Davidson enthusiasts, the Sailboats and Motorboats, the Golfers and the Hikers...
There are nice Rich people, but I don't meet them in My circle of aquaintances....God Save The Queen!
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:04   #12
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

If you have to ask if there is a caste system ... you just don't get it! Sailors, merely by embracing the lifestyle, have set themselves apart. An obsession concerning social place ignores what is best about the sailing lifestyle ... rich or poor, it is the siren call of the sea.

Now, move along and get off my dock! LOL!!!
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:04   #13
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

I must say , I like the policy of French public owned marinas. ( which most are)

First the public have free access to the pontoons, hence the marinas become a socal centre with the public intermixing with the sailing fraternity, families with kids in buggies etc. That encourages restaurants and cafes etc and prevents this "hide away" from the public marina issue.

Funnily there is no vandalism or general security issue, You can walk around Port Vauban and gawk at all the superyachts up close

Its prevents the rich ghetto " issue too.

dave
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:06   #14
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

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why would any of this bother you OP anyway?

dave
I don't think it bothers me per se. Other than I was watching a video about the antigua sailing week recently, and the video exclusively showed the million dollar boats, abercrombie and fitch sporting clientele and I was curious as to how the cruising world interacts with this group of people. If I turned up at an event like that in a rugged but well founded Vega 27 all wind torn from a 2500 mile solo transat, barefoot in a hawaiian shirt and a pear of jeans I'd hacked off at the knees, dropped my hook in the middle of the fleet, how would the rest of the fleet react?

It's more a curiousity thing?
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Old 10-06-2013, 11:17   #15
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Re: Is there a caste system in sailing?

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I don't think it bothers me per se. Other than I was watching a video about the antigua sailing week recently, and the video exclusively showed the million dollar boats, abercrombie and fitch sporting clientele and I was curious as to how the cruising world interacts with this group of people. If I turned up at an event like that in a rugged but well founded Vega 27 all wind torn from a 2500 mile solo transat, barefoot in a hawaiian shirt and a pear of jeans I'd hacked off at the knees, dropped my hook in the middle of the fleet, how would the rest of the fleet react?

It's more a curiousity thing?

It was probably just the choice of the person making the video. Those were the boats he or she found interesting. I've been to Antigua, and particularly remember a harbor with a wide variety of sailboats anchored. In fact, I have a water color painting of it (bought before I actually started sailing or even thought I would be sailing).
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