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Old 26-01-2013, 07:51   #1
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Will the Real Sailor Please Stand Up

I have often toyed with this in my mind ever since I was on ships. I never owned a sail boat, nor know anything truly about sailing, nor have I ever sailed on a sail boat. I am however, very much attracted to that life style, at least for a few weeks, months. I am not interested in really living on board a boat instead of a home, but wouldn't mind sailing to various island destinations, especially the ones that are off the beaten path.

My experience with "Sailing" is really on motor vessels or ships. The Merchant Marines I shipped with always called it "Sailing" with this person or that person even though it wasn't really sailing. And I was not a Merchant Seamen, but rather a military contractor assigned to military leased MSC ships.

So this is what I was getting at. When I shipped on board these vessels, I remember asking myself, "Who is the real sailor"? Is it that person that navigates his own vessel, whatever that vessel may be? Is it that tug boat captain? Is it the crew members that keep the vessel running, or free of rust? Maybe there is a distinction, maybe the question shoud be, who are the real "SEA GOERS"? Who has the distinction of being more "Nautical" than the other? Is it based on destinations visited? Is it based on length and time at sea, or the love of the sea? Is it based on nautical miles logged?

My thought was that the real sailor were the ones traveling on sail boats, going to where they wanted to go, to their choosing, on their coin, and performed their own navigation. While on ships, I had no say so to where I was going, nor did I perform any navigational duties whatsoever on the vessel. My duties had nothing pertaining to the vessel itself, only performing fire and boat drills and riding the ship from place to place. But I know deep down inside, that I've logged thousands of miles in roughly 5 years of shipping with hardly any breaks in between. My body squeaked of Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Mediteranean, Caribbean, Atlantic, and them some.

Then there was military like the Navy, or USMC for example, riding the high seas on warships, some doing it for a career, going to off the wall off the beaten path destinations and hot spots. I was kind of in the same game working Department of Defense contract. I had alot of dealings with Merchant Seamen and Military in my line of work. I was a military equipment mechanic. I even performed duties such as chipping and painting, or corrosion control on Navy literage equipment.

Then there are FISHERMAN that venture out to places like the Flemish Cap near Iceland that come back with super nautical stories and horrendous weather conditions only to go back out and do it again, and many losing their lives in search of profit.

Then I have seen CUNA Indians of Panama in the San Blas islands swimming from island to island in groups holding conversation while in the water swimming together, unafraid of sharks. They go free diving for lobster and giant crabs to sell to the tourist. That seemed to me like the most nautical people on the planet after seeing this. Not to mention, they make enough money to own their own boats. They may look primitive but they are not dummies, and they understand the economical world.

And of course, the Filipino is pretty much born and bread on an island with the ocean thrown at them at times during typhoons, many of whom ship as Merchant Seamen or fishermen all around the world. To land a job working the sea such as a Merchant Seamen, is highly coveted and hard to land and when they do, they seem to hang on to it forever.

So in general, we have alot of people that work and make their living from the sea on boats. From people working on huge vessels, to fishermen, to yacht owners to military types. I always viewed the yacht person to be pretty nautical while I was riding the huge vessels. Take for instance, the time I went to the Salomon Islands on the Chagos Archipelago and we ran into a lone yacht person sailing across the Indian Ocean. Everyone on my ship seemed to think this man was lucky and everyone wanted to do what he was doing or talked about it. This was 25 years ago. After thinking about this, WE were the ones that I think had it made then. Here I was riding a vessel, steak and lobster every Friday, just doing my job and someone else steering the vessel, with my own private room, and food served to us at our table in the galley, earning money at the same time, getting plastered on Diego Garcia at the Seaman's Club and having hamburgers at Diego Burger, and eating lobster once again at the officers club in Diego Garcia. But I was on Diego Garcia as long as my job was there, at least the Yacht person was going to go somewhere not so isloated such as Chagos, and back to real civilization.

Anyhow, what do you think? Will the REAL SAILOR PLEASE STAND UP? Who is the real nautical type, sea goers, to you?
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Old 26-01-2013, 08:23   #2
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

When I was a swabbie in the Navy, I started out as a Deck Ape and became a Navigator. When I learned to sail, I already had almost 60,000 sea miles and thought of myself as a Sailor. When I joined the Merchant Marine as an Able-bodied Seaman, I was a Seaman. When I worked on wooden purse seiners, I was a Fisherman. When I put together sailboats for Clair Oberly, I was a Rigger. When I painted boats and did brightwork, I was a Refinisher. When I ran charter boats, I was a Captain. When I booked passage to Europe aboard a Polish Ocean Lines freighter, I was a Passenger. All through the past 50 years at sea, I always considered myself a Mariner. Thanks for an intelligent presentation of a very intelligent question, Shipmate. Fair Winds, JLS
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Old 26-01-2013, 08:38   #3
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

Hey, very good answer Jonathan. A MARINER sounds pretty nautical to me. A Jack of all traits at sea definately is highly cherished and valued.
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Old 26-01-2013, 08:53   #4
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pirate Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

Sorry mate... just a simple seaman here...
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:05   #5
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

I'm a sailor, simply because I sail. (Therefore, I am?) I don't sail in 10 meter swells at the Flemish Cap, and in fact, any weather at all, and I run for shore screaming like a girl.
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:11   #6
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

... I don't know the point of asking or answering that question, especially on a leisure-boating forum. Who's not getting proper mariner cred or elbow-room at harbour bars? Who or what do you want to out as not being proper 'sailors'?

The topic reminds me of this:
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:18   #7
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That is an INCREDIBLY long post to get to a question with no real answer!

But for me...the REAL sailors died when VHF and GPS and epirb were all suddenly required for a safe voyage! Meaning I'm not a real sailor...Sooooooo I'll just sit down over here...
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Old 26-01-2013, 09:21   #8
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pirate Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

I wonder about the phrase 'More Nautical'...
For me the more 'Nautical' a conversation gets the more technical and boring it becomes...
So lets have some 'Outings' so's I know which end of the bar to avoid... bullshitters are so much funnier...
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:13   #9
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

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Originally Posted by ElGatoGordo View Post
That is an INCREDIBLY long post to get to a question with no real answer!

But for me...the REAL sailors died when VHF and GPS and epirb were all suddenly required for a safe voyage! Meaning I'm not a real sailor...Sooooooo I'll just sit down over here...
Hello fat cat. Navigational aids are all tools. Like an early Astrolabe. It just has gotten easier to navigate in modern technology like everything else. You still have to operate your tool correctly to get you there. And you still have to perform your seamanship duties. If you talk celestial navigation, maybe the real navigators were the ones whom traveled the Sahara utilizing the stars. Or the islanders of the sorol atoll in the Pacific. You live in Kemah? I like that place there Joes Crabshack overlooking the water. Stay nautical my friend.
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:24   #10
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

[QUOTE=Lake-Effect;1140064]... I don't know the point of asking or answering that question, especially on a leisure-boating forum. Who's not getting proper mariner cred or elbow-room at harbour bars? Who or what do you want to out as not being proper 'sailors'?

Who do I wish to out as proper sailors? How about a tractor driver in Iowa? He be a proper farmer.
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:39   #11
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

Nice post - a lot more effort went into it than the average contribution here (especially mine!).

At risk of trying to define the undefineable and in the full and certain knowledge that I will fail, my take on a real Sailor is:-

Someone who voyages far and wide (whether as a job or for fun) and whilst not neccessarily enjoying himself does nonetheless get some sort of underlying satisfaction from the occupation, even if only at voyages end! Could be anyone from a deck hand to an Admiral, to a receational Skipper or a fisherman - but simply holding those positions does not make "you" a real sailor (although some probably more likely to require a real sailor than others). Probably also someone who is self-sufficient, not neccessarily could whittle a raft out of flotsam and jetsam if the vessel they are on gets sunk by a Kraken! but nonetheless would not have an attack of the screaming vapours - if not already be composing the tale to go with events whilst they are happening! On which note. a real Sailor will have stories!, not all of them to be taken litterally but nonetheless will involve the unusual - whether afloat or in port. Probably always knows where he is located in relation to the sea, whether that is 100 yards or 1000 miles and the bearings don't get past the principal points of the compass. I think also a time factor involved, likely in the years........parrot optional!

Other than that it's simply a loose and generic job description.
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Old 26-01-2013, 12:41   #12
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
I wonder about the phrase 'More Nautical'...
For me the more 'Nautical' a conversation gets the more technical and boring it becomes...
So lets have some 'Outings' so's I know which end of the bar to avoid... bullshitters are so much funnier...
That was the problem with Diego Garcia. Everyone wanted to be great bullshitters but it wasn't cute anymore after hearing the BS day in and day out. I'll stay on my end of the bar thank you very much.
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:01   #13
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

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Nice post - a lot more effort went into it than the average contribution here (especially mine!).

At risk of trying to define the undefineable and in the full and certain knowledge that I will fail, my take on a real Sailor is:-

Someone who voyages far and wide (whether as a job or for fun) and whilst not neccessarily enjoying himself does nonetheless get some sort of underlying satisfaction from the occupation, even if only at voyages end! Could be anyone from a deck hand to an Admiral, to a receational Skipper or a fisherman - but simply holding those positions does not make "you" a real sailor (although some probably more likely to require a real sailor than others). Probably also someone who is self-sufficient, not neccessarily could whittle a raft out of flotsam and jetsam if the vessel they are on gets sunk by a Kraken! but nonetheless would not have an attack of the screaming vapours - if not already be composing the tale to go with events whilst they are happening! On which note. a real Sailor will have stories!, not all of them to be taken litterally but nonetheless will involve the unusual - whether afloat or in port. Probably always knows where he is located in relation to the sea, whether that is 100 yards or 1000 miles and the bearings don't get past the principal points of the compass. I think also a time factor involved, likely in the years........parrot optional!

Other than that it's simply a loose and generic job description.
Aha. Interesting response here. You hit something I was trying to zero in on. And probably the main motivator in my shipping escapades. Adventures to be able to RELAY to others. STORIES!!! Most sailors, mariners I experienced in my shipping days involved STORIES. Here is a great example.

Saipan. I was on board a vessel in which we lost our anchor in MAUG. Long story short was the anchor dropped, and hit bottom, but the chain apparantly fell over the edge to an abyss and dragged the anchor down, quarter of a million bucks lost never to be retreived.
About a few months later, I go into this bar on Saipan and talking to this boat captain that had sailed with his parents on a sail boat in Polynesia years ago when he was a kid. I viewed this guy like he was something else and I could never touch his nautical stories.

When I heard him talking about that ship that had lost an anchor in the northern part of the Marianas, I told him I was there on that vessel when it happened and explained in detail what went down as an eyewitness, everyone in the bar was listening and saying "WOW"...That was an awesome story to them. I even met the crew that was hired to try to retrieve the anchor as they went up on a tug boat. They explained to me in detail that the anchor was way down there, beyond reach and they even filmed it.

Another time we got hit coming into Manila Bay by another vessel putting a hole on the side of the ship. I later took some time off and went to Baguio in the mountains about a six hour bus ride from Manila for a little bit of a getaway. There I mentioned at the Swagman hotel that I was off a ship in Manila. An american expat told me he knew someone that was visiting Philippines from Diego Garcia from a vessel there with the MPS ships. I later talked to that guy and explained to him what happened in Manila. He got a first hand account from someone on a vessel. These were all 13 sister ships scattered in Diego, Guam, and Conus/Mediteranean. I told him our ships name and he thought it was the most interesting thing that ever happened.

So don't sell your nautical experiences short. Some story to you may seem unworthy of discussion, but when you tell it to someone else with similar experiences, they will listen. Especially sea stories. I'm enjoying browsing through this forum and reading some of these experiences. Internet. Great tool.
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:32   #14
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Re: Will the Real Sailor Please Stand Up

I think sailor is a more general term like lubricant for instance. You have tug captains, tanker captains, commercial fishermen, cruisers, all sailors. You have oil, grease, transmission fluid, all lubricants.
If you wanted to define the most hardcore sailor, IMO that would be the solo circumnavigators. (that word kinda looks like circumcising alligators, now THAT would be hardcore!)
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Old 26-01-2013, 13:37   #15
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Re: Will the real sailor please stand up

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I'm a sailor, simply because I sail. (Therefore, I am?) I don't sail in 10 meter swells at the Flemish Cap, and in fact, any weather at all, and I run for shore screaming like a girl.
Hey, me too! I screamed for over 1000 miles!
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