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Old 24-08-2018, 12:52   #31
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

First time post so go gentle!!

Europe based, sailing in the Med mainly with the occasional jaunt into Atlantic. Recently got commercial offshore yacht-master tickets (with no intention to work in industry unless it’s running my own charter). Often sail with other YM’s recreationally and like a kitchen a boat can have to many cooks.

Although it’s my name on the boat charter / boat share we will take turns about being skipper with all that entails. Normally we do this 24 hours at a time.

Unless we clearly define who is skipper for the day and who is not the entire thing disintegrates into chaos. Ultimately I am the captain, for legal purposes and as such I can over-rule the skipper if I see fit. This has only happened once in practice - maybe a wee suggestion occasionally

It is important however that everyone knows who is “skipper” so actions are taken on command as appropriate, so you will hear the moniker frequently when we sail. Captain is never used, but might be if I get them into legal trouble.
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Old 24-08-2018, 12:59   #32
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Old 24-08-2018, 13:16   #33
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
My background, prior to my involvement in sailing, has been in environments where the use of honorifics (Mr., Mrs., sir., Dr., Prof., etc) is actively discouraged both in writing and in speech.


I certainly don't think that being master of my modest little craft entitles me to any sort of special social standing or linguistic treatment, and so I don't encourage anyone to address me as "captain" or "skipper." If someone addresses me in such a form, I tend to be skeptical of their motives and sincerity.


Do you encourage or discourage people from addressing you as "captain" or "skipper"? Do you use these forms of address when interacting with the masters of other boats? Why?
The USCG and Customs require that one person be designated the captain of the vessel. When clearing customs only that person can disembark to begin the process. So, there is a need to define responsibility here. At the same time it always bothered me to hear a couple, usually a husband and wife, referred to as the captain and first mate with hats to match. So, when we began serious blue water and coastal sailing, I suggested, to my then inexperienced wife, that we be skipper and navigator as a way of encouraging us to share responsibility and use our collective awareness in running the boat. When we disagree with a given situation, we slow down and sort it our. Out agreement has kept us from serious trouble several times. Two heads are better than one.
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Old 24-08-2018, 13:49   #34
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

In my former life my job title was Captain so doesn't bother me, just means I'm responsible for everything that happens on the boat. On the radio to CG, Navy Ships, etc. I use "sir" under the premise I'm talking to a watch stander, and the captain ain't on the radio.
I really do miss being served a "Sir" sandwich every now and then, you know "Sir, Yes Sir!". My wife only does it in a sarcastic context.
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Old 24-08-2018, 13:50   #35
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

Very well put!
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Yes not just an empty honorific, but a function, a job description.

Like Daddy, may imply respect or obedience, but really the main meaning is the tremendous responsibility the position entails.

Which of course many abdicate and abjectly fail at fulfilling.
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Old 24-08-2018, 13:51   #36
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

The nicest address I've had was being called "Mrs. Captain" in response to asking for a bridge opening. I loved it, all good.
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Old 24-08-2018, 14:01   #37
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

When we passed north through the bridges of Florida's east coast ICW, my wife took piloting duty through some of them, and the beam on her face was simply priceless every time the tended radioed to her "Captain, you are clear to enter and pass" and the only thing I regret is not taking photos of that look. My wife simply LOVED being called "Captain" and I would never take that away from her.

Now, when we are speaking with others in nautical context, I always call her, like some others here, "Admiral" but she really shone in the Captain role that week! Something I won't soon forget.
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Old 24-08-2018, 14:15   #38
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

I don't recall any specific case of being called "Captain," but some of those other things are used at me fairly often. It doesn't bother me much when used in a relevant context. As others have said, can be an implicit or explicit assignment of responsibility. When used out of context, it can be uncomfortable and a little weird.

If you introduce yourself with such a title, you are claiming responsibility or authority. To me, this seems warranted only in a specific situation where it is relevant. E.g. "Hello, I speak for this ship." When used out of context, (as seen on TV) such as introducing yourself at a party "Hello, I'm Dr. Rick Marshall!" it is a sure sign of a fake.
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Old 24-08-2018, 14:27   #39
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

I like Chief. Everyone knows they actually run the Navy.
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Old 24-08-2018, 15:17   #40
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

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Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
My background, prior to my involvement in sailing, has been in environments where the use of honorifics (Mr., Mrs., sir., Dr., Prof., etc) is actively discouraged both in writing and in speech.


I certainly don't think that being master of my modest little craft entitles me to any sort of special social standing or linguistic treatment, and so I don't encourage anyone to address me as "captain" or "skipper." If someone addresses me in such a form, I tend to be skeptical of their motives and sincerity.


Do you encourage or discourage people from addressing you as "captain" or "skipper"? Do you use these forms of address when interacting with the masters of other boats? Why?
Why take it so seriously? Whether I deserve the title or not (and in truth I don't) I AM the captain of my little ship. My heart soars just a little bit and it's hard not to smile - at least inside, when someone calls me 'skipper'. Certainly I would never encourage, expect, or demand anyone call me 'captain'. And I never had much use for titles or honorifics in my life ashore, either. But it's different (I think) when it's a friendly, casual sign of respect.
I have to admit that my use of 'Captain' to address the Master of a USCG vessel is a little more serious than when I address the owner of the plastic boat on the mooring next to us.
But it's hard for me to imagine taking offense, or worrying about ulterior motives, unless you're in a buy-sell situation or they're trying to weasel their way onboard.
We all share the same risks when going to sea, and they are real. I like to think it's a pleasant, traditional sign of respect between sailors. Nothing more, nothing less.
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Old 24-08-2018, 15:33   #41
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

Like many others on this forum I hold a 100 Ton License. I am yet to call myself Captain either on a charter or delivery.

I will abstain from my thoughts on 99% of those who refer to themselves as such.

After the charter many guests do refer me as Capt - usually as they give a nice tip. Likewise on owner assisted deliveries I earn the moniker “Capt” by my actions when things get challenging.

For someone who is not a licensed it would seem appropriate to refer to themselves as the Master of the vessel.
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Old 24-08-2018, 15:45   #42
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

Captain is a military rank, O-6 for the Navy and Coast Guard, O-3 for the Marine Corps, Air Force and Army. Those individuals should be addressed as “captain” unless they are very familiar to you.

I am a retired airline “captain” with an Airline Transport Certificate with a bunch of type ratings on it that allowed me to serve as “pilot in command” on certain aircraft (that’s what the FAA calls us). Nowhere on my certificates is the word “captain.”

I also have a US Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner Credential (formerly called a US Merchant Marine Officer License) which states that I can serve as “master” on a vessel for the operations specified. That document also does not have the word “captain” on it.

I have no problem being addressed as “captain” on the radio or in person by people in both the aviation and maritime industries who know my background or who need to know they are talking to the right person with regard to a particular situation. But I don’t go around wearing ball caps or tee shirts with “captain” stenciled on them and I don’t expect to be piped aboard my own boat.
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Old 24-08-2018, 15:49   #43
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

My neighbor was a judge. At parties his wife would refer to him as "The Judge" instead of Jerry. I was an airline captain. I told my wife if she ever referred to me as The Captain she would be at the rest of the party by herself as I would have gone home....

I do have a polo shirt that has my boat name and captain on it. When checking into customs being neatly dressed seems to make the process go a little smoother than for the folks in ragged t-shirts and cut offs. Not always but sometimes .
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Old 24-08-2018, 16:42   #44
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

IMNSHO, the use of "captain" as position description when addressing someone is perfectly OK. The use of it as an honorific / rank , unless it has been properly bestowed, is not.
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Old 24-08-2018, 17:10   #45
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Re: "Captain" and "Skipper" as honorifics

I will address nearby boat drivers as Skipper when I need to communicate.

I prefer to be addressed as “your grand exalted Pooh-Bah sir”

I consider Captain more appropriate for those professionally operating commercial or military vessels.

Expect to be addressed as Captain in various parts of the Caribbean.

Mark and Lynn, USCG Masters.
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