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Old 23-07-2008, 03:00   #1
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'Seamanship'

“Seamanship” is a word that we as sailors use frequently to reinforce or criticise nautical practises.

But I have noticed that the word seems to mean different things to different sailors.

A cruiser might consider “racing” as inherently bad seamanship whereas a racer might believe that never testing the boat and yourself is poor seamanship.

Given that we all aspire to practice good seamanship, what is the best philosophical definition or description that you have heard?
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Old 23-07-2008, 03:28   #2
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Seamanship equates to being SAFE.

I'm responsible for my crew and vessel. Therefore I should, in all manner of good seamanship, conduct myself accordingly.
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Old 23-07-2008, 03:44   #3
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I think that the question is much too broad to be answered in any meaningful way.
“Seamanship” has little significant meaning on it’s own, unless applied to a specific purpose, role, or function.

The term Seamanship generally describes all of the arts and skills utilized in handling, working, and navigating a ship or boat.

Adjectives and/or adverbs such as “good”, “safe”, & “effective” are usually understood to be included in the general term, and therefor add little meaning to the base term.
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Old 23-07-2008, 03:57   #4
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That is where the “philosophical” part comes in Gord.
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Old 23-07-2008, 05:11   #5
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Since seamanship is a technical term (with a definition), it doesn’t really admit to a philosophical examination. It is what it is - “the arts and skills utilized in handling, working, and navigating a ship or boat.”

How about a simpler discussion, such as art, beauty, morality, or "why didn't God make pi a simpler number?"

Trying to decide what constitutes "Seamanship" appears to be a search for rules.
The logical way to address the philosophical question, is to pose some
hypotheses (rules) and see how they stand up.
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Old 23-07-2008, 05:16   #6
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That is where the “philosophical” part comes in Gord.
Seamanship is more about getting back to work and less about philosophy.
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Old 23-07-2008, 05:25   #7
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Armchair sailing would be more about philosophical seamanship since no real boats are sailed so the question of skill is all philosophical.

In that context there would be the debate about if you are only as good as you think you are or is being better really important. Racing becomes timeless and cruising destinations become everywhere.
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Old 23-07-2008, 05:42   #8
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Wink

Quote:
Seamanship is more about getting back to work and less about philosophy.
...............
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Old 23-07-2008, 08:13   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
.... Trying to decide what constitutes "Seamanship" appears to be a search for rules.
The logical way to address the philosophical question, is to pose some
hypotheses (rules) and see how they stand up.
Seapersonship ?
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Old 23-07-2008, 08:45   #10
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Seapersonship ?
I refuse to recognize personholes and personhole covers.
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Old 23-07-2008, 10:33   #11
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How do you define pornography? The classic answer is "I don't know, but I know it when I see it." To borrow a phrase uttered frequently in the Navy, conduct yourself in a seaman-like manner. I can't think of a better definition of seamanship. I think about the interpretation of "prudent mariner" in colregs to help create an image of the ideal seaman.

Brett
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Old 23-07-2008, 10:36   #12
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How do you define pornography?
It's something my wife won't let me do...
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Old 23-07-2008, 11:54   #13
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Paraphrasing Justice Stewart’s famous comment that, I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it.*

Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 US 184
FindLaw | Cases and Codes
* ACTUAL: "I have reached the conclusion, which I think is confirmed at least by negative implication in the Court's decisions since Roth and Alberts, 1 that under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. 2 I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that."

I define pornography as the sexually explicit depiction of persons, in words or images, created with the primary, proximate aim, and reasonable hope, of eliciting significant sexual arousal on the part of the consumer of such materials, rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.

FWIW:
"Pornography" is a lay term, with no particular legal significance.
The term of legal significance is "obscenity", which, after struggling for many years and through many cases, the U.S. Supreme Court defined in Miller v. California in 1973. It is a three-part test, as follows:

"The basic guidelines for the trier of fact must be:
(a) whether "the average person, applying contemporary community standards" would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest, Kois v. Wisconsin, supra, at 230, quoting Roth v. United States, supra, at 489;
(b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and
(c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

Note that part (a) does employ community standards. However, all three parts must be met for a work to be deemed obscene, and part (c), as the Court has held elsewhere, is a national threshold, not a community test.
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Old 23-07-2008, 12:00   #14
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In language discussions, the two major factions are "prescriptivists" and "descriptivists".

A prescriptivist wants to define the correct use of language, and then expect you to follow those rules. A descriptivist wants to describe at how people are really using the language.

I am a descriptivist. I don't find any use in asking what a word SHOULD mean. I am only interested in what it really DOES mean.


On the original topic:

"Seamanship" refers to nearly any behaviour of a crew member that is connected to operation of a boat or ship. It normally comes in two varieties: "good seamanship" and "bad seamanship".

"Good seamanship" is something that the speaker/writer approves of. "Bad seamanship" is something that the speaker/writer does not approve of.

The difficulty with the terms "good seamanship" and "bad seamanship" is that it is hard to tell when the implied value judgment is based on engineering or aesthetics. If you want to make a useful statement, you are better off leaving out any reference to "seamanship" and actually describe the _reasons_ for your value judgment.
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Old 23-07-2008, 18:40   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Since seamanship is a technical term (with a definition), it doesn’t really admit to a philosophical examination. It is what it is - “the arts and skills utilized in handling, working, and navigating a ship or boat.”


Trying to decide what constitutes "Seamanship" appears to be a search for rules.
The logical way to address the philosophical question, is to pose some hypotheses (rules) and see how they stand up.
Interesting direction that some of you have gone with my original question. (That thread drift into pornography must only have come about with the miss-spelling/reading of the topic word.)

Gord, it was never my intent to define rules as ironically I think seamanship goes far beyond rules (that idea is also reinforced in Rule 2 Colregs).

Also Paul, the process of seamanship is very much practised mentally before you ever give the order to cast off lines.

What I am interested in is discussing that mental process with which we arrive at a decision relating to seamanship.

My own philosophical buzz phrase is “proactive pessimism” where I tend to look at the “worst case scenario” for any given nautical situation and then take positive proactive steps to either minimize the chances of that ever happening or at least be mentally prepared if it ever did happen… to minimize the damage.

I think the danger when you equate seamanship with rules is that you become blinded to the exceptions that exist in this fluid state when fate conspires to make you think outside the box.
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