I was in Bermuda last summer shortly after the race from Newport when I noticed something I had not really paid much attention to before. We boaters are a motley crew to say the least! As I walked the streets of Georgetown I noticed there was a stark contrast between the way the tourists looked, compared to the careless, dishoveled look of the yachties. The tourists with their clean colorful shirts, fanny packs, and pasty white skin looked so neat and pressed compared to the riff raff that had just arrived in much smaller vessels.

                The sailors were always easy to spot, their hair was a tangled mess and they looked like they had not shaved in days.  Ladies of the group appeared to have lost their makeup bags overboard weeks ago although in their defense, looked a lot better than their male counter parts! (Of course that might have been the result of having just spent 7 days at sea with just two other guys to look at!)  Most of the sailors dressed in ragged T shirts and shorts wearing deck shoes that looked as if they had been salvaged from a beach on some far off island. Even the sportfish guys with their gold chains, cigars, and Rolex watches had a certain scruffiness that took a liberal dousing of sun and salt water to perfect.  The deep dark tans acquired over weeks in sun clearly separated the yachties form the much pinker tourist’s fresh off the cruise ships.

                I will say I am not at all ashamed of my lack of concern regarding my attire when I am out cruising. This after all is a tradition those of us in the boating world work hard to maintain. Well ok maybe we do not put much effort into it and let’s face it, it is more a form of diligent neglect than an effort. If you look back in history you will find most sailors tended to look pretty shabby, at least those not in a navy or yacht club! The pirates of course seemed to have taken this to a new level. Not only did they look shabby but somehow managed to look cool doing it. In some form we may all fancy ourselves a bit of modern day pirates. I personally think that being a pirate would be way too much effort. All that plundering, pillaging and such seems like it would be such hard work! Many of us could of course get aboard for the rum swilling part though.

                If you have ever run into someone in the real world that you have hung out with on the docks the contrast can be startling. You may not recognize that dock bum you have known for years at the local marina should you meet them on the street. Disguised in an Armani suit, neatly shaved with polished shoes you would never think that this is the person that just last weekend you swilled beer with while grilling Mackerel on the aft deck. This same person that you just assumed got their wardrobe from the Salvation Army now looks downright civilized! Only the tan and that mustard stain on their tie would give them away.

                Those who consider themselves yachtsmen and dress in fancy blue blazers with pressed khaki pants and a neat cap are simply not getting it in my opinion. We take to the docks and the waves to get away from all that impressing the Jones’s stuff. This is our time to let our hair down (Assuming we have any) and relax. This is our time to put aside the fancy trappings of civilization and all the superficial crap that goes with it. The fact that we all dress likes slobs removes the barriers of class and position.  That is one of the great things in the boating life, the fact that we can meet and hang out with anyone who will share a beer or rum with us regardless of how much we make or where we live in the real world. Out here, whether it is a tropical island or the local marina, we are all equals and all slobs!

Capt. Wayne Canning, AMS



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