Friday, December 13, 2013

Cruising Talk: A Translation Guide

What is this woman talking about?
I hope everyone has read Michael Robertson's The Complete Guide to Caring for a Cruiser in this month's Sail.  If not, go on; I'll wait.  Back?  Okay.  Michael's article is a timely reminder that cruisers are, to put it kindly, a little different.  But I feel compelled to add on to his fine work.  Communicating with cruisers can be a challenge, whether you are a friend, relative, cruising spouse or simply a normal person.  Below you will find some common points of misunderstanding.  I hope this translation guide helps you to talk to the cruisers in your life.

Cruiser:  "Could you help me out here, Mavis?"
Cruising Spouse:  "Sure thing, Pete."
What the Cruising Spouse hears:  Pete needs some minor assistance for a few minutes.
What the Cruiser hears:  "Pete, it would give me the utmost pleasure to be your assistant/slave for the next eight hours."
Lesson:  Before agreeing to help a cruiser, ask for clarification regarding time, difficulty and dirtiness level expected.  Then triple it.
Hold that flashlight steady for me, would you?

Normal Person: [at a party]  So, what do you do?
Cruiser:  (making shifty eyes)  Oh... you know.  So what do you think of the new rules for the America's Cup?
What the Normal Person thinks:  Gosh, I was just trying to break the ice - I didn't realize Bob was unemployed.  I really stepped in it.
What the Cruiser thinks:  Why did that guy want to know what I do for work?  So I used to be a plumber/mechanic/lawyer/musician/chef/teacher/surgeon/intergalactic space pirate.  Big hairy deal.  Let's talk automatic stabilization systems!
Lesson:  To a cruiser, their work life is like a mysterious dream they have already half-forgotten.  They exist in a world of salt, sails and 10mm socket drivers.  Stray beyond those conversational topics, and you might just get a blank stare back.
This is what I understand.  This and nothing else.

Relative:  So, where are you going next season?
Cruiser:  We thought we would start out with the San Blas islands in Panama, then make our way north to Honduras and Guatemala.  If we have time, we'll hit Cuba on our way to Florida for hurricane season.
What the Normal Person hears:  Bob is going to Panama, Honduras, Guatemala and maybe Cuba next year.
What the Cruiser means:  We will travel somewhere between 90 N and 90 S, at a longitude to be determined, for an unspecified length of time.  Or maybe we'll stay right here, who knows.
Lesson:  Cruiser plans are lies, lies and more lies
Is this what I expected when we started out?  Not so much.

Land Friend: Bob, it's Stanley!  Gladys and I have two weeks off next April.  Why don't we meet you and Sylvia in St Maarten?
Cruiser:  (long pause, then speaking with difficulty)  We would be delighted to have you.
What the Land Friend hears:  Wow, Bob got really choked up when I suggested we visit.  I wish more friends from home would make the trip.
What the Cruiser hears:  I now have an appointment six months in the future.  I am immobilized with stress.
Lesson:  Cruisers fear the unknown future like cats fear a bath.  Yes, they want you to visit.  But the more definite your plans (dates, tickets, offers to pack seventeen jars of peanut butter), the tougher it is on them.  Ease your skittish cruiser into these details.  Better yet, just show up one day.  It's better for everyone.
Cruisers fear fixed appointments.

Cruiser:  I talked to the mechanic.  Fixing the [horrible broken thing] is going to mean hauling out for three days, and cost about $2000.
What the Cruiser means:  Fixing the [horrible broken thing] is going to mean hauling out for three days, and cost about $2000.
What the Cruising Spouse hears:  Fixing the [horrible broken thing] is going to mean hauling out for thirty days, and cost about $20,000.
Lesson:  You really don't want to know who is right, here.
While this is obviously too spacious to be a boat head, I'm sure you get the idea.
Cruiser:  I'd like a table for two, please.
Host:  Certainly.  Will sir be putting on a shirt for dinner this evening?
What the Cruiser thinks:  A shirt?  Darn it, did I forget to put on a shirt again?  Meh.  Let's sit down and have a beer.
What the Host means:  At least this one remembered pants.
What?  I'm wearing my formal welding helmet, aren't I?
I hope I've helped you to avoid some awkward moments with your cruiser this holiday season.  Please feel free to add your own cruiser translations in the comments.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious, and so true'...
Amy, you made me laugh early in the morning, which is a performance. You areca very talented writer. Thank you.
Fred (the guy who drank rhum & coke on papillon yesterday evening)

Anonymous said...

Love it! So true. So very, very, true. This reminds me of my dad and lucky for him he had 4 kids that could assist and my mom that waved the white flag many, many, many years prior.

Laughing up a storm (no winter pun intended) back in Canada and equally enjoyed our rum and coke on Papillon.

Cheers (I second, Fred - great writing continue your journey)!


Michael Robertson said...

I just saw this Amy, thank you for the kind words! Michael