Sailor Stereotyping (with a grain of salt)

It’s easy to assume there are just two teams in the boating world: the sailors and the stinkpots, right? Wrong. Even among the sailboat crowd factions exist, sometimes serious but more often silly.

Wall walkers and twins. 
The divide between multihull and monohull folks might run deeper than the one between powerboaters and sailors. Catamaran sailors love to talk smack about their single-hulled side kicks, the most popular term of endearment is “wall walker.” Since heeling is a way of life, walking the walls of your boat is something monohull sailors see as normal and multihullers see as alarming. The single-hulled crowd might quip that “the twins are here,” meaning catamaran sailors are arriving. Of course monohullers won’t be the ones waiting for them to arrive, because cats always get there first. It’s all done in jest; multihull sailors still love their unimaran comrades no matter how late they show up to happy hour.

Multihull sailors are not a homogenous group either, and they can trash talk among each other. Those boxy production cats with the helm two stories up are often referred to as “condo-marans” by their sleeker-lined-cat cousins. Sipping a cocktail from a proper glass from their spacious salon, the condo-cat folks might just literally look down and retort, “Oh that’s a nice Homebuilt Hobo.”

Glued to the dock. 
There are sailboats that sail, and those that are more like floating apartments. And both are good. However once again within the same sailing tribe there is a watery line. It’s easy to poke fun at the well-worn Pier Princess that has a grass skirt on her bottom side and a ring of houseplants adorning her decks. The Dock Siders are awesome for knowing where to buy groceries, loaning you a car, or having some powertools or a super-fast blender onboard, but telling you the anchoring conditions five miles away, not so much. Some liveaboards get out now and again, and some have solid plans for cruising “someday,” but often the boom is off the boat and the engine hasn’t been turned over in a decade. These folks are delicately called Permaboards, for permanently at the dock and permanently aboard, often only known on a first name/ dog name basis and possibly hiding from the law. 

Cruiser crowd. 
Cruisers may unify behind poking fun at liveaboards, but there’s still division in their ranks. Sabbatical Sailors are the ones who carefully plan a finite dip into the cruising scene. They usually hang on to the house, stick to a schedule, and carefully plan their exit back to land life. Unlike cruisers who jump whole hog into the lifestyle, accepting the unknown as part of the everyday, Sabbatical Sailors know where they’re going, when, and for how long.

One of the largest groups of cruisers are The Golden Girls and Guys. These are the stereotypical retired cruisers who have all the right gear, matching Tilly hats, and an active social life afloat. They congregate on the beaten paths and the usual anchorages, sort of like the ending scene in the movie “Cocoon,” a floating forever happy place. Another type is the Snotty Yachtie, wearing their high-tech gear on a well-appointed boat with all the latest gadgets. And there’s the Sea Gypsies with a rag tag flock of shoeless children, all with deep tans and free spirits. It goes on and on, and we haven’t even touched on the racing crowd. 

These names and stereotypes don’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits or kill the camaraderie among sailors. Salt thickens the skin, and rum lightens hearts. There are so many ways to divide and label and categorize those who love being on the water, but what brings us all together, whether cruiser, racer, weekender, or liveaboard is a universal disdain for landlubbers.  

By Cindy Wallach