Sunday, February 18, 2018

Where Have All The Manners Gone?

March 11, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Where Have All The Manners Gone?

Where Have All The Manners Gone?

I don’t get mad if I’ve shopped for lunch with friends on the boat only to have Mother Nature cancel my plans with all day thunderstorms. But I do get steamed after filling the boat with provisions for 10 people, only to have each and every one cancel at the last minute. And when friends invited to join my family for a day of boating said they would both join us “unless [husband] oversleeps,” I momentarily considered not inviting anyone along anymore to share the too few wonderful boating days we have on Long Island!

Hoping I wasn’t the only one whose guests ruin a boating day, I e-mailed readers and contributors to ask if they had similar rude stories to share. All who responded skipped right past no-show guests and instead shared blatantly rude behavior they experienced at the dock or onboard: From “R.”, the owner of a large sailboat: You want rude? How about inviting a big client aboard, only to watch him get drunker and drunker, and then thinking the VHF radio mic was actually for karaoke? My wife wouldn’t talk to me for three days after this jerk embarrassed us in front of other guests by trying to dedicate ‘80s songs to a teenage girl onboard.

J. Dahl, a North Shore sailor, wrote: There was the time some years ago when a friend from the days when we were both sailing instructors called to invite me on his new Catalina 40 foot sailboat.

I jumped at the opportunity and my wife and I were soon sailing with him and his gal, and another mutual male friend [on a long cruise]… Over the course of Five days, he and his gal remained mostly inebriated, while I ran most boat chores and many more watches than I should have. Yes, I got to really know how to sail this great boat. Lesson learned: make sure you know the current habits of your host and the ground rules for who will do what, before you leave. It’s too late to work up an agreement out in the ocean while you run a boat for someone who has become incapacitated. Also, be prepared to work your share and then some, as a guest who may have been invited to free the host from chores!

This response came from “G.”: My friend brought her twin 6-year-old grandkids. Not a surprise. What was a surprise was that both kids had runny noses and fevers which got worse by the end of the day (which we had to cut way short to bring them home). Sure enough we were all sick within the next two days and missed boating the entire Labor Day weekend.

A long time boater responded this way: Two summers ago we invited a couple aboard. They had had an argument earlier in the day and continued that coldshoulder and verbal retort throughout the day. It was very embarrassing because I had also invited friends of ours from outof- state who are religious, and kind to each other as life-partners. I have never invited them aboard again. This boater also added: On a boat you cannot ‘get away’ from people who are not getting along; and worst of all she kept trying to drag us into her crap.

Pete has seen rude at the docks: I’ve been at docks where boaters have unplugged a boat’s shore power line (not their own) in order to use the shore power outlet. No matter that damage could be caused to electrical components on the vessel!

Not to be outdone in the “do you have a rude story?” category, I heard this from “J.”: Is there anything ruder than inviting one couple onto our 22’ boat, and having them meet you at the dock with five friends of theirs? Oh, we figured you wouldn’t mind, they said! We promised our neighbors we’d hang out with them today!

As rude behavior did seem to affect other Long Island boaters, I sought insight from etiquette guru Lizzie Post (yes, she’s Emily’s great-great-granddaughter), the author of How Do You Work This Life Thing? With regard to cancellations, Lizzie reminded me that “Unfortunately, cancellations happen in life, so try to get a fill-in. Lots of people would love to spend a day on a boat!” But if your invitation is greeted with an insensitive remark such as “Sure, if nothing better comes along,” Lizzie advises that you should “take control. If the invited guest is not willing to respect you as a host, say ‘OK, since we really need a solid head count for this trip, let’s make plans for you to come out on a more casual day.’” On-board, Lizzie stresses how important it is that the captain set the guidelines, rules and responsibilities of the guests to make them both “aware and welcome”.

A rude boater requires the captain or first mate to take the same kind of pro-active approach as a dinner party host: change to a positive topic immediately.

Though space may be limited,“if you need to, take the person aside and explain what he is doing that is making you or others uncomfortable.” If the rudeness is tied into drunkenness, “stop serving the booze,” and if the person is out of control or safety becomes an issue, Lizzie cautions you may need to “end the experience and head back to shore. Explain to the others later that you’ll plan to go out with them another time.”

Whenever and wherever rudeness occurs, Lizzie Post’s advice will serve you well: “It’s your boat. You’re the captain!” In other words, cross off your boating invitation list those who never show, serve guacamole for 12 to the four lucky ones who do, and if need be, deposit truly unruly sailors back at the dock so you can return to a fun day of boating.

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