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What Cruisers Do

You Know you are a Cruiser When...

What makes a cruiser? Pitting oneself against nature instead of man...

What makes a cruiser?

By Daria Blackwell

Whether under sail or power, the difference between the cruiser and racer is mostly about pitting oneself against nature rather than against another human being.

When we set out to create this website, we decided to cover topics of interest to all sailors, including cruisers, racers and day sailors, with the intent of inspiring more people to get out there and do more of what they love to do – sail!  As we progressed, we discovered that it is not necessarily the form of propulsion, but rather a state of mind that makes the difference between the different factions.  In fact, we realized that, in a way, cruising sailors and cruising power boaters may have more in common than sailing racers and cruisers do.  In fact, having just taken a course and passed the test for the OUPV Captain's license, we realized that most of the fisherman out there are on the same wavelength. How interesting. You wouldn't be likely to meet a racing sailor taking this test unless they were planning some distance events.

The test of a cruising sailor is that he or she pits knowledge and skill against the forces of nature whereas the racing sailor pits himself and his gear against a human opponent.  The satisfaction of working the wind, the vessel, and the tides to their best advantage is often reward enough for the cruiser, and rarely if ever results in any public acknowledgement.  The feeling of accomplishment after a rough passage or successful navigation to a safe harbor is impetus to do it all over again.  The sense of awe and respect for a sturdy vessel and the seas upon which it sails never goes away.

Perhaps for this reason, most cruisers become very self-sufficient, relying on their own judgment and skill, mending and repairing gear as they go, and doing the “MacGyver thing” to figure out alternatives when supplies dwindle.  There is a huge sense of satisfaction in that, especially in today’s throw away society.  In fact, most cruisers can spend hours talking about their boats (and that’s before the cocktails) and carry photos of boats next to their loved ones.  Their lives tend to depend on both. 

Most racers must have the most current gear to stay competitive, including new suits of sails at regular intervals, new high tech gadgets, and new boats as the classes evolve.  Cruisers on the other hand develop deep rooted relationships with their boats, getting to know every aspect intimately, for only then will they be able to help the boat manage herself when she needs it most.   Not that cruisers don't like gadgets - they tend to have plenty of them onboard! It's just different. Imagine watermakers and generators aboard racing sleds! In fact, cruising boats can cost as little or as much as one is prepared to spend.  An old and inexpensive vessel may be just as suitable as an expensive one of current design, and a small yacht may be just as seaworthy as a larger one.  It’s likely that the cruising yacht will be sturdier in construction than a racing vessel, and thereby able to withstand more trying conditions for the cruiser is likely to be underway for longer periods. 

This brings us to the final distinction between cruisers and racers.  Cruising is still one of the few things that can be done freely without restrictions.   There is no prescribed route, no organizing body, no rules to decipher (except the rules of the road), no protests and no surveillance en route.  It is an activity that any independent spirit, man or woman, can do as long as they have the inclination and a vessel.  The sea is free and open to all, and those who share it also share a camaraderie.  They support each other rather than competing with each other (until they sail alongside) as if their world depended on it, which it often does.   

Here's to the mentality of the cruiser. Here's to the joy of cruising.

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