Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The diversity of sailors

The Coast Guard regards Morro Bay as the most dangerous harbour in the US. Tidal currents are running wild in the estuary, and a hazardous sand bar makes the entrance deadly in heavy seas. But Morro Bay gives good protection from the weather, once you're in.

The harbour is small, and often engulfed in fog. However, a harbour is not a good place if you're paranoid. People do talk. Especially in a tight place like Morro Bay, where there's a mix of fishing vessels and pleasure crafts.

I take it for granted that people working at sea have a tendency to be slightly annoyed by people who are just there to have fun. Pleasure crafts should always try to stay out of their way.

But a modern sailboat is a castle of high-tech solutions. Both boats and men are loaded with safety and information. In some cases you might argue that they not even there to have fun.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
Clearly there's a cultural gap between, say, fishermen and cruisers. There's a lot of showing off. I'm thinking it might be a feeling of inferiority on both sides, mainly because the sea is as it is, i.e. unpredictable and potentially deadly.

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen

photo: Henrik Nor-Hansen
This foggy morning, when we walked the docks, we started to talk about the US Coast Guard. They have a terrible reputation among cruisers, but our experience have been different. They did some showing off, outside Bahamas, but we haven't encountered harassment of any sorts. Quite the opposite, they've been friendly and professional.

We were standing by the Coast Guard for a while, watching the young men in snug uniforms. It's difficult to say where the knowledge is, the sea being as it is.