(This is the speech delivered by Poul Ammentorp at our 1995 Worlds banquet. It is mostly a translation of part of an article written in the early 1990s by Arne Stahlfest (above right with wife, Vibse, and Ralph Roberts) for the Danish W-Nyt - an article that reminds us of the importance of being polite to female crew.)
This is about Politeness. Politeness to ladies. In particular: politeness to ladies in sailing boats. I have often wondered why so few wives are sailing with their husbands when they could be enjoying the sea, him, "Gammel Dansk" (the Danish national liqueur), and nature spiced with the smell of rigging and "Old Spice".
The best answer to that question I got from the wife of a former Farum Sejlklub Fleet Captain, who said: "I can't stand the shouting and the abuse!" And therefore I would like to share my many years' experience regarding politeness towards ladies in sailing dinghies.
The question is: Will it pay off???? This is a very relevant question in our materialistic world. I can only answer with a very powerful story from real life where one wife got tired of the abuse and disappeared along with the three kids, the freezer with all its contents, the dog, the proceeds from the sale of the house, as well as the shares in the family yacht. Of course, being polite will also cost you every penny that you earn, but it does maintain your access to all the assets. Politeness is therefore a must when you are keen on sailing.
As it happens, the wife is most often put into the crew's position. This has to do with the fact that wives are used to pulling clothes onto struggling children and therefore have a natural talent for pulling in the jib sheet.
Command of the ship comfortably falls to the husband, most often because he was the first to take up the sport.
When you set out, it is important to create a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. The captain takes care of the following details: He takes the cover off the boat, gets the sails from the car and puts them on the boat, sponges out any water so that the boat will look inviting, launches the boat and hoists the sails so that everything will be ready when it pleases her ladyship to appear with her gear: Gammel Dansk and life jacket.
The captain is responsible for helping the crew on board, getting her comfortably seated while he holds the vessel and the painter. Now the captain enquires if his crew is ready to proceed. The crew nods and confirms her readiness by pulling in the jib sheet. This action results in heavy pressure on the "royal coach". So, as he is about to get pulled off the dock, the captain decides without delay to give the order to cast off.
Hurling himself off the dock, he seizes the tiller, pulls in the mainsheet, lowers the centreboard, adjusts the kicking strap and the mast bend. Remember to smile at the crew as you career wildly through the opening in the breakwater!
Now it is a fact that the captain can easily get upset - when somebody takes his wind, tries to pass him and the like. In such situations it is important to maintain the polite relationship between captain and crew. The following is not polite and can therefore not be recommended: "Get the f…king jib sheet in, God damn it! The sail has a pot belly. One would think that you yourself had modelled for it! Get it in! GET IT IN!!!!!"
A better approach would be: "Darling! May I suggest that you pull on that rope that you are cradling in your sweet little hand?" In general, it can be recommended that one start every sentence with "Darling" when sailing with one's wife. A final example of polite speech: "Darling! As you can see, water is pouring over the leeward side. Would you be so good as to uncleat the sheet?"
This article appeared in our local club newsletter and in the Danish W-Nyt, and it has dramatically changed the tone in Danish Wayfarers sailed by couples.
Politeness speech text
Al's Worlds Week Diary
photos on shore - 1
photos on shore - 2
photos on water - 1
photos on water - 2
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