01 February 2012

Our Cruisers Dictionary Top Ten

We all know that boaters try to differentiate themselves from ordinary landlubber's by using another, more sophisticated language. Why do we say starboard if we mean right or why is the front of a boat called bow? Anyhow, that's how it is and we are used to it. Being underway we got even confronted with quite a new set of words and their meaning, normally not found in any boating dictionary. Here is our top ten of them:

1 Admiral
If you are the captain aboard a boat you are actually very close to god. You rule, no objections, no discussions. Great thing. But as usual, there is a seat even closer to real power: And that's like in real life the Admiral. He (or better she) may not interfere with daily boating decisions, but she may give advice or sees the bigger picture better than you could ever do. This shows in particular with given advice directly related to important issues as comfort, the color of the bed linen or the recommended shaving intervals for the male crew. So, in theory the captain could even overrule the Admiral as he is in charge of the boat. But the consequences of doing so could be very harsh, mostly later on. Amazingly 95% of the sailors we know have the Admiral on board, all others are sailing solo...

2 Anchor Insomnia
Imagine, you're at anchor, 20 knots or more of wind speed and some boats are really close. The chain is rattling in competition with he whining of your rig and you swing all over the place. How could you sleep?? Your anchor may slip and you crash into another boat or worse, onto a nearby reef. Or if your anchor holds, another boat may moving towards you they accidentally move. So you stay up to check the anchor (anyway there is nothing to see as it is pitch dark) or you watch with glazing eyes the radar or the GPS just to get proof you're not moving. To keep the boat safe you stay up the whole night, usually sipping some rum or equivalent to calm your nerves. Around five o' clock in the morning you're either sure that the boat will not slip, or you're so drunk that you don't care anymore. So that's when you go to bed, late enough to ensure the Admiral is aware about your high sense of duty.

3 Boaters Midnight
Boaters get up with the sun as the Daily Weather report is at 0630h and the Cruisers Net is at 0800h as well on the radio. So days are really long..
After the sun goes down you may be "invited" to a Cocktail Party (see below) or you stay on the boat, mostly without TV and just randomly with Internet. Reading is nice, but after all that sun and no real couch potato possibility you break down around 22:00h. Most of us are ending up to  go to bed at a time we would never do in real life.

4 Cocktail Party
Held either on the beach or on a fellow cruiser's boat. Normally announced over the radio or by people coming by dinghy and inviting the whole anchorage in person. But don't get this wrong: You're invited to join, it does not mean you're invited as in real life! Bring your own stuff (usually plenty of drinks and some snacks). The only thing you share are the snacks.

5 Checking the Anchor
Blame it on the beer, but I was not suspicions at one of this boat parties even when the fifth guy in twenty minutes went up towards the bow to "check the anchor", I mean we are cruisers so safety first right? The next party was on the beach, and when this guy told me he had to check the anchor I was getting a bit nervous. Is he going back to the boat, is this such a bad anchorage at all? I started to understand what means "checking the anchor" when the guy whent behind the bushes just to be back a few minutes later.....

6 DPO = Damn Previous Owner
An acronym used for all the bad things happening to your boat. Very convenient: Whatever happens, something breaks or a fellow boater questions a particular setup: Blame it to the DPO! You will never loose your face as it's obvious that you did the best you could but the DPO gave you a difficult heritage with this boat.

7 Mail Boat Day
Islands get supplies by a mail boat which usually comes once a week. Even if nobody expects mail it's a very important day. That's when the local store has fresh fruits and vegetables. Or even better, he might even have anything else you may need. Don't miss it, the day after all the nice stuff is gone...

8 Liveabord
It's not a cruiser. Its a person who lives abord a boat in some harbor and has a normal work or is retired - he just exchanged the apartment with a boat. Most of them actually planned to go cruising but got stuck in normal life. You find liveaboards in all different places - the main thing in common is that they hardly ever move the boat. Dare you ever ask a cruiser who moves from one location to another if he is a livaboard. It's an insult....

9 Gin Tanker
Normally only seen in the Bahamas area, no more than a few hundred miles away from Miami. The term is naming big motorboats with even bigger engines, mostly sport fishing vessels. The crew has no sense for noise, wake or boating etiquette in general. Everybody assumes they start drinking gin tonics early in the morning and are just capable of doing this because they are gin addicted drunk morons...but maybe it's just jealousy as well, I mean how can you afford so much gin if your boat is using gas for 1000 US an hour??

10 Tourist Boat
Acronym for Charter boats with mostly inexperienced crew. They tend to drop the absolute undersized tiny anchor (I use the same size in my Dinghy and not at a 40 foot boat!) very close to your boat so they may slip at night; The result is obvious-> see Anchor Insomnia. Another problem is the loud music. I mean they have real holiday, they still can party after 22:00h when most of the cruisers in the anchorage are already hitting the cushions. The best would be for the sake of all of us if they would invite us! We could check how their anchor holds (for real!), enjoy the music and the best - get some booze for free (they do not know about cruisers style of cocktail partys...) So if you ever charter: Invite a cruiser - nobody is more gracefully!


  1. We enjoy your writing. Great post and so true!

  2. I should actually work, but I am having so much fun reading your blog.