Sunday, 8 September 2013

THE EROSION OF SAILING ETIQUETTE IN THE AEGEAN.


Once upon a time, sailing in the aegean was a relaxing past  time that many enjoyed. It was a relatively under exposed vacation style that only those who knew how to sail could enjoy.

The development of the yacht flotilla quickly opened the coast lines of the aegean and especially the Ionian and Saronic Gulfs to groups  of yachts following a  mother yacht around, like so many ducks and her ducklings. The Flotillas in the early  years compromised of about 10 small  yachts,each with a nice family on board, all learning how to sail as they ventured from greek island port to the next.
During their week of sailing the lead yacht would endeavour to show people how  to  better handle there little boats, while also giving them tips on local customs and yachting etiquette.
These where gentler more civilized times , better known as, BC,,,BEFORE COMPUTERS.

In these times asking to raft on to a strangers yacht was normal, helping a damsel down the skinny  plank gangway was normal. It was a time when in the morning the skipper would raise with his cup of coffee  and sit in the cockpit and chat with his neighbour yacht about the coming days sail and offer advice or hints of places to visit that he had enjoyed....like wise in the evening strangers would enjoy a glass of wine while swapping sea stories or exchanges about the weather...

As the years came and went, flotillas became larger and more complex. The yachts became bigger, gone where the small Snapdragon 27 and the Mirage29, hello to the Bavara36, then
40 and recently seen in flotilla mode Hanse 54 and Sun Odyessy 54.... Gone where the highly personnel and professional companies like YCA and SYC. Now Sunsail and Moorings ran fleets, in fact it has become such a big business that currently in the Saronic gulf area there are no less than 10 companies running flotillas in some sort of disguise. You may say to  your self how do they do it and not trip over themselves, well they do and the result can be very ugly.

With so many groups jostling all for the same space in harbours, it has become an issue of first come first moors, otherwise the lonely flotilla leader has to do some very imaginative mooring arrangements. Which will inevitably end up with some sacrifice to the yachting etiquette gods.... Crossed Anchor Chains....extremely tight mooring side to side....ending up with a possible raft on to your yacht of 3 other yachts and a non stop traffic of people crossing your yacht though the cockpit, forward of the mast..all with their shoes on...never
mind there inability to walk softly....

Of all the flotillas that currently work the Saronic gulf, by far the worse are the 'Fun" flotillas or  'National groups". These are the new breed of mass group invasion we can look forward to.

They represent the AD generation, or AFTER DIGITIZATION. They are the new socially aware and digitally connected generation who work as little as possible, to PARTY TO THE
MAXIMUM. They are also the new 'NOUVEAU RICHE' that arrive from the old soviet block countries. Both these groups have shown a proponcity for over indulgence and extremely
loud music.

THE YACHT WEEK, a large group of yachts, sometimes as many as 20 can descend on an island such as POROS, and occupy,most of the available berths. If one does not exist then
they think nothing of rafting on to a private yacht and making their berth by adding another 2 for good measure.
....gone are the days of asking, and should some one ask and be given a resounding 'NO Thank YOU"..
it seems normal for the Yacht week captain to now enter into a
discussion of why no!!....

It's not unusual for  this group of young hooligans, to arrive with a yacht dedicated to playing loud music, tie it to the peir then proceeded to blast the entire village with modern bass
techno music so that their crews have music to dock there yachts by....the rest of the evening is given over to young adolescent getting drunk to various degrees before throwing up on the street, yacht, where ever.....

When THE YACHT WEEK comes to town, head out of town and take a local with you because he doesn't like it either. The young kids spend no money,so they do not help the economy, and leave behind them a wake of garbage and unpleasant smells.

The opening of the soviet block has given these people a chance to come to a country they have only read about in books. On a whole the citizens of these countries are responsible hard workers. However, it would seem that once on vacation they drop all pretense and go on vacation in just a hard way. In a group flotilla situation they go by the rule of safety in
numbers. Arriving in large numbers 12-15 yachts often later in the evening when most berths are now taken, expecting to be accommodated. In a small harbour on Kithonos  island I
witnessed, the group leaders of a flotilla that had arrived late to the village going yacht to yacht telling the captains of the moored yachts they had to leave, so that there flotilla could come in and dock.
When the docked skippers did not leave, the flotilla leaders started cutting dock lines .The situation eventually resolved it self after the port police arrived. The flotilla went elsewhere for the night.

So what has happened to old fashioned yacht etiquette.....mostly within the charter  world its not taught , most bareboat skippers here in the Aegean have some sort of qualification, but their depth of knowledge seldom extends to such quaint subjects as yachting etiquette. As they are not on the water long enough to understand the courtesies of the
sea, they  have no need for it,in northern europe they dock in marinas and away from private yachts.

However when you try and educate and widen there horizons about something as simple  as how to cross a yacht, one is often meet with indifference and a question of lack of respect
PLEASE CROSS THE YACHT BY WAKING FORWARD OF THE MAST......but across the cockpit is quicker
PLEASE DO NOT WEAR YOUR STREET SHOES ON MY DECK....... wearing my shoes means I do not have to put them on on the dock...besides what if I step In something ?
PLEASE WALK SOFTLY I'M ASLEEP BELOW DECKS.......Not my fault I have big feet !!


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