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Old 02-14-2008, 06:37 PM   #1
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I have sailed halfway around the world and taken five years to do it. I hold a Yachtmaster offshore certification which I obtained before leaving on this voyage. Yes, I was the "captain" of my 44' yacht, but I would never dream of having a business card printed with "Captain" Joe Soap or even referring to myself as "Captain Joe Soap".

In our travels, we were given many cards by other cruisers printed as "Captain" Joe Soap. If it did not annoy me so much it would be laughable.

Besides "Joe Soap", who can really, officially assign himself as "Captain So-An-So"? Anyone who owns a floating tub that he is in charge of?

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Old 02-14-2008, 08:32 PM   #2
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To my mind you are only a Captain by title if you earned the rank in a formal organization, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, etc... otherwise captain is a billet not a title and should not be printed on business cards and such... Once I get my certs I will probably make business cards... it would say something to the affect. J. Jones, RYA Yachtmaster Ocean. Instructor Certified.... because at that time Yachtmaster Ocean will be the title/rank/degree/certification level that I will have... maybe I'm making too much out of this but I agree with you... Captain Joe Soap emplies not only that the guy owns his own dinghy but that he has commanded a ship and crew in a formal organization in which he was granted the authority by a third party.

This formal attachment to the title Captain is probably related to my military service... it's a prestigious title in my mind and not one that everyone deserves.
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Old 02-15-2008, 04:08 AM   #3
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To my mind you are only a Captain by title if you earned the rank in a formal organization, Navy, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines, etc...

This formal attachment to the title Captain is probably related to my military service... it's a prestigious title in my mind and not one that everyone deserves.
You are almost completely correct with you assessment except that in the Merchant Service the title is not captain but master. There is no such thing as a ship's captain. In the merchant service, as stated, the person in charge is the ship's master. In the military it is the commanding officer.

The rank of captain is, in the army, above lieutenant and below major and in the navy above commander and below commodore.

I obtained a ship master's foreign going certificate (in fact it is now called a Class 1 according to STCW) before joining the Coast Guard. I worked very hard to get it and am proud of it and never have called myself captain. If anything, I suffix the words "master mariner" to my name which to me says a lot more.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 02-15-2008, 11:41 AM   #4
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I was trying to explain to somebody that the information he had received and was repeating as gospel came from a relatively inexperienced cruiser who had yet to do a blue water passage, and had never left the US. I rather officiously stated "be careful that you don't mistake one year's experience repeated 12 times for 12 years' experience."

Another cruiser who tacked "captain" onto his name retaliated in a huff with the statement that he had gone "X" number of miles in a year, had done almost all of it by motoring up and down the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW), and he was "proud" of his accomplishments. There you go.

My other officious statement is "he doesn't know what he doesn't know." And with regard to most of the people who tack "captain" onto their names, think of it as just not knowing any better.

I will move to the other side of this discussion now. US Coast Guard personnel, when speaking over the VHF radio with a yacht, will often call the person they are speaking to "captain". Charter skippers will also ask to be called "captain X".

A few fellows flogging their cruising aids (cruising guides, gadgets and widgets, CDs, etc.) often tack "captain" to the front of their name. It tends to impress the least experienced of those who encounter them. I see this as just one more example of the modern tendency to trivialize others' accomplishments and exaggerate their own.

Back to my distasteful example of Paris Hilton as a role model.
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Old 02-15-2008, 01:37 PM   #5
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Do I get it right?

The master on merchant ships do hold this function because they have got the education to become a 'master' and therefor are entitled to command a ship. And they are the only once who can be the master on board, as long as they are able to concerning mentality and health. All others are officers of lower ranks, even though they might have gone through the same education and could be a master.

Our 'yacht masters' are certificates, you earn (in most countries) after attending courses and making examinas AND if you have had the command on a yacht for a certain amount of time or miles or on specified sea areas (coastal, offshore, ocean). On these trips the future yacht master can (has to be) the 'Skipper' - he has to be in the command of the yacht for a time to earn the experience the certificates ask for.

Therefor a skipper on a sailboat can change from trip to trip, even from day to day. But it has to be put down in the ships log in advance who is the skipper (and therefor is legally in charge) and everyone in the crew should know.

The title 'captain' is indeed a title merely used by non-sailors talking about sailing...

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Old 02-16-2008, 03:52 AM   #6
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I may be wrong (it has been known before), but my understanding is that the only time the term 'Captain' is universally recognised as being the person legitimately in charge of a craft, is when it is applied to the person in charge of a large commercial passenger aircraft. My understanding is that a 'captain's ticket' is a requirement for the position.

Then there is 'David's Law', which states:

'The perceptive size of the title one applies to one's own name, is in inverse proportion to the actual size of that person's reproductive appendage'.

I point out that I use no title....or if I am pressed, I use the wholly unpretentious 'Mr'.......

David.
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Old 02-16-2008, 07:15 AM   #7
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'The perceptive size of the title one applies to one's own name, is in inverse proportion to the actual size of that person's reproductive appendage'.
Now that is a humbling thought!
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Old 02-16-2008, 06:49 PM   #8
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I've always thought it a bit humourous when someone introduces themselves as "Capn' Such-n-Such." It's almost akin to a dirt dweller introducing themselves as "Lord Fockler - Duke of Higher up the Mountain than You". I always have a quiet chuckle as I remind myself to try not to prejudge the lad as a simple prat before I've ever even learned another thing about him. But I'm admittedly a weird one when it comes to anything seemingly pretentious. For one, I also refuse to call my boat a yacht as to me a yacht is one of those big vessels with a flybridge, ornate "Captains" state room, helipad, and nice bubbly jacuzzi aboard. I'm constantly being corrected on this matter by those insisting that mine is indeed a yacht. Hohum.

And Auzee - I believe in accordance with the Revised Uniform Maritime Code, it is more succintly stated that: The perceptive size of the title one applies to one's own name is in inverse proportion to the actual size of that person's reproductive appendage' at a ratio of minus one inch per title added. On that note I sign off...

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Old 02-16-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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I used to be a "real" (airline) captain, and I was always half-annoyed and half-amused by guys with 100 hours in a C-150 wearing ball caps with scrambled eggs on the brim. (Now that I am retired, I am just mildly amused.) This is probably how MDs feel when someone with a PhD in recreational management wants to be called "Doctor". I suppose that this practice theoretically cheapens real accomplishment, but you've got to figure that anyone whose opinion you value knows the difference.

The title of your post reminds me of one of my favorite copilots, who used to greet me with a cheery "Oh, captain, my captain" every time we flew together. I always wondered whether he knew the rest of the poem - especially the line that goes "For on the deck my captain lies, etc."

It was, after all, a seniority system.
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Old 02-16-2008, 07:17 PM   #10
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One more thing. The Coast Guard's custom of referring to people on small boats as "Captain" is crucial to the dramatic impact of that scene in "Captain Ron" where they want to talk to "The Captain". Calling for "the person or persons responsible for whatever is going on over there" just wouldn't have done it.

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Old 02-16-2008, 07:26 PM   #11
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I may be wrong (it has been known before), but my understanding is that the only time the term 'Captain' is universally recognised as being the person legitimately in charge of a craft, is when it is applied to the person in charge of a large commercial passenger aircraft.
I think, and I may be wrong too, that even there the correct term is aircraft commander.

With the exception of the military or naval rank the use of the term captain is nothing but pretentious bull but it will continue as long as there are people who are impressed by it, as long as Hollywood calls ship masters captain and as long as people do not know the correct term.

On the other hand, should the general public know the correct term? I have just thrown away a novel based upon the disastrous Franklin Expedition. The story was not good and I eventually gave up halfway through the book when the author called a sail a sheet, the ratlines footropes and claimed that the ropes he called ratlines were vertical ropes rigged from the cross trees by which sailors rapidly descended to the deck. If the author of such a book can make huge mistakes in nomenclature then can we ask more from the general public? We should however ask more of other cruisers.

Aye // Stephen
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Old 02-16-2008, 08:30 PM   #12
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I dislike pretension, too. I never refer to myself as "Captain" or "Master", except when clearing in through Customs & Immigration, and then only because the forms require it.

I have to admit, though, that I do like the moniker "Skipper", or even better, "Skip". As in when a crew member says, "Hey, Skip, should we bear off to miss that freighter that's heading for us?" "Skip" or "Skipper" says that you're the guy in charge of the boat, but you don't take yourself too seriously. That said, it's only for conversational usage, not to be used as an Official Title. You'd never say, "Hi, I'm Skipper Bob."
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Old 02-16-2008, 10:02 PM   #13
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Well said Hud. When someone else bestows a title, it denotes respect and says more about the recipient than the donor.......Having said that, I was once referred to, by temporary crew, as 'Admiral' (How totally respectfull !!!) on the very day I decided to put my vessel aground on a mudbank opposite the Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association's clubhouse. Before I turned the VHF radio off (to save power) I pointed out to those who could hear me, that I had deliberately placed the yacht on 'stinky Isle' purely for the purpose of careening the hull.....Fair dinkum!

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Old 02-16-2008, 10:44 PM   #14
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Admiral Auzzee,

I hope you got the swabs to paint the bottom whilst you were careened!
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