What the hell is good seamanship? Or, alternatively, what makes a good seaman? Or a poor one? Sometimes I work with our experienced ABs and find them coiling a line counterclockwise ! Urghh!@#%!!! I bring it up to our captains. Some shrug and say “All the lines we have aboard are some flavor of multi-stand braided rope. The direction of coiling really doesn’t matter anymore…” What can I say to that? I watch the deckhands make-fast mooring lines to the bitts. Some do it one way. Some another. Seems to be a matter of free-association and personal expression nowadays. I show them two round turns and three figure eights, for making a line fast to a bitt. Explain the reasoning behind it. They shrug and say “I never had the line come loose yet…”
All my life I’ve heard statements like “The next sailor I ship out with will be the first one”, or “They’ve got a poor standard of seamanship at that company/boat/trade…” Or just “Why the hell do you do that?!?! No sailor in his right mind would do that!”
The question is, what constitutes a good sailor? What is the standard of seamanship? Whatever it is, is it the same as it was in 1916, or 1816, or 1716? Or has it changed? And if it has changed, it probably keeps changing. So how can you judge someone if the standard is always changing? Or is it the case that “The Standard” is whatever skills are most important in the particular seagoing trade you happen to work at? Is it the case that, on a container ship, a good sailor might know how to steer and be a lookout and splice lines, and knows his/her part in lowering lifeboats and swinging out the gangway, but on tugs a good sailor knows how to [ rshrew, please fill in the blank].
Are statements like “I’ve steamed on more ships than you’ve seen telephone poles, son, and behind every one of those telephone poles is a little $hit like you who thinks he’s a sailor!”just the age-old way Old Salts keep greenhorns in their place? (The previous statement was my greeting from the chief mate on one of the first ships I worked on. I’ve always admired it…)
Is there any laundry list of things that go into making a good sailor? Is there any common standard of good seamanship?