Every cruiser is different, but over the years certain archetypes have emerged in my mind:
The Crusty Cruiser (or Grotty Yachtie): Seafaring life a thin disguise for alcoholism. Doesn’t really ever sail anywhere, but settles into haunts like Marina La Paz, Phuket, or certain Caribbean islands where rum is cheap. Boats are likely to have cockroaches and lots of dog hair. If male, Moses beard. If female, hairy legs and arm pits. Personal hygiene neglected due to water shortage aboard. Favorite part of cruising: cocktail hour.
The Yacht Club Officer on Tour: Yacht Club Burgee flown at all times and boat usually looks ready for Opening Day. Usually wears polo shirt embroidered with yacht club logo or yacht’s name. Weakness: Can’t maintain brightwork to normal standards in the tropics. Favorite part of cruising: flag etiquette.
The Retired Drug Smuggler: Made it big in the seventies by making runs in the Caribbean, back when it was a “gentlemen’s game.” Retired rich before getting busted, but lifelong social group limited to other retired drug smugglers with large yachts and Cayman Island bank accounts. Weakness: New tax and investment transparency laws after 9/11.
The Land Adventurer Turned Sailor: The boat is a means to an end. Financial and circumstantial factors necessitated the cruising life, rather than a love of the sea. Boats usually have strange but functional improvisations. Much mountaineering gear substituted for sailing gear. Definitely no refrigeration. Weakness: Use of arcane sailing jargon by other sailors.
The Frustrated Engineer: Always fixing things for self and others. Has vice and makeshift drill press aboard. Once rebuilt a Perkins 108 in Chagos using only items found washed up on the beach. Weakness: Doesn’t like the water. Favorite part of cruising: Things always keep breaking
Barbie and Ken: Conceal a Wondergym or Abdominizer somewhere on their boat. Often seen swimming the butterfly through the anchorage before other cruisers have awakened from drunken benders. Favorite part of cruising: Beach Volleyball. Weakness: Fatty, non-vegan food at cruiser potlucks.
The Ham Radio Nerd: Cruising is a platform for worldwide radio communications. Can’t introduce self or boat without adding call sign and “maritime mobile” afterward. The hull is nothing more than ground plane and the rig is there to hold up an array of antennas. Still knows and practices Morse Code. Weakness: Has to miss social events because they conflict with “the net.” Favorite part of cruising: Monitoring sunspot cycles.
The Misfit: Couldn’t possibly fit anywhere else in society. Boat is the last stop in life save jail, a mental institution, or some kind of wilderness compound. Personal hygiene either sadly lacking or Howard Hughes-esque. Wears items of clothing that wouldn’t qualify as such to others. Weakness: Cruiser potlucks and other social gatherings where social interaction is forced upon them.