Home . Articles . Columns & Blogs . On the Wind . Boom Boom cards for sailing are just plain good manners

Boom Boom cards for sailing are just plain good manners

2010 July 1
As a journalist, my e-mail is always overflowing with news releases and announcements of new products, most of which are excruciatingly boring. Some company has changed the color on the handle of its paint brush. Riveting. Another company is now offering sailing gloves in mauve as well as puce. Riveting. Another manufacturer now accepts Paypal. Sigh.

Occasionally, however, something comes along that is so bizarre that even I, hardened journalist that I am, have to stop in my tracks. Right now, Boom Boom Cards have me frozen like a deer in headlights.

For ten bucks, you buy a set of 26 cards that promote, according to the press release, "an uprising of guerilla goodness." The size of playing cards, each one encourages participants to perform some altruistic good deed. As the release says, "Keep boredom at bay this summer by leaving a trail of good."

That's appealing, but wait until you hear what they consider to be "good" deeds. For example, Card 2 suggests: "For one day, hold the door for others every time you have the opportunity." It goes on to suggest that you "Revolutionize it!" by making it your "newest habit." Emily Post must be writhing in her grave.

What has happened to this world? In the rush to be all-about-me, has everyone lost their common decency? Were the people who created these cards raised by wolves? No, wait, wolves actually have manners and share their food. If I had ever blown through a door and not held it open for someone following, my mother would have skinned me.

How about Card 6: "For one day, say please and thank you in all interactions (even the smallest ones). Revolutionize it! Do it every day." Holy Crap! Do people really have to pay 10 bucks for a card to keep in their pocket to remind them to say please? Shame on their mothers!

If you liked those, you'll love Card 9: "For one day, whenever your cell phone rings or vibrates in the middle of a conversation, ignore it. Revolutionize it! Don't even check to see who it is." I'm sorry, I can't even think of a comment for that one.

But you've just got to love Card 24: "Apologize (you know to who). Revolutionize it! Really mean it." Oh, puh-leeze. Really mean it? No, wait, this is the perfect reminder card for those who can't remember to say thank you or have the common courtesy to hold a door. It would probably be a good idea if they held the card in their hand as they apologize, so they can remember to mean it.

I've been so horrified by this clear evidence of the total absence of manners in our society that I couldn't leave it alone, and then I had a thought. Maybe there's a place for Boom Boom cards, not to teach basic good manners, but in sailing. And so I've come up with my own set of Caswell's Boom Boom Cards For Sailing.

No. 1: If you see someone docking nearby, go over and help them with their lines. Revolutionize it! Help them leave the dock, too!

No. 2: Be a good neighbor by keeping the stereo down so others can enjoy peace and quiet. Revolutionize it! Use your generator sparingly too.

No. 3: Watch your wake, not just in harbors and anchorages, but when passing other boats on the water. Revolutionize it! Go slow all the time.

No. 4: Keep the area around your dock clean and tidy. Revolutionize it! Coil up your neighbor's hose when he leaves it a mess.

No. 5: Watch your language, especially in front of kids. Revolutionize it! Clean up your language in general.

No. 6: Always help other skippers when they are having a problem. Revolutionize it! Volunteer to teach at a local sailing program.

No. 7: Don't pump your head out in a marina or anchorage. Revolutionize it! Install a holding tank large enough for the weekend.

No. 8: If you see another skipper struggling to load boxes of provisions aboard, offer to give a hand. Revolutionize it! Return his dock cart to the storage area.

No. 9: If you see a skipper unsure about a good spot to anchor, share the benefit of your local knowledge. Revolutionize it! Jump in your dinghy and give him a hand.

No. 10: When you leave your boat, always tie the halyards so they don't machine-gun in a breeze. Revolutionize it! When your neighbor leaves his halyards banging, don't pull them to the top of the mast, just tie them off!

No. 11: Curb thy children if they want to run and shriek on the docks, because not everyone loves kids. Revolutionize it! Don't have kids.

No. 12: If you see a dock neighbor struggling with a project, offer to give him a hand. Revolutionize it! Take a beer along with you.

No. 13: Don't throw your trash overboard. Revolutionize it! If you see plastic or Styrofoam floating in the marina, put it in a trash can.

No. 14: Don't drop your anchor right next to another boat but, instead, give everyone some space. Revolutionize it! If an anchorage is crowded, find another.

Those are 14 of Caswell's Boom Boom Cards of Sailing, and I've saved one for the last. There's a lot of discussion right now about why sailing seems to be losing participants. That's surprising to me, because it's been such a major part of my life for decades and I couldn't possibly think about not sailing.

Besides, sailing is a wonderful activity, whether you want to do it alone or with your family. It's beautiful, it's healthy, and here's the zinger: it sells itself. So I offer you my last Boom Boom Card of Sailing:

No. 15: Take someone sailing that has never been sailing. Revolutionize it! Take someone you don't even know, but just met at a cocktail party or a barbecue.

I assume you can remember to say "thank you" and "please" by yourself.