A $10 sailing outfit might be the key

Published on January 22nd, 2020

by Chris Caswell, Sailing Magazine
I admit it: I belong to way too many yacht clubs. I realize this, but it seems to be a chronic issue, like keeping every copy of the New York Times for 30 years or creating huge balls of string. It is an obsessive compulsive disorder that shrinks would say is based on an anxiety complex.

I would guess that my anxiety is based on a fear that She Who Must Be Obeyed (SWMBO) and I will find ourselves somewhere (Pt. Barrow? Lapland? Estonia?) where I can’t drop into a local yacht club for a gin and tonic.

But that’s not what this column is about. That’s just an admission of a retentive disorder, and an explanation of why I receive so many yacht club newsletters.

I was leafing through this stack of yacht club newsletters that I feel compelled to skim (see a pattern here?) every month. And I came across a photo that stopped me in my perusal.

It was a crisp and bright shot of a 7-year-old girl as she came out of a tack in her Optimist, frozen in that moment of switching hands between sheet and tiller extension, with the faintest frown of concentration on her forehead.

What intrigued me, however, was her attire. The photo looked like a shot from the pages of “Vogue” or “Harper’s Bazaar” or whatever the current fashionista magazine is these days.

But I was taken by the sailing attire she was wearing. Now, let me not be the first to tell the world that Caswell is not the nattiest of dressers when it comes to sailing. Comfort, dryness, warmth (or coolth) seem to be key factors in my wardrobe.

SWMBO regularly goes through my closet (or what I like to think of as my closet) and removes the most disreputable of garments: the 20,000-mile topsiders with salt stains, a piece of duct tape to hold the heel together, and just a hint of Woolsey 4702 blue bottom paint from that boat I haven’t owned for, hmm, let’s see, 35 years.

Out goes the floppy sailing hat that has seen the tropic sun on the TransPac and rain on a “soft” day near Fastnet Rock off Ireland. She’s also been eyeing that somewhat ratty crew shirt from an America’s Cup campaign that no one, including me, remembers.

Back to the photo. This young sailor’s clothing reminded me how far astray the world has gone. In modern parlance, I think the cheese has slipped off the cracker completely. – Full report.

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