Why cruis­ers should just be nice

Yachting Monthly - - COLUMN - LIBBY PURVES

We live in a nice vil­lage by a fine (if peb­bly) seashore. Just over half the houses are full-time res­i­dents like us. Many are muchloved hol­i­day or week­end homes ei­ther passed down through gen­er­a­tions or ‘dis­cov­ered’ by rap­tur­ous and af­flu­ent Lon­don­ers. When the warm weather comes – bank hol­i­days, half terms, high sum­mer – ob­vi­ously the vil­lage fills up far be­yond its hous­ing: day trips, tourists, a few cam­pers and mo­bile homes.

It was ever thus, a re­sort since be­fore the First World War. And that’s fine – keeps the pubs flour­ish­ing and the shop open. When I was a child at the vil­lage school, we used to look en­vi­ously and ad­mir­ingly at the hol­i­day­mak­ers who had rather bet­ter cars than our boxy old Ford, smarter shorts by far, and beach equip­ment like wind­breaks and re­frig­er­ated ham­pers. That felt glam­orous, though ac­tu­ally we were used to the bit­ter east wind and could take a pic­nic down the lane any­time in a car­rier bag with­out the ginger beer los­ing its chill.

But some­times, nip­ping to and fro in or­di­nary work­ing or house­hold lives, we do jib a bit at the care­free sense of en­ti­tle­ment. Huge four-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles parked across half the street or on cor­ners with tight lanes be­cause they’re too mean or lazy to go to the car park whose tak­ings sup­port our com­mon­lands char­ity. Moan­ing in the shop be­cause there’s no Parme­san. Late-night yelling, some­times crim­i­nally stupid bar­be­cues on tin­der-dry grass­land. And the lit­ter! Wrap­pings and left­overs dumped on the shore, bro­ken plas­tic beach toys, fag ends an­kle deep out­side the pub. Then there’s the dog mess. Out of sea­son, you hardly ever see it on the paths or beach. There are plenty of ded­i­cated bins and we all know one an­other’s dogs and tend to have – um – a proper sense of shame. But one sunny bank hol­i­day (we had two in May, scorchers) and hey presto! You’d have thought piles of turd had been breed­ing of their own ac­cord.

Why say this in YM? Ah, be­cause for all our sense of se­aborne heroic free­dom, we cruis­ing peo­ple are just hol­i­day­mak­ers, tourists, day trip­pers into the myr­iad glo­ri­ous coastal towns and vil­lages round our coast (and France’s, and Spain’s, Por­tu­gal’s and Ireland’s). We leave our marks, for good and bad. We help keep the wa­ter­front bars and cafés and restau­rants open – es­pe­cially those who do break­fasts af­ter a long wet beat overnight. We give the chan­d­leries good cus­tom, hav­ing bro­ken as­sorted bits of kit and lost deck shoes over the side. So far so good.

But it be­fits us to leave only a del­i­cate, care­ful boot­print. Peo­ple ac­tu­ally live in these gor­geous places, and not all of them work in the tourist trade or want to. Some re­sent the ma­rina very much, if it hasn’t been tact­fully placed. They all need use­ful shops – food, iron­mon­gery, down-to-earth su­per­mar­kets – not just delis and branches of swanky clothes shops. It be­fits vis­it­ing yachts­men to remember that, and en­thu­si­as­ti­cally use the lo­cal small shops (with­out moan­ing about the prices, or hav­ing crammed the boat with a month’s worth of bis­cuits and tins from the Lidl on the trad­ing es­tate back home).

It be­fits us to be po­lite to the lo­cals, queue civilly in the pub, never complain aloud and pick up af­ter the ship’s dog. And in­deed chil­dren. If there is no ma­rina or port skip, it is not good man­ners to stuff three days’ worth of four peo­ple’s rub­bish into a se­ries of tiny high street bins. Seal it up for God’s sake, lash it down on the stern­deck, keep it for a har­bour with fa­cil­i­ties. Remember that trawler­men are work­ing, not play­ing. An­swer lo­cal chil­dren’s ques­tions. Put money in the lifeboat box. Moor where the har­bour­mas­ter tells you to. Just be nice: be wel­come.

We cruis­ing peo­ple leave our marks, for good and bad

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