Sunday 4 January 2015


I've often wondered whether extraverts and introverts are equally at home boating. We both relax in the relative isolation of cruising on Erin Mae. My best beloved, somewhat less introverted than I, loves chatting with others locking up or down. So do I as occasion arises – being an introvert doesn't necessarily mean you're shy or unfriendly or don't like human contact, and I really enjoy reaching out to people. But I don't have a nagging feeling that something is wrong if I've been on my own all day. The steerer's position is a great vantage point from which to survey your inner landscape. Erin Mae has a cruiser stern, of course, which means we can do it together, with occasional interruptions for conversation or coffee.

For Christmas, youngest son gave me a copy of Quiet, by Susan Cain. Its subtitle is "The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking". The first couple of chapters suggest it's very far from being a psychometric manual. It's written in a fluent, story-rich style, full of personal experiences and anecdotes. I imagine that many introverts without the opportunities I've had for personal psychometry might read it thinking (not out loud, of course) "Ah, so someone else has experienced that too!" In it I came across the Finnish joke (the one the Finns, apparently one of the most typically introverted nations on earth, tell about themselves). Question: How can you tell a Finn likes you? Answer:  He's looking at your shoes instead of his own! I thought that was really funny and started telling it to a good friend yesterday morning, only to find he'd heard it already. Doh!

Where does the boaty extravert fit in? I suppose this might be one explanation for the apparently strong connection between the appreciation of boats and the appreciation of real ale. At the end of a day's cruising, the extravert steerer is just bursting to get down the pub and share a jar with a group of similarly deprived chatterers. Boat festivals perhaps benefit from the same dynamic – they're about rather more than the shared awestruck contemplation of the shiny parts of a Bolinder.

Maybe the introvert / extravert ratio is no different in the boating community from the population as a whole. After all, I can tie up in the middle of nowhere, while you can share rings on the 24-hour mooring. And if I find myself sharing rings anyway, I'm very happy to get out the guitar and the accordion and the penny whistle, and enjoy an impromptu session with whoever else happens to be next door.

Hm – I'm starting to get in the mood, and it's still only 4th January with several months to go before we're out on the cut again.


Post a Comment