Wednesday, December 27, 2006


EVK4 - here is a copy of my reply to your recent comment made nearly seven months after my May 2006 post “Consider the BN
The explanation for why you removed the link to Zephyr from your EVK4 blog is disappointing - all the more so because I consider us "colleagues" (in a manner of speaking), given our choice of subject matter and the consistency of our postings over the past two years.

As well, I think it demonstrates more than a little sanctimony on your part to censure me for one lone post amongst nearly two years of writing.

The term "BN" - in my mind - is fair game for discussion as a part of the broader sailing lexicon. And isn't discussion a central point of all of this? If you have something to say, then say it, EVK4. Give vent to your self-righteousness in the aptly named "Leave Your Comment" tool ;-)
I agree that the term can be construed as offensive...but that doesn't make it less real. Is your point that we are we to shut out all things that offend us?

It's your blogroll and your choice...but know that the link to the EVK4 Blog on Zephyr stays in place. Dark will be the day that I excise you because I disagree with something you say, or find your topic matter offensive. I’ll let you know my thoughts face-to-face – like I’m doing now – as I strive to take a direct and open approach...and hopefully resist the urge to be condemning, censorious and retaliatory.


EVK4 said...

Wow, an open call to debate the term BN. I find it offensive and I didn't want to link to your blog because of it. I respect your writing but just didn't like the callousness of how you used the term.

The word nigger doesn't exist in a vacuum. You can't have it be acceptable in this context and not in others. If the sailing world feels it is such a useful description of the job of maintaining boats then the whole term "boat nigger" should be used not BN.

There are many more appropriate titles for that job, boat manager for one. That at least has a funny abbreviation.

Call me sanctimonious if you want, I just don't like the term and can't think of any justification for using it.

As I said, I respect your writing and have never for one moment considered you racist for using the term. I just don't like it being thrown around so casually.

Tillerman said...

I don't know whether to feel sad that two of my favorite blogging friends have had a disagreement, excited at the prospect of a major punch-up that will drive the traffic to your sites throught the roof, or disappointed that you are both such polite, mature people that you seem to have found a way to respectfully disagree and avoid that punch-up.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Thanks Tillerman...I think it's fine to respectfully disagree and would much rather EVK4 had have done that back in May that than to quietly remove my link as a way of being, what, punitive? For what? Being "callous?" To whom?

EVK4 - no offense but your reasoning seems screwy to me. The post in question (Consider the BN) wasn't even remotely close to being a Kramer-type rant nor was it an all out defense of the term "BN." It was a reaction to a reader comment that referenced the term “BN” in the context of a post about Captain Ron (of all things) and mostly a celebration of the folks who do the dirty work in yachting and charter sailing who, whether you like it or not, are often collectively referred to as "boat niggers."

Did you not like me recognizing that this term is used?
Did you not like that I didn't condemn the term?
Did you not like me admitting to have been a "BN?"

Or are you just one of those thought police guys who equate admonishment with power?

In May of 2006 I posted 31 times. I covered - among other things - Long Island Sound summer anchorages, a correction Tillerman made to a post abut Moitessier, Dee Caffari's triumph, the new Zephyr template, the lost crewman off Abn Amro during the Volvo, the passing of poet laureate Stanley Kunitz, MapMuse technology, the opening of the National Sailing Hall of Fame in Annapolis and the SAIL magazine article on blogging. A number of times, though not in May 2006, I’ve covered the topic of black people and their relationship to sailing. You can start here if you’re curious… (

In the context of this, don’t you think that removing my link is a knee jerk (over) reaction to what otherwise could have been a very interesting conversation about the origin and use of the term "boat nigger" in the sailing world?

In the blogging medium - such as it is - links are you well know. This isn't an open call to debate "BN" though I'd be glad to discuss it anytime...but rather a civil and necessary reaction to your approach which reveals, quite starkly, the corrosive influence of sanctimony on some of the very elements that make blogging powerful – namely the ability of ordinary people dedicated to a particular topic (sailing) to connect other like-minded ordinary people around issues and content of interest (the term “BN”) so that they can, as a community, discuss them, debate them and hopefully, learn from one another.

EVK4 said...

thought police guys? I removed a link since I didn't feel like reading your blog any more. Nohing more nothing less.

I keep my political and social beliefs separate from my blog and I intended to keep them separate from your blog until you asked me the question directly.

And what I find offensive is the use of the term at all. That it's widely used has no pertinence on the matter.

I have absolutely no hope of convincing anyone that it is an inappropriate term, I've seen that path gone down a million times on the internet. I could have tilted at the windmill or stopped reading your blog. I am not under any illusion that removing a link is punishment...I just stopped reading your blog.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Don't know how to figure someone who tells me he "respects my writing" not once but twice and then a few hours later rants about how he "stopped reading" my blog... "nothing more and nothing less."

Must have struck a nerve...

Why don't we agree that you'll stick to the wind conditions in the Bay area and the general state of your docklines in the marina and I'll tilt the windmills for us.


EVK4 said...

Geez, you asked me why I removed your link and I answered. Please do continue the important work of Blogging while I write about my sailing.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Think we've covered off on this one, chief. Thanks for reading and commenting! Happy New Year...

Pat said...

It never occurred to me (believe it or not, but my wife can attest to how clueless I can be), that many years ago when I first heard a term for messing around fixing boats, it was "niggle" as in "boat niggling". Upon reflection, it seems that niggle was presumably a more polite form derived from the (now infamous) BN. Probably all that stuff was a novelty to me because of the unusual ethnic composition of my childhood home.