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8 May 2014. Gender Guff.

Far too often I read statements by women boaters such as this one seen recently: "I'm a woman. Captain. Equal participant. Women, if you're not, you're missing out. Men, if you're not encouraging her, you're one day dooming your continued boating." Well, there's another way, and I'm here to tell you that there is no One-Size-Fits-All for boaters.


Ali and Chuck of S/V Kairos being greeted by ambassador Bear of Edge, Bud and Tessie's Atlantic44.

Some prefer the social aspects such the Saturday pot-luck dinners on the beach or cocktails on the aft deck. Others want to race around the buoys and it's all out speed. Many love the sense of accomplishment when arriving at a new port.  And there are fishermen who revel in landing the Big One.

Sometimes it's simply sitting around shooting the breeze in the cockpit of a boat tied to a dock. None of those options are gender specific and all can be accomplished by any who wish to spend the time and effort to learn the ropes.


Ken on Sparrow, holding Skipper one cold winter afternoon.

If you read the boat building forums you'll be told that unless you know each of your boat's systems inside and out (preferably by installing same yourself) then you're destined to fail.  That's not true either.  Sure a level of knowledge is helpful however I contend that the ability to learn is far more critical to success.

And where knowledge is lacking, money can help. You would think nothing of paying for expertise when your washing machine dies. Therefore don't give too much credence to the doom and gloom folks who suggest that an intimate knowledge of all things boat is required prior to wearing deck shoes.

For me, I'm interested in a variety of things. I am not interested in my engine -- but financially I cannot afford to hire help regularly so I learn.  It's not my favorite, but then again, it's not that hard either.  And if I had a bundle of testosterone available you can bet I'd not be more than marginally interested in things motor. 

Think: "Make it go honey, and I'd like to visit XYZ next please."

Each couple finds the balance that works for them. On some boats the wife prefers to be the passenger. Running a boat and navigating crowded waterways is not a stress-free endeavor. And I'm not even talking about docking which no one will say is a strength of mine. That's something to practice now that the new engine is in. Soon!

If she (or he, as the case might be) elects to be the First Mate, I see no reason to rock the boat.

I like best how Kevin on M/V Lisas Way [http://mvlisasway.com] described it: "I will say that my wife is starting to see extended cruising in her future. She mentioned this last week how we need to take the boat south either this fall or next fall and use it as a base to play in warmer latitudes. She has finally figured out that we have a second home that we can position anywhere we want to along a coast, and move it at will. She isn't ready to lock up the house an for the winter yet but she is wanting to try a month or so onboard and see how it works out."

What works well in one boat might not be so on another.

Mother never was good at running the boat. She didn't have the feel for it so she didn't. On the other hand, she could feed us well, was willing to paint, wouldn't sand, didn't fiberglass, couldn't plot a course, could spot the marker, baked bread like you wouldn't believe, made conch fritters to die for, could cook any fish cleaned for her, etc. And that was after nearly 50 years of living aboard...


Our boat circa 2000 or thereabouts heading out Sister's Creek in Marathon.

Cookie cutters are not for boaters. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. If the wife WANTS to do anything, that should be the guide. Ditto husband. My neighbor when I was on dirt cooked. He found he enjoyed it, so after retirement took over the kitchen.

A lot of the gender "issues" are generated by expectations. When I was shopping for Seaweed all too often emails sent to some brokers were ignored or answered in one sentence. As soon as I started signing the letters from "Janice (and Frank)" I got answers.

Meet Frank:

Yes, Frank is a resin pelican. My duo gave him to me decades ago and he's now a memory of Son.
Frank gets to cruise whereas my boy had a heart attack all too soon and didn't get to live his dreams.

Remember to live your dreams now because no one is guaranteed tomorrow.

It is what it is. Let a man walk into a fabric store and he'll think he's invisible. And when a woman walks into a marine hardware store often she will often find the same experience. As for me, I'm too old to worry about it.

Besides, I'm having too much fun afloat.

Does your partner like participating in all aspects of your boat life?
In your off-the-boat life, do you find gender expectations irritating or amusing?

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