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
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!
(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
What works well in one boat might not be so on
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
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
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