Jackie Parry – author

“This is a man’s world, but….


… it would be nothing, nothing, without a woman or a girl…”

Thank you James Brown – you hit the nail on the head in more ways than one.


As a woman sailor, maritime teacher and commercial boat skipper, I’ve come up against plenty of prejudice. I fought the testosterone-fuelled nautical world and won.

You don’t have to go to the extremes I have. But I can help you take your first steps into solving the mysteries of the maritime world. If this thought scares you silly, don’t worry, I WAS TERRIFIED!???????????????????????

First Four Lessons
When we purchased Mariah, I didn’t know the front-end of a boat from the back-end. But Mariah felt ‘right’ to me. Lesson number one, trust your instincts.

The ropes and winches were a complete mystery, the boat’s behaviour an enigma. Lesson number two: don’t try to learn how to sail from a book. Step on a boat, any boat, as much as possible, be instinctive, it’ll make more sense than text (that part can come later).

Taking the helm was enough to turn me into a gibbering wreck. Lesson number three: Women are often better at the helm. During my experience of practical teaching, women listened to my instructions, many men had been ‘taught’ via mates and erm, supposedly knew it all already.* (Women are often exemplary at navigation too!)

Practical exercises on police boats, while training others

Practical exercises on police boats, while training others

I felt alone, lost and way out of my depth. Lesson number four: SO DOES EVERYONE WHEN THEY START. Persevere, chat to other women. FB groups such as Women Who Sail and Women Who Sail Australia are amazingly supportive, with zero judgement and zero tolerance for those who do judge! There are women here at every level. (If you join quickly, there’s a chance to win lots of goodies, WWS are celebrating reaching 5,000 members!)

In summary
• You can become a sailor!
• Persevere.
• Remember it takes time (but not as long as you think).
• It’s a brave move to step away from ‘normal life’.
• Ensure/remind/beg your spouse to be patient with you – I’ve seen so many men yell at their partner and then wonder why they are left alone on the boat!
• You are both working towards the same goal – when something goes wrong, you or your partner are not sabotaging it! Work together.
• Don’t panic – deal with the situation first, then panic if you must!
• Shouting and anger can be born from fear. Talk about it, work it out.
• Be buddies on the boat – that’s important, really important.

I used everything I'd learned on Mariah and studying, while skippering ships in PNG

I used everything I’d learned on Mariah and studying, while skippering ships in PNG

The outcome
Okay, sailing and cruising is not for everyone but if it is for you, you will find:

  • A life you’ve always dreamed of
  • Freedom beyond your wildest dreams
  • Kindred spirits
  • Help in the most unexpected places
  • Resourceful skills you never knew you had
  • How to live on next to nothing
  • An enormous back yard, aka ‘the world!’
  • You’ll release it’s a waste of time and energy to ‘sweat the small stuff’
  • … you will always wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!

Do you agree? Ladies, what have you found once you stepped into the cruising life?

Gentlemen – if you’ve read this far without flicking off an angry email to me… well done and thank you! If you want to go sailing with your partner… buy her this – it’ll help – honest!

for FB for marketing 5 star sticker

*Noel adds that it isn’t always a male/female distinction of who listens and who doesn’t. It was, for him, the person with the most experience that didn’t usually listen or wasn’t very good at taking advice/tuition. Maybe the women I taught had less experience, but this is what I encountered. (And, yes, Noel does receive special dispensation to read this!)


Author: jackieandnoel

Author and Traveller

9 thoughts on ““This is a man’s world, but….

  1. Great encouragement and advice, Jackie!

    Also want to toss in the thought that not all women are the ones being persuaded to go sailing/cruising! While most sailors are super friendly, etc. it really does bug me when I run across people who just assume that I’m only there (or any woman is only there) because her husband persuaded her to be! It’s a lack of recognition of the fact that I am (or other women are) realizing dreams that we’ve had since childhood, and the sense of accomplishment that gives us. So my bit of advice is, when you meet people in an anchorage to wait and hear their story before jumping to the conclusion that Girl is valiantly supporting Boy’s dream 🙂 (That’s not to discount the bravery of those who do fit that narrative, just to point out that it’s not the only one! E.g. We met the skipper and cook on a luxury chart yacht where she was the captain/engineer and he the cook!)

    Hope the renovation’s going well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are so right – Ellen! I am one of those you fulfilled my own dreams – they were dreams of freedom and I just didn’t know what form they would take. Thanks so much for pointing that out – you have inspired another blog to address this! I will be quoting you if that’s okay! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wonderful! Definitely feel free to quote me 🙂 It’s something I’ve come up against many times, though fortunately I’ve also encountered the opposite—always a great, happy feeling!
        Best, Ellen

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When you’re both heading out on a boat and he’s being more of a jerk than usual, it’s likely it’s because he’s afraid too. He may not even realize it.
    Men and women can respond to fear in different ways, and this was a great source of conflict for us in the early days of our sailing. My wife would often mistake urgency in my voice for anger or frustration with her. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by. Agreed! Fear is such a complex emotion too. We need to know why we react how we do to deal with it. And you are right, we can all respond to fear in different ways – good communication is the key and understanding your own and your partners reactions. 🙂


  3. Great post! I remember when I first bought wildwood about 12 years ago. I was mid 20’s and doing a Coastal Skipper course. I was the only woman. All the men were the salty old seadog types. I clip clopped in wearing my high heels and sat right at the front. No one took me seriously either until I got 98% in the first exam. It was only then they actually realized I was for real!!

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s