… 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.
WARNING – THIS BLOG IS FOR WOMEN ONLY!
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.
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!)
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!)
• You can become a sailor!
• 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.
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!
*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!)