Jackie Parry – author


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“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.

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.

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!

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*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!)

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Nothing is Impossible!

“Nothing is impossible – the world itself says, ‘I’m possible!'”

Inspiration: The quote above is by the beautiful Audrey Hepburn, and the beauty in life was part of the inspiration for my story: Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman.

Living on a ten metre boat, for nine years, I saw the world and changed from a scared, brokenhearted girl, into a sea-gypsy woman – I figured out who I am. Here’s a brief glimpse into my life…

down wind

Sailing: Traversing oceans is not like a plane or car ride. Nothing is certain except a vast puddle of water and a great stretch of sky. The days pass, measured not in hours but in distance. It’s dynamic, fantastic and petrifying all at the same time. There is rarely pattern or logic; you deal with what’s received, as it arrives . . . moment by moment.

Paradoxical beauty: Pounding waves, great geysers of water, white bubbles chuckling softly amid giant swells. Plunging into the void, pushing away thoughts of what lurks below. The wind from hell. Disgruntled clouds carrying punches.???????????????????????

Reality: Hopping in a warm bunk, trusting my partner with my life enables me to sleep. Malcontent wind and waves provide rude awakenings. The dawn paints the horizon in breathtaking crimson or sadistic black. The crucial burden of stores, lifted with the seas.???????????????????????

A Lesson in Humility: Vivid green phosphorescence streaks behind magnificent dolphins and rainbow reflections of oil. The paradoxical beauty of the ocean.

The result:
“Your book helped me through a recent bereavement.”
“It made me cry, laugh and quake with fear in equal measure.”
“Your insight-fullness and sense of adventure captured me.”
“Beautifully written with honesty, humour and love for all living creatures on this planet.”
“It’s a long while since I’ve so engaged with a book.”
“Once you start this book, you’ll not want to put it down.”
“Moving, rousing, uplifting, stimulating.”
“I loved “Of Foreign Build.” The book is listed as a memoir, a misnomer I believe, as I found it to be much more. It’s really a love story, an adventure story, and a story of personal growth and determination all rolled into a nine year odyssey.”

What inspires you?

Of Foreign Build – From Corporate Girl to Sea-Gypsy Woman

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