Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Letter To The Editor

August 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Dear Editor,

Are women just as good sailors as men? You betcha. The gals do everything the guys do: skipper everything from 10-foot dinghies to massive ocean-going yachts, race, particularly soloing around the world, delivery captains, navigators, even boat builders. In the 19th century more than one wife brought home a full-rigged ship when her captain/husband died at sea.

So, why is it that on any summer weekend so many boats leaving the marina feature the lads at the wheel? The same with photos in most boating magazines. You could say that’s the culture of the sport with its yo ho ho and a bottle of rum tradition. But did you ever stop to think where there is a drought of women sailors, it poses a real threat to the safety of craft and its crew?

A friend of mine was out for a weekend cruise with his wife and another couple. They munched on egg salad sandwiches for lunch and suddenly everyone became deathly ill, except the skipper’s wife who didn’t like egg salad. She didn’t like sailing either and only came aboard once a summer. But her husband had insisted she learn the rudiments of handling the boat, a 35-footer. Everyone else couldn’t even stand, so she took over and brought the boat safely home.

How about your wife or significant other? Can she bring home Sea Breeze if you conk out? Here’s a little quiz to find out. If you can’t answer yes to the following questions, you put your boat and crew in jeopardy.

  • Does your wife or significant other know how to turn the engine on and off?
  • Does she share equal cruising time at the helm?
  • Does she know how to navigate the boat into and out of a slip?
  • Can she set an anchor?
  • Can she read a paper or electronic chart?
  • Does she know the basics of GPS navigation?
  • Is she familiar with the rules of the road?
  • Does she know how to call for help in an emergency on the VHF radio?
  • Does she know what safety equipment is on the boat and where it is located, especially life jackets?

If your answers are peppered with no’s, it’s time for a little friendly on-the-job training. And it pays off far beyond the obvious safety issues. A happy captain/mate relationship in the confines of a tight space makes for enjoyable cruising. Boating is supposed to be fun, right? You’ll have more support from an engaged wife when you want to trade up to a bigger, fancier vessel. And you’ll find it easier to shed that Capt. Bligh image if you know your spouse is as nautically savvy as you are.

Lighten up skipper. Boating is a family affair, so give her boat time at the wheel and navigating. And if she screws up, as you once did as a novice, don’t yell at her. That’s the number one shipboard complaint women have about the behavior of men. Yelling torpedoes confidence quicker than a hole in a boat can sink it.

Sincerely,

William Winslow

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