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post #12 of Old 06-16-2012
Crazy Woman Boat Driver
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Re: girls and heels

This topic comes up here at least once a year. There have been articles written about it. I used to teach when I was in a yacht club the wives, SO and GF's the finer points of sailing. For starters women don't like to be put in a situation where we feel we are in harms way. Not feeling secure in our environment and the skipper of the boat telling them "To get over it, the boat is safe" is not the way to win the hearts of their loved one. While burying the rail in the water might be fun, (I do in on many occasions myself) to most women it is not.
When I used to teach, I would have a small box on the dock. I would invite those who want to learn and overcome their fears over to Sundowners. While chatting about this wonderful sport over a few drinks and appetizers I would have all my guest write down on separate piece of paper all their fears. Of course heeling was #1. We would go over each fear with demonstrations, actually equipment use, theory, and a trip to the maintenance yard to see boats out of water.
For the fear of heeling I would use the fat boy on the teeter tatter theory to explain why a keel boat wouldn't tip over. We would than go to the maintenance yard to see, touch and feel the keel (fat boy). We would than talk about the different designs of all the keels and the effects of each in maneuvering the boat and the various characteristics of each keel. For the responder on going to hobbie cat to teach I would highly not recommend this one for the over coming the fear of tipping over. They tip over very easily. After we have discussed each of their fears those pieces of paper would go in the box on the dock. I would than announced when we leave the dock that their fears are left at the dock and let the fun begin.
I would than take the ladies out on the water with the main only explaining everything we do, keeping the boat as flat as possible. I would introduce the jib only when everyone is comfortable with first going downwind, slowly turing the boat to windward through the various points of tack in-between. Even on the reach I would keep the boat no greater than 15 degrees. Of course on most boats this is the efficient heel angle for speed.
The other concern of heeling is feeling secure in the cockpit and down below. On larger sailboats (over 30') there are few places to brace ourselves with our feet or other means. Most of us women have short legs. If we cannot brace ourselves using either the other side of the settee, middle cockpit table, or other bracing devices we will not feel secure. You will have to find a way for us to brace ourselves or we won't go on the boat in the future. For the real skittish person I love the two stern seats found on most production boats. I find these to be the best seats in the house.
Going down below to get refreshments, preparing a meal or using the head I alway suggest either flatting the boat completely by sailing downwind or my favorite heave-to (especially when preparing food) would do wonders in keeping us on board. If not you go down while we take the helm.
Taking the helm is another discussion all together and I will save my rant for a later time.
Hope this helps someone.

Melissa Renee
Catalina 445, Hull #90

Last edited by Melrna; 06-16-2012 at 12:30 PM.
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