Could she sail the boat if necessary? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 138 Old 01-27-2012 Thread Starter
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Could she sail the boat if necessary?

About two years ago I was discussing our cruising plans with a part-time sailing instructor and he said "it's not your sailing skills that should be of concern, but your wife's! Could she turn the boat and get you into port if necessary?" My honest answer was "I doubt it". After spending six months cruising the Keys and US East Coast, my answer to that same question now is "absolutely not!"

Understand, my wife is a fantastic First Mate...pulls wire in the tiny floor lockers, sands and refinishes teak, cleans, cooks, helps with oil changes and hands tools when I'm half buried in the bilge. But she has no idea how to sail the boat. Yes, she does an off-coast auto pilot night watch with me sleeping in the cockpit. But as that instructor asked, I must conclude if I'm incapacitated, there isn't a chance she can drop the sails, determine a heading to return, or even dream of docking. If absolutely necessary, she could drop anchor but is clueless about the dangers of injury during windlass operation.

Now if you're thinking..."what a ditz he's got". My sweet little beauty queen has several advanced science/math degrees in stuff I can't even spell let alone comprehend and she taught her last six years at college level until retiring.

What is lacking is desire! Just as I have no desire to understand simultaneous equations or how to balance electrons in a chemical compound, she has no desire to pick up a sailing book, learn to dock the boat, navigate, or take a sailing course.

I must now think of each cruise plan with an eye to "exposure" or the amount of time in open water. The Bahamas is our next adventure creating approximately 10 - 12 hours "exposure" time while crossing the Gulf Stream.

I know my situation isn't unique...I've observed Captains yelling at the First Mate to drop a line, push off the piling, back down on the anchor, and on and on, telling me that First Mate doesn't understand what is necessary either.

Am I asking too much? ...should I just drop to my knees and thank the Good Lord she is willing to sail with me and help in all the ways she does? ...or should I be concerned for her well being if "the big one" nails me?

What do you do? Can your First Mate sail/dock the boat?
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post #2 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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I'm still looking for the one that can! Singlehanded sailor..Dale

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post #3 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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Buy a sat phone?

Are you absolutely sure it is no desire or is it no desire to compete with you.
Have you discussed the safety implications of her lack of skills?

And yes I suspect many of us have a similar problem.
It could be lack of interest, lack of strength or just not much experience.

You could fake an injury.
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post #4 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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Dock
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Can your First Mate sail/dock the boat?
Yes, he can.

Donna



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post #5 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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Yep, mine can too. That's not to say we don't have our complementary strengths - he's the better sail trimmer, I'm the better navigator - but as a matter of safety, each of us has learned to do all the tasks required on the boat if even at a rudimentary level.


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post #6 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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My wife can do most things - she will not dock the boat. Last year I had an incredible staph infection on the top of the back of one leg. The swelling reached the size of a softball and I had a bit of a fever and could not get comfortable lying down or sitting - standing was ok. My wife mostly singlehanded for about a week between Easter Island and Pitcairn Island - which is a particuiarly empty part of the ocean - plus she did treatments (hot compresses, cleaning out the crud, put on topical antibiotics, put on new dressings - twice a day. I did some watches and that was about it - the infection also went I tired more easily than normal. She did not know she could do all this, but I sort of suspected that she could since she is pretty tough and resilient - grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution etc. She is now much more confident. She certainly did not enjoy it but knows she can do it.

Heading back to Lake Ontario for this summer. Ainia is back in North America for the first time since 2010. Currently in Long Island Sound.
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post #7 of 138 Old 01-27-2012
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Am I asking too much? ...should I just drop to my knees and thank the Good Lord she is willing to sail with me and help in all the ways she does? ...or should I be concerned for her well being if "the big one" nails me?
It's possible that your dream isn't her dream and that she found tasks that she likes to do (or doesn't mind doing) in order to spend quality time with you. Otherwise, would you sail off and leave her at home? Not saying there's anything wrong with that, but it would be time you aren't together.

As far as her knowing how to dock and navigate, I am a proponent of all owners of a boat knowing how to return to the dock or, at the very least, drop anchor in a safe spot and wait for help, but it's possible that your wife will draw on her intelligence having watched you do all that and work it out. It might not be a picture perfect docking, but how often does that happen anyway?

Donna



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post #8 of 138 Old 01-28-2012
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Um, with all respect, you should be having this conversation with *her* instead of with us? She's probably the best person to tell you her take on this and why she isn't interested in learning.

Maybe, as Donna has implied, she's doing what she can to support your dream (which isn't hers). Maybe she's looking at the scene you describe of "...Captains yelling at the First Mate to drop a line, push off the piling, back down on the anchor, and on and on, telling me that First Mate doesn't understand what is necessary..." and thinking she wants to stay away from that. Wow. Notice how paternalistic and sexist that quote out of context sounds? I wouldn't want any part of it either.
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post #9 of 138 Old 01-28-2012
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some couples have and do work well together,others not so much,i usually sail alone,if a mistake is made i'm the only one to suffer,i fully expect there are woman sailors who are much more skilled and knowlegible than me but thats my call and my a** if the shi* hits the fan
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post #10 of 138 Old 01-28-2012
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why does laura dekker keep coming into my mind!
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