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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #11  
Old 07-19-2007
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OK, everyone is different, but I have to agree that the best way is to give her the helm. Set the boat up to be very, very comfortable and put her at the helm. She will get to feel the power and know that for the most part she can control it. I have learned this from experience.

Twelve years ago, my wife (girlfriend at the time) wanted to learn to sail. We bought a trailerable 21' swing keel boat, a book and learned the basics. Never really pushed the boat as I was a power boater before and was as skittish as she.

After a couple of year, I fell in love with sailing and decided to double the size. Purchased a 42 footer out of Bremerton, Washington and needed to get her (the boat) down to the Columbia River and Vancouver Washington. My wife (still girlfriend) volunteered to help me take the boat the 300 miles out the Straight of Juan De Fuca into the Mighty Pacific and back up the Columbia River. Although I had been on the Ocean many times in my life, my wife had never been. It took 24 hours to get to the Ocean, there were only the two of us so shifting was required. There was not much wind so we were actually a motor boat with a mast. The ocean was kind upon entry, however before the day turned to night, we were in a gale and eventually a strong gale on the nose. At three in the morning we had to turn back to Neah Bay and was parked walking up the dock at six in the morning. Bare poles and surfing we averaged 13.5 kts and suffered one knockdown while hand steering the entire way.

One would think that after that experience, it would be all over and I would have to be a solo sailor. However, when I returned to take the boat back out to the Pacific and the Columbia, she was right by my side.

We have since married and most recently she informed me we needed a new boat. We bought one in San Diego this last November and the two of us motor sailed her up hill to Vancouver Washington, 1200 miles, in March and May of this year. It is an easy rig with mast furling main and furling genoa and while I am off shift or she is at the helm, she controls all the sail changes, navigation and radar. As we approach a port, she is at the helm while I tend the fenders and mooring lines.

She has gained her experience over time because she has been in control. She still gets a little nervous if I try to push the rig a little hard and knows she can still take the helm and be in control.

Oh, a side benefit is, I do get some rest while off shift.
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  #12  
Old 07-20-2007
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OK, let the wife sail and learn at the same time, that should allow confidence. Now I have another situation to conquer, how do I let go of the helm without showing anxiety ? You are absolutely right about not teaching your spouse how to drive. I think this weekend I'll let her decide where to sail and let her take the helm, I will be first mate and only give suggestions if asked. I think I'll look for an all womens sailing event (I know there are a few arround here) that she might really find enjoyable, although I might need to push her int it.

Last edited by dorourke; 07-20-2007 at 12:52 AM.
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  #13  
Old 07-20-2007
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
O'Rourke,
You model of sensitive 21st century manhood, you! (ok, the kidding around part is done now)
Look over on the hersailnet forum. This issue was discussed there at length and there was even female participation!
I agree with the giving her the helm as much as possible part. Start slowly with easily achieved goals, to build confidence. Instead of commanding her to move the helm one way or the other, try phrasing it with a, "maybe try....".
The driving illustration is perfect. The intense pressure to not screw up, mostly internally generated by her, can be overwhelming. If that seems to be the case, do and pay whatever it takes to get her out with someone else, male or female, for some lessons, formal or informal. The only thing i know for sure is that we do not shed the emotional baggage of our marriage just by stepping on board a boat. The irony is that they may want to suceed as much or more than we wish them to, but just cannot respond naturally to your tutelage. To keep the marriage, the boat, and fun all in the same sentence I'd endeavor to get her out with others.

And, yes, you will need to put yourself in a mind-set where you will show zero anxiety. That may require reefing from the git-go. But, short of physical harm, you should put your mind to work on the idea that it is only a damn boat. Boats may come, they may go, your marriage you want forever. If you gybe and rip out the main, well it needed replacing anyways! the funny thing about women is that they think they know how much that sail meant to you, even when it didn't. See, in my experience, just because I talk about the boat and sailing all the time it doesn't mean i value the boat or sailing above my wife. But that's the way they hear it. They think, "he doesn't talk about me, or to me, as much as he does about the boat" therefore I'm not as important to him as.... You probably know how that one goes. And again, if you're like me, you're immediate response is, " I married you, what more can i do or say to show how important you are to me?" Realizing that that line of talk is going nowhere, you endeavor to compliment her on her figure (well, it's the first thing that comes to mind right?) and make the mistake of mentioning her butt, which while you genuinely love her butt, you have forgotten that no woman loves her butt, and now you're on the outs for a day, and forget about sailing, you're not even going to be getting what you got married for!

So, if you have a modicum of success with this, let us know 'cause you ain't alone out there. Well, you are. But there's alot of us out there alone just like you, trying desperately to not do the wrong thing.

Good luck.
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  #14  
Old 07-20-2007
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Sailaway21,

You got my Name spelled right. Do I know you??!

My wife and I just celebrated our twenty-fourth anniversery yesterday and she means so much to me. I bought the boat last year when she was away on busness so I suprised her with the news when she coulden't take a swing at me. This spring when the weather was still cold I hauled her out to the boat to work on it with me, (the true story is she wanted to help me, I just thought that would sound more manely). You see she wants this togetherness on the boat to be ours if you can understand it, I'm still working on it myself. She is interested in sailing because it has to do with me and we always have a good time when were sailing together. I have a racing and competive mentality with a controlling streak in me. I'm all over the boat sailing it and I have a problem communicating to her what I'm doing. When it comes to weather I'm fine and she is a little nervous. What I'm hearing is, I need to let go and let her sail. I will report back when things come together, maybe I'll even change in the process and we men all know somethimes change isn't always easy! Where the hell is Froyd when you need him!
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  #15  
Old 07-20-2007
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
Amen brother, i hear ya, see ya just diagnosed why she's nervous. Fix it, distill it, package it, and I'll sell it. We're gonna be rich, brother! (g)
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  #16  
Old 07-20-2007
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Amen brother, rich as hell! If I could only understand her now we could rule the world!
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  #17  
Old 07-20-2007
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My wife won't drive a car or do anything mechanical on the boat. She's simply too afraid... I suppose of causing a major problem. Tiller steering like the OB completely confuse her and her sense of direction is poor. She is a very lovely person but all things mechanical are not for her.

She was extremely terrified at first.. as she doesn't swim either, but has really over come that. When we go to the boat she prefers to be aboard all weekend and not go to shore. She likes the isolation and privacy.

She does get seasick in lumpy conditions, but we have sailed through all sorts of stuff and she soldiers on usually bundled up under some blankets in the aft corner of the cockpit. She respects my thing for boating and either comes along or simpy tells me to go myself.. which I have been does for 18 yrs before I her. She has confidence in my and our boat, but since she has no ability to control anything she must live in a very friegthening world at sea. I know I would. And the idea of being in control is one thing that suits me about sailing... mastering sailing skills and my boat.

Different strokes.

jef
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  #18  
Old 07-20-2007
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TrueBlue is a jewel in the rough TrueBlue is a jewel in the rough TrueBlue is a jewel in the rough
It is obvious that some of us with first mates are control freaks with our second love and prefer to handle the heavy work ourselves. Especially the skippers with mates who may be a bit timid "controlling" some mechanical boat functions.

My sometimes skittish wife and I, share this characterization. But at the risk of stating the obvious, there may come a time when you have no choice but to give up control and allow your lumpy sea and wake fearing spouse to take command of the ship.

Quote:
She has confidence in my and our boat, but since she has no ability to control anything she must live in a very frightening world at sea. I know I would. And the idea of being in control is one thing that suits me about sailing... mastering sailing skills and my boat.

At the very least, a captain must teach his sole mate to perform some basic tasks, in anticipation of an event which may leave him incapacitated. With a COB, she must know enough to immediately toss a marker overboard, then how to follow a reciprocal compass bearing for recovery. This of course is more urgent in high seas. She needs to learn how to quickly drop the mainsail, furl the headsail, fire up the iron genny and take full control of the helm.

We practice this regularly, although I must confess - she has been reluctant to take these drills under adverse conditions - only when seas and winds are calm.
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  #19  
Old 07-20-2007
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Wow! I never realised the paralizing fear of not being in controll of your life at sea, it would be like your fate is in someone elses' hands and trust is your only link to survival, and if that trust goes overboard then panic might take over. OK, I know now what to do but how to go about it. I'll get it right for her, it'll take a little effort, she's worth it! Wow, psycology at sea "101". Lights are going on all over the place.

I guess I'll owe her a romantic movie and dinner or two after this summer.
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  #20  
Old 07-20-2007
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A blessing in disguise.

Prior to two years ago when I became ill from toxic exposure I was often considered an A personality, high energy, multi tasker. This illness has caused me to loose so much of what I used to know, and unfortunately lost my confidence because of constant problems I experienced not being able to do what I once did and not remembering how to do so many other things. Skip and I were both very strong-minded people and worked well together and I was as much a force to be reckoned with as he was. I have had to learn everything all over again, and because of this, I must rely and trust Skip so much more than ever before. He has had to learn how to communicate with me in clear detail and often in a step by step fashion.

In December when we were leaving Cumberland Island and heading out the Fernandina Inlet before daybreak, I was at the helm. Skip went below and sure enough, I took a few eight footers on the starboard side causing MISTRESS to roll 25 degrees to port, then starboard, then port, then starboard. As she began to go for the third time in this fashion, I called out, "Skip am I ok?" He called back. "Are you on course"? "Yes", I replied. "Then you are fine", and that was it for me. I was fine. Skip said so therefore there was no need for worry. He did not come running on deck to see if I was ok. He knew we were ok and therefore his response helped me understand that quite well.

As it turned out this happened several times about every 15 minutes or so. After the first incident, I had no problem; I know MISTRESS is fine and doing well. Later in the day, a Navy vessel crossed our bow from port to starboard. I knew the wake would be large and found myself a good spot on deck to await the ride. I was actually pretty excited. MISTRESS drove over those wakes like a champion, slicing right through them. Each time something happens now it proves to me that she is ready for it, plus, after all Skip has into her, if he is not worried there is certainly no reason for me to be.

Be calm with your women and let them have control. Walk away or go below when you feel the need to bite your nails. Standing over her will not give her a drop of confidence. None of our boats is that large that she cannot call out as I did and ask if she is ok. Do not race on deck it will only serve to make her think there is something to be worried about. If she has a question, she knows were to find you. Moreover, when I am at the helm and Skip is not about, I find my confidence goes up each time higher and higher. The feeling of being in total control with help ready at the asking is a great teaching tool.

From reading all the other posts it sure sounds like most of you get the fact that giving her control will be the best way to help build the confidence level of any first mate/Admiral. Someone mentioned Xanex. Maybe the captain should take one so he doesn’t worry so much about how she will respond to things. Spouses easily see when their mate is uneasy. If you are at ease, your other half will become that way too.
Kathleen
Aboard
Schooner MISTRESS
PS If I had not gotten sick, I would still be the control freak I use to be. Now I am a sheep, confident my captain has it under control allowing me to find my own grove in all of this.
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