Make No Assumptions.
I have placed this in "Her SailNet" as most often, but not always, ladies are on yachts at the behest of their husbands/boy-friends if not by their own volition. However, regardless of whether it is the male or female of the species that brings a mate to the sport/avocation of sailing, or any other endeavor, the warning I have to offer holds true. Do not believe that simply because one's mate/much better half/wife/husband/ or what have you has been aboard, or elsewhere, observing you use heavy equipment, and perhaps under limited circumstances, using it themselves, that he or she is thoroughly enough acquainted with the vagaries and nuances of the gear and able to use it safely and effectively themselves without your immediate presence.
As I write this my (much, much) better half lays in the adjoining room, in our bed, swathed in bandages, covered in bruises and with a cast on her right hand and arm because I assumed that, having observed me using, and having used herself several times, with and without my supervision, a very large and powerful piece of equipment, that she was adequately versed in its operation and use. She was not. And, only by the grace of God and a 6" or so margin, is she alive tonight and (relatively) okay, and me not grieving over her crushed, dead body at a mortuary somewhere. It has been a horrible two days since last Sunday night and I have spent two near sleepless nights and days for my own foolish, if not entirely stupid, assumptions and consequential failure to ensure she adequately and thoroughly understood the complete and safe operation of the equipment she was using in my absence. In our case it did not happen aboard the yacht, but, upon reflection, it easily could have with some other piece of gear. A 4'-11", 105#, 58 year old woman, could/would have stood no chance against a hurtling 2 ton object save for the Grace of G_d..
In our case it was an automobile that she had previously driven but only intermittently and rarely without me aboard (she doesn't drink and so, if I have more than two glasses of wine while we're out, by our agreement she drives). Because I needed her "truck" (i.e. RX 350) to shlep some equipment up to the yacht in preparation for our planned Christmas cruise, she was driving my car, which has an entirely different parking brake arrangement than does her truck, regardless of the fact that they are built by the same manufacturer. When parking she routinely sets the emergency/parking brake which I virtually never do. So, when she came out to the car in the dark, late Sunday evening, she could not figure out how to release the parking brake which, on her car, merely requires a push on the brake peddle but on my car requires the pull of a lever under the port side of the dash board. Because of the darkness, she opened the driver's side door and in the dim illumination of the dome light, stepped out of the car and knelt down to find the parking brake release. Because the car would not move with the brake set, she did not realize that she had not shoved the gearshift back into park. Accordingly, when she found and pulled the parking brake release, the car lurched backward, with the open door, knocking her to the ground, catching her garment and dragging her along aside the car. In the sand and shell covered parking lot her clothes, legs and back were torn to shreds until the garment finely tore enough to release her although, with that, the front left tire rolled over her right arm and hand. Had she been on pavement and not, relatively, soft sand, her arm would have been destroyed rather than simply "crushed". Likewise, judging by the tread-marks on the ground and on her jacket, had the car been 6" or so further left, her face and skull would have been crushed. It did not happen but the horror of the possibility, alone, has keep me sleepless at her side since the event.
The event has also brought to mind the number of times I have allowed her to use equipment aboard and about the yacht, assuming that as she has seen me do the same for 25+ years, she is equally qualified to do so but now realizing that she may not be, or certainly is not, without specific training and repeat drills so that ones' skills/training do not wither for want of use. Given the painful lesson I have learned with this, I thought the least I could do is share it, and the warning, with others, lest they and their partners be forced to learn the same painful lesson as have I. Share your knowledge with you partner. Practice and run your and your partner's drills and sharpen your skills routinely. Either, or both, of your comfort and safety, to say nothing of lives, may depend upon them.
"It is not so much for its beauty that the sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."