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Hi,

I just had a "break-through" with my wife and wanted some advice on how to capitalize on it.

A little background first: My wife is not the adventuresome sort. She can't really swim and until now has had zero interest in sailing. I currently have the boat on a cradle in our backyard in the 'burbs. She tolerates it but has joked about it being her "new flower planter." She's also afraid of heights, so refuses to climb the 8' up the ladder to look at it. So far, her only expressed interest in the boat is for sunbathing and fishing (oddly, she likes to fish and I don't). My children (6 and 8) on the other hand love the boat and can't wait to put it in the water.

Just the other day, though, I mentioned a thread I read on this board about a man who sailed to the Carribean for four months and how much fun he had and how he moored at resorts for low fees. She then asked if my boat ( a Soverel 26) would be able to sail to the Carib from the Great Lakes. I told her that for that type of distance I would prefer a larger boat (I said 34 foot). She thought 26 was big enough and I said we could vacation around the Great Lakes for a few years first. Somehow she all of a sudden was interested. She started asking when I'd be done with the work to launch and how much was dockage, etc.

I need to know, from the ladies, what is going on and how to keep her interest in sailing. I think that she is not really interested in the whole sailing and sailboat part of it, but in the family time/vacation/liesure aspect - I guess lifestyle is a good word. My tentative plan - once I'm in the water - is to start off taking the boat out by myself and then with my (more adventuresome) kids - they'll be 8 and 10 by then. Once I get her out, I'll make sure that there is either an activity planned, such as fishing, or a destination - my Aunt has a beach nearby and there are some nice port towns not too far away. I want to make sure that there is something "fun" planned besides sailing - I'll handle that kind of fun on my own or with my kids. Once she's more accustomed, then we'll head out to the islands or further destinations for weekending.

So what do you think, and what should I do? Thanks in advance.
 

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It sounds like you are on the right track although I have always loved the water and I have enjoyed sailing from day 1.

One thing that I often hear about being a problem is that some husbands are impatient with their wives while learning and sailing and it often end up turning the wives off. I am very fortunate that my husband is extremely patient and wiling to teach me anything I want to learn.

I am not saying that we don't have our moments, but they are few and far between.

The other thing that might help is to have some of your friends go out with you and make it a social thing, if you have the room to do so.
 

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My wife likes the cruising aspect of sailing. She can handle the boat and relieves me when necessary, but prefers to help me get away from the dock and settle back with a glass of wine or cup of coffee and just relax.

She was a little wary of taking a long trip, but agreed to make the trek from the Chesapeake to the Bahamas. We had a wonderful time and met a lot of great people. Here is a picture log of our trip. Hope it helps get her excited.

Split Decision
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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My suggestion would be to enroll her in a women only weekend ASA course. Having a bit of confidence in your own ability to work with the wind, water and boat in order to get moving is a huge help in instilling a love of sailing. Knowledge is power after all and self confidence is a wonderful thing to have.

The women only courses are also great because it will allow her to socilaize with other women who are starting off in the sport. You know how we all like to go to the bathroom in groups? Turns out we like to be in groups for lots of things. ;)
 

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ex-Navy
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Tom,
First of all, follow Mimsy's advice. My wife took a weekend course from Womanship (don't know if they're in your neck of the woods but if so my wife and I highly recommend them) right after we bought Enchantress and it really helped her confidence in handling what was a much bigger boat than she'd ever sailed.
After we got Enchantress we sailed her for a season to see just what fixes, upgrades and improvements we needed to make. Then I had her on the hard for a year while I did the work.
This is what my wife told me had to be fixed:
The head -- she could not stand the smell and the fact that you had to manually pump it out. I replaced it with and Vacuflush (and a freshwater tank all its own) and a bigger holding tank. I replaced the hoses and washed the whole area out with Lysol to eliminate the problem.
The sink and the fresh water -- the stainless sink was pitted and in bad shape and the water, despite the filter, did not taste good. I replaced the sink with an acryllic sink from Home Depot ($69.95 on sale), replaced all the hoses in the system and got a Seagull water filter (IMHO the best but expensive) and solved that problem.
Fans and ventilation , especially in the galley. Since I was completely redoing the electrical system (AC and DC) it was no problem to put in fans. also put in more opening ports.
Cleaning the boat: I hired a crew to throroughly clean the boat. It wasn't as clean as my wife liked buit it made it possibel fopr her to finish the job without too much effort.
I taught how to use both the paper charts and the GPS so she could always tell about where we were.
Finally we moved the boat to the nicest marina on the Chesapeake.
Future improvement, much bigger primary winches. She cannot handle the big genoa with the winches we have so now when I sail with her is use the 100% jib. But for safety sake both of us need to be able to crank the sails.
My wife now can't wait for me to get home on Friday so we can take off for the boat.
Don't know how much of this will apply to you but if you pay attention to her needs and make sailing easy and pleasant you can't go wrong
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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Just wanted to add that a full on, over night weekend women's course can be upsold by reminding her that the kids can't go. A bit of "me time" is an awesome selling point. Throw in a massage and I doubt you will hear any misgivings about the adventure...
 

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I'd rather be sailing
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Alternatively, enroll her in a co-ed ASA liveaboard course. When my wife got interested in sailing, she went to Bluewater Sailing School in FL for a week. She said the last thing she wanted to do was spend a week on a boat with all women! Of course, she's not your ordinary chick - she does the diesel work, the plumbing work (including replacing our head and unclogging our waste hoses) and a lot of the other manual labor (for example, 5 days of compounding, polishing and waxing our hull). Anyway, I digress. I'm sure your wife would hate a week in a tropical location. My wife came back all excited to get out sailing to try out everything she learned, and now we live on our boat, cruising the east coast and the Bahamas (with our kids).
 

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From the ages of the kids you seem to be talking about being two years away from launching. That will occupy a lot of your time if you are working on the boat and may cause some resentment if you are not careful to set aside wife's and children's time.
I would try to make the benefits more real to her, possibly by a trip sooner, and maybe by involving her in colors etc which is a bit more difficult if like many she is wary of ladders, but not impossible.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm trying to be very careful with my time management. I'm doing my best to make sure I put in a good effort on her "honey-do" list. Mostly I work on the boat while she is at work and scramble an hour before she gets home to do other chores around the house. That's the great thing about having the boat next to the house - its easy to steal an hour or so a day to work on the boat. Over the course of two years that adds up to a lot of time. I used to keep the boat at my parents' house. The round trip drive was about 45 mins, so I needed to do my work in large chunks of time which are both harder to find and create more resentment.

She's been talking about a vacation in Maine. I'm not sure if I have the time this Summer, but I will next year. She's never been there and I'm not sure what got her interested in it, but that would seem like a great opportunity to peak her interest. I was thinking Boothbay Harbor windjammer days. I'll have to be careful, though, as she might want to move.
 

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She's been talking about a vacation in Maine. I'm not sure if I have the time this Summer, but I will next year. She's never been there and I'm not sure what got her interested in it, but that would seem like a great opportunity to peak her interest. I was thinking Boothbay Harbor windjammer days. I'll have to be careful, though, as she might want to move.
Send her to the Wooden Boat School in Brooklin Maine and take a sailing class, great people fantastic views. I cant wait to go back. I did the diesel class and coastal navigation. Lots of stuff to do.
 

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Handsome devil
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Tom:

How about a week charter in that paradise she is yearning for to set the hook deep...

It will also give her confidance knowing a professional skipper ( not that you are not ) is in control of the whole boat handeling/navigation thing the first go around as well.....I would have had to do that if I would not have started mine out slowly power boating. Its still to early to tell if she will ever cross an ocean.

Something like this ought to do it.:)
 

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My wife's pet hate in camping on a boat is no shower, so I bought a toilet tent and portable shower takes 10 mins to set up on deck and she will now sail over night.

You must find out her dislikes help her elevate her problems.
I like the idea of sending her to sail school mines like HerbDB`s sits back and relaxes.
 

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I was very afraid of heeling, to the point where I was uncomfortable. My poor husband could not even use the head since I was afraid to get behind the helm.

I took the ASA 101 course on basic keelboat this summer. Now I am always behind the helm. My instructor taught me more in 3 days then my husband in 2 years. He knew my fear of heeling, and got me to single hand the boat in 25 knots of wind for 5 hours. Amazing what you can do when you reef (something my husband didn't understand).

Have your wife take a course. It is the best thing.
 

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Tom:

One thing I do that really turns off my wife and kids (older teens) is that I often have little projects to do on the boat, like attach this or re-rig that - you know, little things I think of during the week that I put on my list of chores when I get to the slip, an hour and fifteen minutes away. For me, this is part of the fun of owning and understanding a sailboat - the constant tinkering and upgrading.

But my wife really dislikes sitting in the clubhouse waiting for me - she has to chat with strangers (I love to chat), sit there with nothing to do, feels like she's wasting time, etc., even if it's for 15 minutes. And as we KNOW from being guys who like to TINKER with our TOYS, a 15 minute chore often can suddenly become an hour.

So I've learned to do a few different things:

1) forego a lot of little things that I would like to do and just skip them
2) talk to my wife and/or kids beforehand and ask permission to take 15 or 20 minutes to do a few things before we sail, WELL BEFORE WE ARRIVE
3) make sure it only stays to that amount of time
4) find a way to get up there some other time to do these things

It's frustrating to me because hanging out at the club and tinkering with the boat, and chatting with folks as they walk by and comment on the work is all part of why I've moved my trailerable to a slip and club. But it's not for my family. And if I want to engage my family I need to put their needs foremost. If don't do this I run the risk of becoming yet another middle-aged guy having a few too many beers on his boat after a solo saturday sail.

Carlos
 

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When she gets to that 'nesting stage' (and she will, a boat is more fun than a doll house ; -) encourage her. Do not quibble about how her cool stuff isn't what you had in mind. Don't tell her how impractical half her ideas are, she will figure it out. That's half the fun!

And I affirm that paying attention to her punch list of comforts is critical. While I never claim to be low maintenance, I figger I am one of the hardier women around. I don't cavil at doing the *yucky* stuff. But wanting a shower was my big issue. And Himself kept pointing out how impractical it would be and how little we would actually use it and how much bother it would be to use when we did. Until he figured out it isn't so much TAKING the showers... it's wanting to know that after I do the *yucky* stuff I CAN if I want to... and he has put a shower, highly impractical and unnecessary, into the plan. Likewise a real head, not a portapottie, and it means a lot to me!

SO glad to hear she is getting interested... and it sounds like you are doing all the right stuff already and she is just coming to it in her own time. Have a wonderful time making it wonderful for your whole family!
 

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Mark on Camper 58
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We've been doing some checking on those courses. It appears that most of the ASA schools require you to have completed the level 1&2 course before venturing into the more advanced and overnight classes. The 1 -2 course con frequently be combined. These teach basic sailing skills on small boats where there is less possibility of danger, power, injury. (cost of a mistake is a good dunking)

I agree with Mimsy. You will enjoy sailing together if you are not on pins and needles worrying about what she is thinking or about what mistake she might make. Much better to know you can rely on her to bail your but out when you need it. Otherwise, you are worse than single handed.

Women Sail offers classes in regularly scheduled cool vacation places and also will arrange to do a class on your own boat including mixed crew. Also, check the yacht clubs in your area. You may be able to find classes, find an instructor, arrange your own class program.
 

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I've sailed since i was small, and introduces my husband to it who loves it. I belong to a Yacht club in north Wales in the UK and I am always surprised how many wives/girlfriends don’t sail because their other half has frightened them half to death. Be sneaky and take her out for sails on beautiful days and don’t talk about when it all went horrible wrong and had an awful sail. Keep everything low key and make sure her opinion is matters, There is nothing worse than in my case wanting to go to Scotland and having to go to Southern Ireland again because that’s is where he wants to go.

Get her involved with the deck work. Show her how to start and stop the engine and how to steer the boat. Don’t do everything yourself, take the time to show her. Also, many woman, find that they just end up doing the chores they do at home in worse conditions, while the kids have fun in some cases, couples who have sailed for years find that the wife's skills are hardly up to scratch as the kids have done all the crewing work on the boat and wifey is in the galley again.

And it’s hardly a holiday if you spend Breakfast noon and dinner in the galley cooking for 4 on little more that camping stove. Have bbq ashore, meals out. Trips off the boat. Allow her time to herself there is pressure privacy on a boat. Even without kids. There is a difference between sailing and cruising.

Read any of the book by Lyn Pardey, they are all good and give opinion from a woman’s point of view.
Above all else have fun doing it and good luck and it’s raining in the west midland in the uk.
 

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Build a set of stairs (at a minimum) and a "dock" adjacent to the boat in your backyard. Not only will that make it easier for your wife to get up on the boat if she is afraid of ladders, it will make a lot easier for you as you work on the boat.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what I'm talking about:





 

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Admirals fav target
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Seems like everyone missed the most important thing. Your wife loves to fish! Add a couple of rod holders to the back of the boat. Sailboats are the ultimate trolling machine! She'll be next to the steering and learning to handle the sails to slow the boat down when you catch a fish is a great step towards many of the things that need to be done when underway. (Dude, your "in" is the fishing thing, take advantage of it!)
 
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