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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,
I am a Swedish woman, living in Sweden and currently writing a book about common causes of on board conflicts. As you know, there are thousands of books on technical boat issues, but very little has been written about what really happens when people share such a small space as a boat. My book will deal with expectations, gender roles, leadership, fear and secuity, coming home again and more.

I´m writing this, hoping that you would like to contribute by sharing your own conflict experiences or those of others. This book will provide important information to those preparing to cruise for a longer period of time as well as those going for shorter cruises. My aim, of course, is to prepare future cruisers for difficulties that may arise when going cruising.
Please get in touch with me for more information. I am looking forward to your e-mail!
Kind regards
Marie Blomqvist
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Hi Marie,
If you would like to make contact with me? I have been at sea for 22 months, sailed only with girls and have completed 300 miles : Keys, Cuba, Exumas and Abaco, hurricane Floyd survivor...What do you want to know??
Mike
 

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Hey Mike,
Thanks for replying!
I am interested in knowing about any experiences you might have about conflicts when sharing such a small space as a boat, money conflicts when cruising, difference of expectations before you set out and what that might lead to, conflicts about what to do once you reach land, about sacrifices you had to make, such as selling your home, missing friends and children and parents, gender roles on aboard (he is captain, she is first mate is very common, although that is not usually the case when living on land and how does a woman cope with that??) And what about women who decide to accompany their men, although they do not really want to.
I all honesty, I think more women than men experience theese difficulties. But if you have any personal, concrete experiences, I would appreciate it if you would share them with me. And, if any of your women sailors would like to have a conversation about this, I would appreciate her e-mail address.

I am sorry for not replying until now, things have been really hectic for a while. And by the way, are you sailing at the moment, and if so, where are you now?
 

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You might want to check out a book by Alayne Main who is from my neck of the woods and who writes from personal experience about the emotional side of extended cruising from a woman''s perspective. It is available through www.nauticalmind.com

Title: Sailing Promise: Around the World on a Catamaran

Alayne Main had an exciting medical career and minimal sailing experience,
but she and her new husband quit their jobs, bought a 33-foot catamaran,
and sailed away anyway. Their shared challenges were immense--storms at
sea, a collision with a whale, the threat of pirates--but her greatest challenge
was the emotional turmoil their adventurous and uncertain lifestyle created.
When her marriage began to fall apart, Main was forced to deal with her
fears and understand what drove her to continue sailing across vast
unpredictable oceans with only her husband to turn to.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
This message board is horrible. I have replied but I can''t see my reply to you.
(in my past reply I should have said 3000 miles over 22 months). Of course in an ideal world we should be able to sort out before hand characture mismarches - but sailing, sailing in confined spaces, owner with mate, who does what, the ground rules, etc: are all frought with problems. You can imagine, in 22 months - there is not enough space here to give you my experiences. If anyone is interested, e-mail to ''[email protected]'' (this is my land-based PC) and I can expand as required. I''m 53, single, hetro, very GSH, non-smoker, drinking, dancing and good time guy - sailing is now my prefered way of life - so just ask away.............
 

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Hello Marie,

I have done a number of charters. I can tell you that chartering with different people is like taking pot luck. Sometimes everything works out so well, you get the feeling that it will always be harmonious.

As a woman, I find it hard to be a "good" skipper sometimes; particularily with inexperienced persons. By "good" I mean being nice and likeable. It seems that male inexperienced sailors have the biggest problems accepting "commands" from a woman. I never know why this is such an issue, but some men like to disguise their ignorance with macho braveur.

It is an interesting pyschological game, to which I have yet to find the optimum solution. If I give a male inexperienced person an instruction for an assignment he understands and is familiar with, and this instruction is vital for safety purposes, I do not like to discuss this until time has run out, and the situation cannot be saved. Either I have to raise my voice, or usually I have to do the job myself. In either case, I am thus regarded as the bitchy she-captain who has hormone problems.

I have oftened asked myself, if this problem lies in my voice, or the manner in which I have explained something, or my impatience, maybe. Then I tend to disagree that the problem lies within my person, since when I sail with people who have even a little experience, these persons can recognize, say potential dangers, that I also see. I have no problems with inexperienced women.

Perhaps it lies in the age-old chauvanistic adige, "men speak and women prattle". Some men will not accept instruction from women; there is a psychological barrier. It is a potentially big problem for longer cruises, because it can border on mutany.

I have tried a pyschological trick, that has marginal results, and sometimes I apply if time allows. I tell the man: "We have 30 seconds to save this or that situation, if you have a better solution, tell it to me in 5 words or less! If not, do what I say or get out of the way!" This trick has two advantages: The man has to shut up and think for a moment, and either can blurt out his answer, if he truly has a better idea, or his still occuppied with the puzzle you just gave him, while I remedy the situation alone.

I think if men are skippers and women are mates, it works out a little smoother, because women can accept expertise from either gender. The other way around gives us in this day and age competence conflicts.

I know of several women skippers, who hate the word "skipper". They call themselves boat organisers or managers, so that their male companions are not embarassed or challanged, by admitting "yah, the girl''s the big boss". The only harmonious type of sailing relationship I know of is equal partnerships on board, say like Sue & Larry. I don''t imagine they have squabbles all the time. I suppose that one of the ways of avoiding conflicts, is choosing your shipmates that have near equal experience. That, at least, may help avoid the needless arguements.

I look forward to reading your book in the future. Wishing you luck would be out of place, as you may see, the interest is overwhelming, and I am sure it will be an absolute success!

Yours,
Weissdorn
 

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Weissdorn, Great idea (30 seconds to respond)on how to handle crew members that wish to challenge every decision. I''ll have to remember that one. But, don''t think that your experience is limited to male crew challenging a female skipper. The same crew member that gives you a hard time would likely give a male skipper the same challenge. Though there may be a greater propensity in the male crew / female skipper combination for a challenge. But, I''ve had my share of obstinant crew members challenging my decisions as well. At 6''3" and 220 pounds, I have at least one more option than you in dealing with that. Bottom line though is that good communication, planning and fostering teamwork is what make great skippers. In short - brains are better than brawn. And, there is no substitute for experience! Give me the experience "seat of the pants" skipper over the intellect anyday. The very best skippers can communicate their combined experiential knowledge and learned book knowledge to their crew early in the game to obtain buy in from the crew. It''s not much different than management in the corporate world. BTW, the first challenge is likely to occur at the first anchorage. If you haven''t obtained buy in from your crew regarding location, anchor type, amount of scope, etc. expect a challenge. As a skipper I work hardest at communication. When I get that right, everything falls into place.
 

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I sailed with my now ex-guy friend for 2yrs. on his boat. After 2 long yrs. of total hell, I finally smartened up. I ditched him, came home, and bought my own boat. My dog and I are now in 7th Heaven, no more conflicts for us!! Sheela
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Have any ladies out there had any trouble with thier husbands/boyfriends that try to control every little detail on the boat and your left standing...saying duuuuhhh what DO I DO????? Even as far as the decorating is concerned in the cabin AND not putting any of woman''s magazines (that isn''t about sailing ...of course) in the chart box when docked.

Let me give an example....when we go sailing "he" puts up the sails, "he"lefts anchor, "he" is at the helm and so forth... I want to learn all this and he knows it! BUT he insists on doing it at the time. When we are home, he has always said he wants me to learn but when we are out there..its a different story. Yes...I have said many times that I want to help but he leads me on and then I never do get too. I feel like a little child, but if we are going to make a lifestyle of sailing..I need to learn!

Any suggestions or advice from you experienced ladies who has dealt with this kind of problem is greatly appreciated! In other words....HEEEeeelllp! We are preparing to move permantly on our(his) boat in Oct.

P.S. This is his first marriage at the age of 38 and has always done adventures on his own, alone!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
This could have been my wife 26 years ago.

There is no hope. I am still the same. She just sit''s back and lets me do everything.

She got to pick the new cushions however.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you MikeMoss for your reply. Although, I want to do more then just sit back. I suppose I''ll have to be patient and persistant at the same time.....least your wife got to pick out the cushions...I''ve yet to be able to do that!

In October, will be the first time I''ve ever lived on a boat. I love sailing and have an eagerness to learn everything that there is to it. As I give away some of my belongings today I feel an excitment for our new life ahead of us. No matter what storms via real life or marital, I''m up for the task of making this work.

Thanks again for your reply and I guess it''d make my husband feel better that he isn''t alone being like he is....shssheeeshshh
 

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In your case just be patient. Watch him and figure out how you would do each task that he does now. For instance he may be bigger and stronger but as long as you are even a little agile you can do the same things your way.

So wait for something to go wrong and then help.

I have to admit that I single hand the boat even with guests on board. The only help I accept is when one particular friend is on board. He owns the same model boat and is really good at sailing as he has been crew on many winning offshore races. Others just get in the way.
 
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I think that resolving on-board conflicts depends heavily on the two people involved, and their love and commitment toward each other. Living with anyone on a small boat can create tensions. There are bound to be traits and issues that you don''t notice ashore but in the close accommodations and ''no-where-to-go-ness'' of a boat underway, can really become irritating.

My wife and I met through sailing. I was campaigning my boat in the rather aggressive Laser 28 one-design fleet. I needed a foredeck person. Laurie had been racing on J-24''s and did foredeck. She came highly recommended.

We hit it off right away. Laurie had not done much cruising but was an experienced sailor. Things worked well for us in our day to day lives, on the racecourse and at first as cruisers but over time we began to run into ''issues''.

Before Laurie and I had gotten together I had single handed my boat a lot and most of the woman I had dated were non-sailors so it was more like single handing with passengers.

As a result, I had typically I just sailed the boat the way I felt like and basically did everything on board. Over time, as the blush was off the rose, and Laurie and I more time sailing we began to have friction. When we got together we were sailing on my boat. Now we were sailing on our boat and it took a while for that to sink in for me.

Finally things erupted and Laurie verbalized her resentment that I did not involve her in sailing the boat when we were cruising. We talked about this over the course of a long weekend and I came to understand where Laurie was coming from and she where I was coming from.

We tried a number of things. We took turns skippering. One day Laurie would decide where we were going, would do the navigation and make the decisions, and another I would. We also talked about how we would do things. Before this conversation I would simply say, we''re tacking and throw the helm. If I Laurie did not move to handle the tack, I simply handled it. To me it was no big deal but after we had our chat, we began a different process. If one of us thought it was time to do something, they would say what they were thinking of doing and why they were thinking of doing it. The conversation typically went something like, "I think we ought to tack and out of the deeper part of the channel during slack tide and before the current is against us. What do you want to do here?" (Or "Do you mind breaking the sheets?") This is not a hard thing to do once you get in the habit but it engages the other person in the process and allows them to voice an alternative idea.

We do a lot with ''passwords'', words that have special meaning to two of us. For example, there are times when Laurie just feels like being a passenger. This is done with humor and a password. She''ll typically say something like, ''Time to go be a boat bimbo'' which roughly translates to "I am going to lounge about the deck and leave you to sail. Where do you want my weight?"

Some are a matter of necessity. Such as when things really get difficult with weather or other problem on board. I actually have a lot more years of boat handling and skippering under my belt and at those times by mutual agreement I take over and we work as a team but clearly I am the one making the decisions. When things are really dangerous, like the time we got caught in 65 knot winds, I need to be able to stay focused on the situation and I can''t always take time to talk or listen for that matter. Laurie like most people in that situation wants to talk almost out of nervousness. We have a password for that situation as well. I typically say, "I need to be able to think." From conversations that we have had at calmer times this translates into something like "I am suffering a bit of sensory overload so only pass along information that you think is highly critical."

One of our best working passwords came out of a pre-marriage class that we took. We had an inter-denominational wedding and Laurie''s wanted a priest from her church to officiate in the Christian part of the wedding. (He was a neat guy but that is off the point.) In order to do that we had to go through a pre-marital course at her Church. We''d each been married and divorced previously and so approached this course with the feeling it was just another box to be checked like getting a wedding license. When we got into the course we actually both found that it was very helpful. One of the most helpful hints came from a gentleman who''d been married for more than 50 years. He said that when he and his wife had a dust up, as soon as he knew he was right he apologized profusely.

Now then, since Laurie and I were each in the room when he was talking this lead to one of our most effective ''passwords''. When one of us notices that the tone of a ''discussion'' gets too heated to be an effective exchange of ideas, that person will quickly apologize. Of course, the other person''s retort is always, ''Don''t you try to apologize first''. It usually breaks the tension and results in a little giggle. By having a ''password'' that suggests, with humor, that we are fighting to be right rather than trying to work through to an mutually agreeable resolution, we are able to stop the pattern that is emerging. We can then pull away from the kind of discussion that can be hurtful to a relationship and find a calmer ground to at least try to understand the other person''s position, see what we have in common in our stance and perhaps come to agreement on whatever we can.

We are both very competent people who are used to making decisions for ourselves. We are also competitive and used to directing other people. Without a way to work through things, respect for the other''s opinion (even when you disagree with them) and an understanding that there is almost no issue that is more important than not doing damage to the other person or our relationship, I don''t think we could have lasted as long as we have.

Good luck with your book,
It is sure needed!
Regards
Jeff
 
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Another lesson in resolving conflicts taught to me by my first wife a bit too late to save that marriage is "Its not what it is, its what it feels like." Guys tend to think of conflicts as solely being about solving some problem. So, for example, when a woman feels powerless on board, a guy''s first response might be to try to give her some power, "You can pick the cushion colors." is a real classic guy response.

The problem is that this response really ignores the feeling, in this case ''feeling powerless'', may have less to do with having real powers on board and more to do with how the she is spoken to and involved in the processes on board. In other words less to do with how things actually happen and more about how it feels like they happen.

In my 20''s, I could not get this idea. My immediate response was to try to do a quick fix to the ''problem''. Now I find myself listening for the ''feel'' word, and when I hear it or sense its there somewhere, I stop to ask questions and try to understand if perhaps there is something more than the simple problem that appears on the surface.

So guys the next time you hear, "I feel...." or "I was hurt by..." and you ask in a classic guy way," Give me an example.", don''t focus on why you think you might be right in that case, but on what you may have done to cause you S.O. to feel that way and more significantly look for ways to not create emotion again. The wife you save may be your own!
Jeff
 

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Dear Marie;
Hi, my name is Anne, I''m a graduate student in Los Angeles studying film, and also crew on a Hobie Cat. My thesis film project that I''m working on is a documentary on gender roles and the effects of competition upon racing relationships of Catamaran sailors. I came across your posting and would love swap some ideas, thoughts, etc with you. If you have any interest in this, please write me at: [email protected]
 

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Take a class or two at a sailing school. My husband wanted to get more involved in sailing and I had zero experience. I decided to find a sailing school and take a couple classes. This was the answer in many respects. 1. My husband has difficulty teaching at any basic level. 2. It''s important to feel confident in your skills and instructors offer objective feedback. 3. You get the hands-on that your not getting with your husband.

The list goes on...make lifelong friendships, gain the skills you need in case your husband can''t step in. ETC.

I am now US Sailing cert. for Basic Keelboat, Basic Cruising, and will go on to Bareboat Cruising in the spring. It''s been great fun.

Good Luck
 

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I have the opportunity to go cruising with a friend in the near future and although I''m not a sailor, I''m thrilled with the whole idea of it and have no problem leaving my current life to go on this adventure. I''ve known this man for a long time, but the relationship has changed from "just friends" to something more over the past 5 months. We both live alone and are very independent. I care for him very much, but worry that living so closely might be difficult for us. I really want to go and I''m sure he will go anyway even if I don''t. Has anyone been in a similar situation???
 

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Hello, I have been married for 34 years and we started to sail 12 years ago on Lake Erie out of Ohio. At that time we had two teenagares with us. Our first trip was to sail to Buffalo N.Y. When we first started everything had to be done his way. The kids and I stopped doing things on the boat. My husband got mad that he had to do it all, and he, the captain, mutinied. The kids and I sailed on to the next port with the captain down below. Maybe we didn''t trim sail just right or stay right on course but we go there. Since the kids have move out on there own, the captain and the admiral(me) have share the duties on the boat. I would not want to be out there if I didn''t know how to sail. He says that I still over trim the sails but we still get to where we want to go. Sandy
 

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Homelessone, I suggest you take as many overnighters and long weekenders together as you possibly can before you commit to cruising together on a long trip.

Do you spend nights with each other now? Is he not respectful of your space? Talking about your need for privacy, even while on the boat, is a priority ... otherwise you might end up throwing him overboard!

P.S. I envy you! A man with a boat. My dream!
 
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