Hey Mars? Venus Calling!

At Sea — June 2003
By Capt. Bill Pike

Hey Mars? Venus Calling!
The following exegesis is going to get me into a whole pile of trouble, but what the heck!

Joseph Daniel Fiedler

 More of this Feature

• Part 1: Mars & Venus
• Part 2: Mars & Venus continued

 Related Resources
• At Sea Index

Maybe it's because--to my total surprise--I'm getting a little long in the tooth. Or maybe it's because spending half a century on the water virtually guarantees a guy's gonna have at least something worth contributing to the sum of all seafaring knowledge and expertise. But one way or the other, with increasing frequency these days, I find myself teaching folks how to tie knots and do other useful, marine-related odds and ends.

It's fun mostly. There's something both enjoyable and inspirational about passing knowledge along to other people and seeing how much they appreciate it. And trust me, they do appreciate it. The smile that materializes after they've successfully tied their first bowline is exactly the same whether it appears on the rough, tough visage of an old, retired Air Force pilot or the open, expectant face of a little eight-year-old girl.

But every now and again, something happens in one of my little sessions that's not so dang groovy, something indicative of a marine scene that's still a little goofed up--occasionally a whole helluva lot goofed up. Take, for example, a few weeks ago, when I was showing a group of retired folks gathered at a local marina how to properly coil and throw a mooring line from the foredeck of a boat. The class was mostly comprised of women, many with substantial time afloat. While it was plain that all of them were enjoying either developing new skills or honing existing ones they believed would improve their waterborne lot in life, it was also plain they all had a common beef--their husbands.

Now, get ready for this, ladies! I'm going to say something here that may tick you off, but it's absolutely true, and if you don't think so, drop me a line and tell me about it. The vast majority of people who actually operate recreational powerboats these days are men! Oh I'll admit, there are women out there who operate boats--a woman-friend of mine is a delivery skipper and expert boat handler, as a matter of fact. Another manages a large and prosperous marina, and she's an expert boat handler, too. But by and large, in this supposedly liberated era, way more women are standing on the foredeck holding a mooring line during a docking maneuver than are at the controls on the flying bridge. And it's on the foredeck that the common beef I just mentioned arises. What is it?

Men yell at their wives! In fact, they yell with such frequency during docking and other close-quarters maneuvering situations that I've simply come to expect complaints on this score from just about every long-suffering female significant other who serves, or who's ever served, as a deckhand. Moreover, although I hate to admit it, I was once guilty of this sort of tawdry behavior myself. An incident in a harbor town on Long Island Sound many years ago engendered such acrimony between my wife on the foredeck and me on the bridge that it still figures as one of the absolute rock-bottom low points of our entire marriage.

Next page > Part 2: Yours truly made an absolute fool of himself and his wife. > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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