Sea — June 2003
By Capt. Bill Pike
Hey Mars? Venus Calling!
|Part 2: Yours truly made an absolute fool of himself and his wife.|
Now, get ready for this, gentlemen! 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. Men yell at their wives because they (men) are afraid of goofing up and looking bad! Consider the circumstances that precipitated my episode on Long Island Sound. Things started going downhill as soon as I raised my voice to be heard above an oncoming wind. In my mind I was simply trying to clarify the purpose of the springline my wife was preparing to deploy from the foredeck, mostly because I was inordinately scared of messing up and looking bad at the fuel dock. What my wife heard, however, was something altogether different: a horse's patoot standing hierarchically aloft, yelling at her in unintelligible, strident tones. As events devolved into a wholesale domestic disturbance afloat, the very thing that I had so dreaded transpired, albeit in altered but karmic fashion: Yours truly made an absolute fool of himself and his wife.
I've learned a few things since then. I've added three precepts to my day-to-day docking repertoire that all but guarantee continued peace, harmony, and civility onboard:
First, communicate. If your wife's kind enough to handle lines on deck during a docking, have a little meeting on the bridge first, well before she goes forward, and explain what the heck needs to happen and why. Don't wait until you've got to yell your directions all the way to the bow or, heaven forbid, use a loudhailer to explain the finer points of seamanship not only to your poor wife but to everybody else in the world.
Second, relax. Commercial skippers typically study boat handling in classrooms for hours, then they spend more hours--often quite humbling ones--practicing on school vessels or simulators with instructors. Recreational skippers, by contrast, are often constrained to learning boat handling without much help. Why are most of the males of this latter group so terrified of making mistakes and looking bad? After all, everybody eventually does both--especially while struggling to learn the basics.
Finally, delegate. Another bit of commentary I regularly encounter while teaching aspects of seamanship to recreational boaters, especially women, is that, believe it or not, their husbands do not en-courage them to learn how to operate the boats they own, whether offshore or dockside. How such patriarchal vessels make it safely back to port when something happens to the skipper is beyond me. I suspect some don't, based on stories I've heard. Turn the helm over to your mate occasionally. You'll not only make your experiences on the water more amiable, democratic, and fun, but you'll also make them safer.
And whether we're talking knots, springlines, or boat-handling technique, that's what the marine scene's all about, right?
This article originally appeared in the May 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.