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Old 05-09-2013, 09:20   #1
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Teaching Wife To Sail

I have a few observations to share after taking my wife out for her first sailing lesson on our P31.

1. Moving forward, I need to make more time for lessons for the wife.

We sail often with friends, and as a good host I naturally give the guests lots of time at the wheel and winches while the wife chats it up. We've had the boat for two seasons and yesterday was her first lesson.

2. Giving lessons to my other half would not be feasible if I had not developed a very high comfort level sailing the boat.

My stress level has to be very low to successfully navigate the husband-wife/student-teacher dynamic. If I am under stress, it has the potential to devolve into a donnybrook. This is our first cruising boat, and now after almost two seasons I know the boat and I know the area.

3. Sailing together as a team has the potential to really strengthen the relationship.

It has all the makings of a team building exercise, and we don't have to pay a marriage counselor $100/hour.

4. It certainly helps if you have a good sailing weather for that first lesson.

We had sunny skies, flat seas and 12-15 knots out of the west. What a gorgeous day and what great experience.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:23   #2
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

I've taught sailing, done deliveries and skippered charters, and hold a 100 ton master's license. When it came time to teach my wife sailing....

.. she went to J world for a week. Best $800 bucks I ever spent.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:36   #3
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Congratulations, Neo. You have officially taken the second step in learning to sail - you are trying to teach someone else!

Seriously, you never know what you know until you have to answer a question you have never thought of before. I have taught sailing classes for about eight years and my wife was my student in three different classes. Some people find it difficult to teach a relative. I've never had that problem.

If I can make a suggestion, when you go out for a "lesson," have a plan for what you want to accomplish. It doesn't need to be formal, but if you and your wife have a goal in mind, it will help keep things on track.
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Old 05-09-2013, 10:19   #4
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I've taught sailing, done deliveries and skippered charters, and hold a 100 ton master's license. When it came time to teach my wife sailing....

.. she went to J world for a week. Best $800 bucks I ever spent.
This.

Some husbands can teach wives, some can't. Many shouldn't.

I was a certified "Learn-to-Windsurf" instructor for a few years and helped many new windsurfers get started, but still I discovered that ... I wasn't a good instructor when my wife was the student.

My wife's confidence increased exponentially by taking CYA Basic Cruising on her own. She was with other beginners, under the supervision of an expert instructor using a proven curriculum.

Having completed the course, she learned alot, and she rightfully calls me on some stuff. She's more my equal on the boat, and enjoys sailing much more as a consequence.

In our area there's a group called Women on Water that meets regularly, and has their own sailing outings and events. My wife attends with one of her friends from time to time. This also increases her confidence and overall enjoyment.
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Old 05-09-2013, 10:33   #5
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neo View Post
I have a few observations to share after taking my wife out for her first sailing lesson on our P31.

1. Moving forward, I need to make more time for lessons for the wife.

We sail often with friends, and as a good host I naturally give the guests lots of time at the wheel and winches while the wife chats it up. We've had the boat for two seasons and yesterday was her first lesson.

2. Giving lessons to my other half would not be feasible if I had not developed a very high comfort level sailing the boat.

My stress level has to be very low to successfully navigate the husband-wife/student-teacher dynamic. If I am under stress, it has the potential to devolve into a donnybrook. This is our first cruising boat, and now after almost two seasons I know the boat and I know the area.

3. Sailing together as a team has the potential to really strengthen the relationship.

It has all the makings of a team building exercise, and we don't have to pay a marriage counselor $100/hour.

4. It certainly helps if you have a good sailing weather for that first lesson.

We had sunny skies, flat seas and 12-15 knots out of the west. What a gorgeous day and what great experience.
Neo,

From what you have written, you have an excellent attitude. What you are trying to do here is fraught with the "donnybrook peril." I was fortunate that I already had some sailing experience when I met Jim. So, as an experienced skipper, who had perhaps 10 yrs. on me, it was easy for me to pay attention and try to follow his suggestions as he brought me along. I had not done foredeck work before I met him. So, it worked okay for us, but it was not donnybrook free, by any means; and we were not yet married.

For years, I have routinely suggested to men that they invest in sail training for their wives that is separate from their own. IMO, that won't harm the marital relationship, and when she returns to you for "polishing," she has built the confidence in her skills that will allow her to accept alternate ways of doing things, or you may decide the ways she was shown are better. And it assures her of not having to deal with that tricky husband/wife dynamic that leads to the donnybrooks.

Especially if you have it in mind to go cruising at some point, you want your wife to be a practiced and skilled enough crew that you can usually sleep through your night-time off watch. This means that she will have to know the rules of the road, how to tack and gybe the boat by herself in a seaway [tacking's easier in flat water than lumpy], set and take down the pole by herself; and she'll need to have shown you judgment about when to ask for help, even thought it risks waking you. She'll also need to know about other vessel's lights, what they signify, and how she should handle situations. Basic pilotage. Plotting on paper charts (don't want whiteout on the chartplotter) ...and so on.

Are you happy to leave all this to an amateur? even though that amateur is you?

In any event, good on you for giving it a go, and I hope your good lady enjoyed it as much as you obviously did.

Ann
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Old 05-09-2013, 10:40   #6
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

Connie had never been on a boat of any kind, when she met me and helped me bild our first Colvin! All i can say, is learn how to smile, and forget how to yell !! worked for us! Still together after 40 + years
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:04   #7
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Connie had never been on a boat of any kind, when she met me and helped me bild our first Colvin! All i can say, is learn how to smile, and forget how to yell !! worked for us! Still together after 40 + years
Ah so, now I understand the secret to teaching my wife anything.. forget to yell.

I gave up years ago and feel the amount I spend for someone else to teach her is well spent. Now if they could only teach her MY WAY, everything would be fine.
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:17   #8
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I've taught sailing, done deliveries and skippered charters, and hold a 100 ton master's license. When it came time to teach my wife sailing....

.. she went to J world for a week. Best $800 bucks I ever spent.
I am the aforementioned wife in this post and I endorse this statement 100%. BUT, I'm glad it is working out so far for the OP. Some couples can do it, but for those who can't, paying for lessons is a fabulous idea.
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Old 05-09-2013, 14:04   #9
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
Neo,

For years, I have routinely suggested to men that they invest in sail training for their wives that is separate from their own.
Ann
I've dispensed that same advice on numerous occasions. Isn't it funny how often we don't take our own advice.

She definitely enjoyed the experience as much as I did. Probably because she is tougher and braver than me.
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Old 05-09-2013, 14:14   #10
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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I am the aforementioned wife in this post and I endorse this statement 100%. BUT, I'm glad it is working out so far for the OP. Some couples can do it, but for those who can't, paying for lessons is a fabulous idea.
I think she would definitely benefit from taking lessons from someone else. Otherwise it may create a dynamic where I am always right

If she gains a knowledge base from a source other than me, she'll have more ownership.

Although, do I want to give up that kind of control.
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Old 05-09-2013, 15:08   #11
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Originally Posted by Neo View Post
I think she would definitely benefit from taking lessons from someone else. Otherwise it may create a dynamic where I am always right

If she gains a knowledge base from a source other than me, she'll have more ownership.

Although, do I want to give up that kind of control.
Interesting question because in the end there can be only one captain...

My wife lacks the confidence that comes from experience that comes from our training. She'll get it.
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Old 05-09-2013, 16:09   #12
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Connie had never been on a boat of any kind, when she met me and helped me bild our first Colvin! All i can say, is learn how to smile, and forget how to yell !! worked for us! Still together after 40 + years

That's really good advice!

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Old 05-09-2013, 16:24   #13
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

So far I've found extreme patience, benign weather, keeping my mouth shut and lessons to be highly desirable.

But nothing, repeat nothing, has been as effective as bribery.
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Old 05-09-2013, 16:58   #14
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
I've taught sailing, done deliveries and skippered charters, and hold a 100 ton master's license. When it came time to teach my wife sailing....

.. she went to J world for a week. Best $800 bucks I ever spent.
+1 I sent my wife to Annapolis Sailing School when she asked me to teach her.
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Old 05-09-2013, 17:24   #15
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Re: Teaching Wife To Sail

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Interesting question because in the end there can be only one captain...
I've disagreed with this sentiment repeatedly on other threads. I understand why a naval frigate needs a captain, but not why a recreational sailboat co-owned by two competent sailors who happen to be married to each other need a relationship where one is dominant and the other subordinate.

But what if.....?

When "what if" happens, the person at the helm deals with it, sometimes requesting the assistance of the other partner. If I'm down below and we're bearing down on an obstruction, the last thing I want my partner to do is put the boat on autopilot and come down to request orders. She knows how to turn the boat, reef the sails, heave to, sound the horn, call mayday, et cetera.
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