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Old 11-07-2011, 22:10   #1
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Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

I want some ladies perspectives. I am really sad that I have been planning to sail with my partner on our lovely boat and it's not turning out like I thought. When we first bought it, we had some "pleasant" sails and I was getting into it. Then it was on the hard for a while and now that we have it back in the water, every time we go out, I get terrified. I loved it at first but now I am experiencing fear and intense discomfort. I am afraid to say I think I might hate this. I know older people cruise, handicapped people cruise, kids and dogs go too so HOW art they doing it in comfort and enjoyment? it's a great boat and the skipper is totally confident, capable and experienced and even though I don't know much, I was really keen on learning but I can't get past the stress and anxiety. The other day we were out and it was choppy and windy (I thought) and the guys are just fine and chatting away as casual as if they were sitting at the breakfast table, while I felt like I was on a roller coaster of near death. Please tell me how other "little old ladies" and regular people too, do this? Do you just have to be a macho thrill seeker?

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Old 11-07-2011, 22:35   #2
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Re: Do you have to be "macho" to get into this?

You need to be gliding around in a tropical paradise. Not bashing around in "chop and wind" with the guys in rough and tumble California. Ok....I'm not a lady. But no matter what the sex label you need to be comfortable. Skip what you don't like. Do what you like.

On the other hand, you should realize that boats are actually quite safe. The technology of staying alive on a boat...alive not necessarily comfortable...has been in development for thousands of just about perfected.

That said...there are indeed many tough "little old ladies."

I'd rthink there is an environment that you'd be comfortable in. One that you could build confidence in. I'd guess it's in the single digit latitudes...maybe the teens.

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Old 11-07-2011, 23:35   #3
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Patience Sky... One of the ways to be more comfortable is to get a second hull. Living aboard is definitely much more comfortable on a cat. Check out my wife's blog of our round the world trip... Sailing Jeannius She was very, very nervous when we started out.
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Old 11-07-2011, 23:45   #4
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

My admiral had the same problem. Apparently it is my fault!

Anyway, get some lessons without the other half it will be the best investment you could possibly make. it will be fine.

"I get knocked down but I get up again" eventually.
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Old 12-07-2011, 00:32   #5
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Sorry, I'm not a lady. But I've introduced a fair number of ladies to sailing, so I have some experience.

It's definitely not required to be a tough macho. Because it is not inherently dangerous or frightening. At sea, the air and water are in constant motion, and if you can relax and keep an open mind, you will get used to it, and you will get used to yourself being in constant motion. It will eventually become a pleasant sensation to feel the boat moving to the waves, heeling over in the wind, picking up speed. In fact, for most of us, it eventually becomes such a pleasant sensation that we can never be entirely happy on land again. And we all secretly crave slightly rough weather -- not so rough as to be frightening (most of us, anyway), but rough enough to get some good motion going, with enough wind to do some hard sailing.

It helps to build up to it gradually -- so your husband should be careful to take you out in gentle conditions at first, gradually building up to more challenging conditions.

And like someone said -- some lessons will help enormously. Once you start to understand the principles and participate in sailing the boat, you will have an entirely different perspective from just being a passenger.
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:44   #6
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Sorry I can't give you a female perspective but I can you you a non gender perspective.

The short answer is No, you don't have to be 'Macho'.

Most stress and anxiety stems from 'fear'. Fear can be occur from our knowledge of certain conditions or our lack of knowledge, i.e. fear of the unknown.

For most of us, the fear of the unknown causes the most stress and is most likely what is causing your "fear and intense discomfort".

If you can find a way of gaining more knowledge / experience (i.e. less of the 'unknown') in a safe and controlled way, you may find yourself enjoying sailing much more - even when it is windy and choppy.

Put another way, fear of known conditions and outcomes is a good thing, it keeps us safe; while fear of the unknown often limits us and prevents otherwise worthwhile experiences being enjoyed.

Hope you enjoy whatever path you take.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangereous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:13   #7
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Talk with your partner, and maybe just the two of you should be sailing so you can go out on calmer days, can sail with less sail up, can find an easy beam reach even if that's not where you want to go. The red flag to me was when you said the "guys were chatting it up." Is he being too macho to impress the guys? It always takes me several sails to get my sealegs back and it will you too.
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:28   #8
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Many of the schools on this side of the pond run special ladies courses for obvious reasons and they seem very popular.

A very old and wise lady diving instructor once said to me the way to teach is like eating a biscuit. Take it in little bites one step at a time.

Summer is here, check the weather and go enjoy some pleasant day sails and nights on board, lots of little trips finishing each day somewhere nice for the evening.

Do I sometimes get worried going across the English Channel, oh yes and we have turned back befoe now when the weather started to look iffy.

Moody 31 - April Lass
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:12   #9
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Originally Posted by Jeannius View Post
Patience Sky... One of the ways to be more comfortable is to get a second hull.
Here we go........

No, you don't but what you do need is confidence in 3 important things, the boat, your sailing partner and your own abilities.

I'd recommend that you find 'home port' and just do small local trips in fair weather until you're more confident. Also, and i'm assuming here, but alot of people i've met who have confidence problems don't actually do much of the actual sailing themselves. If you're more 'hands on' then you'll get a better understanding of the boat and your own abilities and the confidence will build.
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Old 12-07-2011, 05:34   #10
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

I am 67 now, and we have had our boat since 2001. I agree with Hannah, that it could be better with just the two of you. You know your partner is competent, so try to channel your energy into taking on some boat tasks to build your confidence. You could get the weather, write it down and make that your responsibility. Help with the navigation, manage the lines on your boat, and learn some boat systems out of your comfort zone.

If you are busy, and you know you are safe with a competent partner, you will forget about being afraid.

There is no yelling on our boat. Unless the wind is blowing and there's lots of noise. That's a big plus.

I have been damn scared at times, and at one time I crossed my arms and hissed at George "I hate this!" He said he thought my head was going to spin around like the kid in the Exorcist. But we now know what our tolerances are, and we compromise on the conditions we are willing to go out in.

Last cruise we went out in 20+ knots, made a two day trip in one day, skirted through a tricky area, and were anchored with a cocktail at four in the afternoon - and it was my idea. I got a gold star for that. But I knew it was manageable, it was just a little more in the way of conditions than I usually want to undertake.

George loves it boisterious - but he accepts a little less and I accept a little more, and it works out to be a happy ship.

Good luck, and enjoy your adventure.

Sailing Catamaran Sunspot Baby
"Never a ship sails out of a bay
but carries my heart as a stowaway."
-Roselle Mercier Montgomery"
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Old 12-07-2011, 06:01   #11
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Originally Posted by Patience Sky View Post
I was really keen on learning but I can't get past the stress and anxiety.
What a great question.

I wonder why this is so.

Often time men like the feeling of speed, crashing into waves, wind iin their hair. Newer women may think its too much.

Perhaps get off for a few weeks.

Show the skipper that you are not comfotable with it.

This might indicate to your partner to start taking you seriously as it appears he is only sailing for his mates. At least untill you are enjoying it again.

As there is no way a cruising life will work if one partner is terrified I think you better keep your options open and be prepared to look for a diferent partner and different life.

The other pro-active things you can do is to go and sail, without your partner, on other boats, local racing, or courses. That will give you more confidence, or tell if the life is for you.

All the best.

Notes on a Circumnavigation.

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Old 12-07-2011, 10:09   #12
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

I'm not a lady, but I sail with one. She used to be really nervous with any heel angle over 15 degrees. A few years later, she got upset when we caught a bad gust and hit about 60 degrees (with her on the low side, getting ready for a tack), but only because her favourite mug went overboard.

Just getting out there and experiencing a lot of sailing helped a lot. However, I think the biggest thing was actually crewing on a large racing boat. Half the crew were women, and everybody had a lot of experience. She trusted them and there was a good vibe on the boat.

When it was just us, she had only my word that the boat was just fine, we were under control, and if we got knocked down hard, the lead on the keel would always pop us back up, we just had to hold on and release sheets.

When she was on the other boat, she could see that everybody was pretty relaxed even at large heel angles (the skipper always reefed pretty late, sometimes for good reasons). She trusted these people and their sense of relaxation rubbed off on her. Then we had a few large broaches at high speeds. All she had to do was hold on while others reacted, and she could see that we were way, way heeled over, but the boat always came back up. By repeated exposure in safe circumstances with people she trusted, she gained total confidence.

Hope that helps. You may not be interested in finding a race boat (I bet there are plenty near you, maybe even some with lots of female crew or an all female crew), but if you can duplicate the experience of gradually pushing the limits with people who you trust absolutely, you will certainly feel better. It's not dangerous at all, it just sort of seems like it should be

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Old 12-07-2011, 10:15   #13
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

patience sky--i AM a lady...... lol.... ad i do it-- is a bit difficult to cook in a chop--or a big sea-- then is what finger foods and snacks are for. have honey do make a strap to help you not fly away from stove if he wants real food on a passage. and if he still wants real food on a passage, he needs to get you out of kali. kali suxxxx for cruising. is why i am in mazatlan now.
racing is not preparation for cruising. is an entirely different mindset. cruising is not always comfort-- but that is why gods made finger foods and other such non cooked eats. if going out with honey do is a pita, come here and sail with me for a few days and we will cure the stress involved and help you to become more comfy on board. choppy water is close to shore-- see if honey do will take you out into the sea far enough to avoid the chop which is a phenomenon here on west coast close to shore. drag a trolling line and see if ye can catch a fishie--makes it all more fun and makes for a deelishuss dinner.....
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:31   #14
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

I think an important question is: What was different between when you enjoyed it and when you were stressed and didn't enjoy it?

I'd also suggest discussing your concerns with your partner if you haven't already. My wife and I are just in our chartering phase, but hope to cruise one day. While she and I are both very comfortable on the water, she is not as comfortable handling the boat. Being aware of this, I don't have her take over in situations where she would be very uncomfortable, but I do have her take over in cases where she may be on the edge of her comfort zone. I try to make it as easy as I can but also allow her to increase her skill.

So just take it slow and go at a pace you are comfortable with.
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Old 12-07-2011, 10:44   #15
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Re: Do You Have to Be 'Macho' to Get into this ?

Don't feel bad... and it's nothing to do with being macho. My partner is struggling with being confident and happy aboard. I am the one who loves the wet and the wild...

I have to really work at being understanding of his discomfort.

I think you just need to really let your husband know that you need help getting confident. Try asking him to show you what is going on with the boat and why he is making the decisions he is making about how to sail your boat. What you understand and what is familiar is less alarming.

And give yourself time, I am noticing that our patience is finally paying off.. He is getting less cautious and less fearful and more willing to stretch himself!

I bet you will be too!


ain't what ya do, it's the way that ya do it...
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