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Old 20-08-2010, 03:06   #1
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Women and Fear

Hi everybody i have a difficult topic to discuss which is related to women going to sea and quite personal. My wife is a good sailor, even started 30 years ago with a Laser. We sailed ever since with several boats but mainly small ones up to 25 feet in the baltic Sea / Denmark. We used our 4 wd jeep and spent our honeymoon in the sahara desert in Algeria, went white water rafting etc etc. so we did some real adventours

Now i bought a wonderful safe 44 feet aluminium cutter a real offshore sailer and we spent 4 weeks in Sweden with good weather. Ok 3 nights quite rough at anchor with force 8. We only day sailed max 9 hours. My( i thought our) dream was to go for 2 years trip next year down to the Med and mayb caribean later.

Now my wife clearly expressed her serious concern to sail longer trips again....... weekend or 3 weeks summer in Denmark where we know each corner are ok BUT she can not stand the stress approaching any new island or harbour, watching the depthmeter and checking our position at the chart. She dont need nights at anchor waiting for a wind shift or being afraid about a windshift. She dont need sailing in unprotected waters allways imagine what might happen next.

I have to agree that sailing in new territories involves some stress and i also hate nights when i can not sleep but i think men can forget such situation easily and the next morning verything is fine whereas my wife thinking about such hours the next week. We have anchored more then 20 night and she loves a quite and calm nicht at anchor, there is no fear about water or sailing BUT always fear that we run agound, that the engine quits or whatsoever.

I think and she confimred that not being in control about the situation esp. the weather and waves and water depth etc is her biggest concern.

It is a little bit difficult now..

Any similar experinece or advice how to overcome. I dont want to skip my dream after 4 weeks sailing but ofcourse if i can not change it i have to and buy a condo or mobilhome or something.


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Old 20-08-2010, 03:42   #2
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Hi Carsten

I do not think it is a woman thing but an issue of self confidence with the new boat that is causing her stress.

Big jump from 25 to 44ft and perhaps she is also sensing your newness with the bigger boat and that will cause her additional stress.

My advice is take baby steps with her to maximize the relaxed beautiful anchorage part and set up the boat so you can navigate yourself, allowing her to relax and gain her confidence.

Best of luck

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Old 20-08-2010, 03:42   #3
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For whatever it's worth, I'm in the blue and my female skydiving instructor is on the right. I think you're asking a legitimate question about fear but honestly I was at a party last night and two guys I was talking to sound more scared than your wife even if you gave them sea time. The guy who manages the marina next door won't leave the harbor on anything smaller than 70 feet. The female thing has nothing to do with it.

All that being said, some people are scared of different things. I can jump out of planes and dive a wreck but get me up on top of a building and I get crazy vertigo and paralyze. If someone doesn't have a vested and sincere interest in conquering their own fear, they won't. There's not much you can do about it; if she needed more sea time that would be one thing.

And three days at force 8 is a long three days. 40 knots is pretty damn loud.
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Old 20-08-2010, 03:47   #4
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hey Carsten,

I cannot give you advice to sailing specifically. how ever have you reconsidered for your wife to do some type of re-fresher course or even a sailing license upgrade.

Having an outsider teaching her how deal with these situations takes the pressure of your marriage, and will give her re-affirmation that she can do it.

My girlfriend suddenly became scared/insecure of skiing even though she skied for 10 years, when a bad crash with 2 people happened right in-front of her.
She did not want to ski anymore the next 2 days... Despite me doing my best to re-assure her in the beginning, while she felt obliged not to disappoint me, she still could not do it (We went up the hill, and where ready to ski-off when she just could not go, so back to the hotel we went). When I suggested we hire a private skiing instructor for a day or 2, she was convinced to give skiing a go again. With in a few hours she was back full of confidence. Our holiday was saved! For a few hours it was nice to have some one else carry the burden to fix the tiny problem. which lets face it, took some pressure off the realtionship

Some times one needs re-assurance from a specialist or outsider to feel confident.
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Old 20-08-2010, 04:34   #5
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I thought that women were more risk-averse then men, but when I asked my wife about it and she says that what she dislikes most is unpredictability - the uncertainity of not knowing how things will turn out.

Maybe that is what is happened here with the OPs wife and the skiing lady. They have both seen something that has challenged their belief that they were in control and things were predictable.

I hope some of the ladies on here will contribute to this thread. A female viewpoint would be very useful.
Arthur Dent: "I wish I'd listened to what my mother told me when I was younger"
Ford Prefect: "Why? What did she say?"
Arthur: "I don't know - I didn't listen!!"
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Old 20-08-2010, 04:42   #6
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Thanks to all for such fast response:

Yes the night was not easy although i have 2 landlines and a anchors. Next time ofcourse i have to choose better places but sometime you can not aoid a bad anchorage. Yes next summer we will do more easy sailing, more time near land etc. I pushed maybe to much because i wanted to see what we can do with the boat.

Sailing course is a good idea because i am sure she can manage everything and only thinks too much ahead....

I also will do some singlehanded weekends to become more familiar to handel everything alone and maybe a nice plotter where one can easily where we are could be a good tool to help my wife.
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Old 20-08-2010, 04:53   #7
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Also consider the "fear" or "stress" may have nothing to do with sailing at all. It may have to do with changing life styles, leaving behind what she knows an is comfortable with. Leaving friends and family. It may be worrying about medical issues on the trip or even if the relationship will survive the confines of a boat. Who knows?

I would say it is likely that she does not know or be aware of what is driving her. So few of us really know ourselves, I know I don't.
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Old 20-08-2010, 04:55   #8
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This of course is a very personal issue. In general women are the nurturing personality who must protect themselves and their children and the men are the adventuresome hunters. Beyond that anthropological generalization, everyone is different.

Two things made a difference to my wife: a heavy and sound boat, an Island Packet, and a "home base'- a condo that she could call home and go back to if life as a liveaboard got too stressful.

Your MMV of course.

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Old 20-08-2010, 05:06   #9
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Hi, Carsten.

My wife has a similar fear of the "unknown"--she always likes to have everything planned out and under control if we're going somewhere unfamiliar. So when I broached the idea of living on our boat and cruising the eastern Caribbean (which had been my dream for quite a few years), she wasn't too enthused about it.

We talked about it on and off for a few days, and she came up with a suggestion--charter a boat in the Caribbean, identical to our own, for two weeks. I thought that was a great idea, and really appreciated her willingness to try to make it work. We found an Island Packet 380 in St. Thomas, USVI, and chartered it for two weeks in February. To make a long story short, we had a terrific time sailing around the islands, including a passage over to St. Croix (35 nm) and back. At the end of the two week, she didn't want to come home!

Six months later, we were cruising the islands in our own boat, and she was loving every minute of it.
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Old 20-08-2010, 05:24   #10
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Hi Hud, good advice i was just thinking about that yesterday evening. We have been 2 times on Antigua and 2 times Bonaire but in a hotel not boat so far......

House will be kept, i am planning to go down the european shore ( allways land in sight ) but actually the channel and the Med can be tough. All comments are true and it depends a little if somebody want to give a try step by step.
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Old 20-08-2010, 05:31   #11
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Consider shelling out for a marina night or two ( or three) keeps SWIMBO happy, nice meal ashore from time to time. Yes anchoring can be scary for her , mind you my wife just looks at me , and goes to sleep, Im the one sitting in the cockpit all night!!

Be careful in the med, The anchorages can be very exposed and if the weather turns its a right nasty place, every year it scares people who somehow form the view that its a placid place.

Dave( in the med)
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Old 20-08-2010, 05:39   #12
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Two words: "Jessica Watson" I wonder how many men could handle sailing nights or for that matter days in the roaring forties alone ? Fear is not a gender specific trait. People, both male and female have different tollerances to different situations. The world is full of modern woman pushing the boundaries in what were traditionally male exclusive territories.
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Old 20-08-2010, 05:41   #13
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Im a believer in the power of the mind and im sure with the right approach, she will over come this.

There are many land based ideas which are only acceptable to humans because thats how they have been conditioned, but to a nomad or traveler, seem hostile and totally mad.

Horses for courses.
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Old 20-08-2010, 06:13   #14
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All the advice here is quite good. However, the reality is that some people just aren't made to go to sea — and no matter how many baby steps you take or refresher courses or confidence-building activities, you may have to face the prospect that your wife may never be comfortable as a long-distance cruiser.

I've known a few people like that. We are all made differently.
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Old 20-08-2010, 06:14   #15
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Right a marina ist a must regulary especially to see more of the scenery and to leave to boat behind. Actually the reason to travel by boat is to see noew countries and not only sitting on the boat looking the the shore. I assume it is more mind based problem to do something in realiy and not sitting in a chair talking about it and here some time men are more pushy.

sure i also have fears and i hate to leave a anchorage at night because the weahterforecast was wrong. A new harbour with unknow grounds in front and some strong current also makes me feel vulnerable if i think about what to do in case the engine stops. But this will teach me to be prepared and have a plan b in mind.

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