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Louise 30-08-2005 12:07

My husband is handy but I'm not!
Hi all,

My husband and I are both 31 and we are going to quit our jobs next year and cruise for a couple of years. I have been reading everything I can about cruising and am about to take some sailing lessons at a local yacht club.

My problem is, I'm not very good at fixing things and I'm quite anxious to be confident enough to handle the yacht single-handedly in the event that he becomes incapacitated. Are there generally courses on fixing boat equipment, or is this something I should just learn whilst sailing?

I am so looking forward to getting out there but don't want to rely on him for everything.

Are there any other women cruisers out there who have been in a similar situation?


boredinthecity 30-08-2005 14:44

Hi Louise.
Welcome on board

My advice is to make sure that he dosent take enough grog with him so he can become incapacitated.;)

Cruise throught the posts, pick up ideas, refrences, go to TAFE and learn desiel Mech and ever sailor will be trying to steal you away from you husband:D

good luck with your plans


BC Mike 30-08-2005 15:09

Fixing stuff
The way to learn how to fix stuff, is to not have enough money to pay someone else to fix it, and have a burning desire to own mechanical stuff. I would wait until a potential problem shows up and then learn how to deal with it at the time. You can not learn everything in advance. I am not going to learn how to fix the lift pump in my tractor until it causes a problem. Having said that there are some good books on boat electrics and mechanical stuff. I would also get the Nature of Boats by David Gerr.

Talbot 30-08-2005 19:07

good idea to do the diesel engine maintenance course.

get some areas of expertise which are better than your partners, such as sailmaking, first aid, navigation and voyage planning, and even more important (cause most of us males are hopeless at it), -provision planning. A long voyage with poor food planning is probably the last voyage!
If you have a water maker - these need considerable understanding and maintenance otherwise they give up and you are driving around looking for rain clouds!

Best for both of you to understand the miriad of tasks required onboard, and to work out which one of you becomes the expert for that task, and which tasks need knowledge by both of you.

Strygaldwir 31-08-2005 02:59

The way my wife and I manage is by first of all understanding that there are things that she is better at than I am and I am better at things than she is. We both have a decent understanding of how everything works on the boat, but our depth varies for different things. She knows the general principle of a diesel, understands the importance of fuel, basic trouble shooting. I can rebuild them if it came to it. Now, that may be a handy thing to know, but it is in NO way essential for safe cruising. I know what gauge all the wires are, and why. She knows where all the fuses, junctions and circuit breakers are for all the items. She knows why she used v92 vs v69 threads for the bimini, I know they will probably not rip and how to put a very course stitch in it if it should. I think I am a better provisioner, she's a better cook.... etc. So I think the major point is firstly complement one another skills, you go further, smoother.

Once you have decided what you'd like to learn, get a book and study that. I find Nigel Calders books to be excellent references for so many things on a cruising boat. Once you have an understanding of the principles of a thing, get your hands dirty!:D
Take it apart, maintan it, put it back together and back. Nothing like hands on to reinforce a skill. Offer to help someone else on a job they are doing in an area you are interested. I'd never say, oh, she does that, I am not concerned with how it works. Help, ask questions, work together. You'll learn, and if you don't kill each other, you'll have a blast.

Cheers, see you out there.


BC Mike 31-08-2005 05:17

Fixing stuff
Louise I have thought a bit about my first reply and would like to add to it. The following is my opinion only.
If I was looking for a sailing companion ( and I am ) I would not neccessarily want someone who could do the things that I know how to do. What I think I would like is someone who can steer, who can navigate as a back up to me, who can lower the sails and start and run the engine, who can help rescue me if I fall overboard, who will not panic when the going gets rough, who might actually enjoy sailing when the weather is really crappy. And who can read the instructions for stuff, because real men do not read the instructions. Help with the bottom painting even if it is only a sandwhich and beer would be nice, and sometimes I need help holding a spanner ( wrench ) on the other side of something. From there enthusiasm for most things sailing is about all that is required.

Louise 31-08-2005 08:26

Thanks guys
Thanks HEAPS for your posts Paul, Michael, Talbot and Keith!!

You have all given me some great advice and I feel like I have some direction now.

Sounds dumb, but I actually fixed our coffee machine at work today myself instead of asking someone else to do it. Baby steps!:D


Greg B 31-08-2005 12:56

I can't decide which is more important, coffee or bloody mary's. Anyway, glad you got the coffee maker figured out. Now if you don't mind, could you fix a bloody mary? ;)


Alan Wheeler 31-08-2005 19:41

Hi Louise, I have been following this, but decided to jump in now. Michael is spot on with his advice. But if I could take it a little further. I am in exactly the same position as you two. My wife knows very little, but is learning. And that is important point No.1. She is willing to learn and show's interest.
No.2- I am setting the boat up in such away, that if something happens to me, she can get the thing to safety. Firstly, don't think about getting "home". Just think of getting it "somewhere". The task has imediatly gotten simpler. So an important aspect for you, is to show interest in the navagation aspect. You don't have to know how just yet, the most important is to know where. You just have to know where you are. And then you have to know how to report that in the event of a Mayday or PanPan call. Oh and knowing how to turn the radio on and operate it as well. Once again, nothing tooo hard, the important point is to remain calm and clear. There is nothing harder for a rescue team to understand than that of someone panicing. I heard such an event in a storm I was in and it was so hard to communicate. But that is a side track for now.
No.3- You don't have to get the boat "somewhere" efficiently. You just have to be able to make it go. So you don't need to learn imediately, how to sail properly. You just have to know how to get a sail up and sheet it in, how to start the engine and get it in gear, what RPM to set, and how to monitor the fuel level and monitor the temp and oil pressure.
The biggest fear you will ever encounter is seasickness. If it is bad, it totally incompassitates (spell?) you. It is the biggest danger you most likely will ever encounter. And in the time of stress and panic, as in your Hubby is seriousely down for some reason, it can make the going harder.
And lastly as Michael pointed out, being able to bring the boat to a halt and turn about, should your hubby go for an untimely dip. In ruff sea, nand it doesn't take much of a ruff sea, a person dispears from view very quickly and easily. So if you see him go in, the first response is a calm and clear head. Get the safety gear over the side ASAP. Then worry about getting the boat stopped and turned. I suggest you practice this with your husband. He needs to know how to do all the above just as much. And practice all aspects of safety drill. It's more important than knowing how to sail. Anyone can sail aboat in some way. The real test of sailing, is when it all turns to custard.

Steve Kidson 01-09-2005 06:09

Whether male or female, we were all new to sailing at some stage, and had little or no knowledge. The way to learn is to get out and do it. As the others have said, pull it apart, put it back together, read all you can, watch, look and ask questions. Experience only comes in time and after doing it.

Fair winds



Louise 08-09-2005 05:03

Thanks again
Thank you Alan, your comments re: safety. I can't think of anything more important than knowing how to rescue someone, staying calm, sailing a boat from a place of danger to a place of safety and being able to radio for help.

Thanks also Steve for your encouragement.


ps bloody mary is my fave drink Greg - more tobasco the better!

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