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Help! I married a boat builder

by Sandra Leinweber  duckworks@hilconet.com

I confess. I gave lip service to the notion of cruising for years. It was easy because it was, up to a point, all talk and no boat. Then about two years ago, Chuck built the Tennessee, and it was time to put my actual body in the cockpit and live aboard for admittedly short periods of time. Turned out I was a pushover. After about an hour chugging down the intracoastal, I was sold. Not that chuck did not need a bit of training; a few notions altered.   Lately I have seen several articles by men lamenting the fact that their wives are not interested in their boats. Here are a few ideas that might help.

1. When you take your wife out, do not expect her to learn boat words--especially if she shows any initial resistance.  Example: you say, "grab that halyard, honey," and she say, "you mean this rope?" do not under any circumstances try to explain why one rope is called a halyard and another a sheet.   Just say, "yes, that one," or "no, that one over there."   Better yet, color code your ropes so you can say, "grab that red one," or "pull on that blue one."

2. Let your wife steer. If she does not steer as tightly as you might have, let it go. If she runs aground, count to ten, remind yourself it is not the end of the world, then tell her about the time you did exactly the same thing. She will tire of steering more quickly than you can imagine and let you have the wheel or tiller back.

3. If she gets seasick, be sympathetic, and get her some motion sickness tablets or whatever you think would be best right away. Seasickness is horrible, and mine almost ruined our very first cruise.  I was fine the first day but miserable the second, and I was all set to hike to the bus station in Port Isabel, Texas and take the bus home. Then we met a fellow who told me he took motion sickness medication - just one - when he first woke up on a cruising day.  I tried it and have been seasick - free ever since.

4. Try to stay someplace with showers at least every other night.  Barring that, have some sort of fresh water rinse off system on your boat, especially if you are cruising in salt water. On our next boat we plan to rig some sort of shower system in the front anchor well.

5. Windshields are good. Our boat does not have one. Chuck seems to like having his hair and his clothing plastered to his skin by salt spray. I hate that part.  That must be where the expression "old salt" comes from.

6. Take her someplace isolated. We found a little cove way off the beaten track where few people came during the day and no one else stayed at night. This particular spot had both lagoon and beach access--an almost deserted beach. It was romantic and relaxing. Which brings me to point 7.

7. Take your time. Chuck wanted to have a timetable, and of course we did have one of sorts because we only had so many days we could take off. I was able to convince him that we did not have to get to every place on the list. We took a number of interesting unplanned side trips that were not on our original list.  Besides, we can visit the ones we missed next time.

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8. Which lead to this:  Wives like the idea that they are going to get to see stuff that they cannot drive to.  If she sees something on shore that she would like to examine more closely, get her there if at all possible.  I like to look for fossils, and when I see a likely spot we stop, poke around, have a snack, and then continue our journey.

9. Do not become overly obsessed with your GPS. If she is interested, fine. I could read our charts and see where they connected with the channel markers. I knew we were not going to get lost, and I was not impressed with 15 minute GPS updates. Actually, getting a bit lost seems much more romantic. I did find the depth and fish finder interesting once I got the seasickness under control.

10. If possible, arrange for  pods (?) of porpoises (porpi?).  They should seem to appear out of nowhere.  Exotic birds are an excellent second best.  We have Black Skimmers and Roseate Spoonbills and these cool brown jobbies with bills about 8 inches long. And there are pelicans, both white and brown.

11. Do not let her argue that she will not be able to sleep on board. I tried that one and ended up sleeping like a baby, despite the strange noises and rocking boat. Or maybe because of. No mosquitoes, please.

12. Finally, have someplace on the boat for starwatching at night. I like to lay on the cabin roof and watch for meteorites.

I have left out the obvious stuff like keeping mealtimes simple and taking full advantage of food encountered along the way. Keep a nice balance between roughing it and civilization. I am pretty well hooked on cruising. Our trips have all been a week or less so far, but the idea of longer trips no longer intimidates me. We are planning a smaller boat that will be easier to launch and unlaunch. Will I ever learn boat words? Not too likely; it is way too much fun to argue about them.

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