It’s a common scenario, the young sailor takes his new girlfriend out in a gale and she’s scarred for life. The seasoned seamen brings a woman aboard his boat with no standing headroom, and merely a bucket for a toilet.
Not all woman are nautical, and some need coaxing and comfort to ease into life on board.
My first time sailing was as a crew member for the delivery of a 43-foot charter catamaran from Tonga to New Zealand. While I knew nothing of boats at the time, and it’s plush, spacious interior was fun for a few weeks at anchor and ten days crossing the ditch, I knew right away it wasn’t really my style of boat. It was those three weeks anchored in Vava’u harbor, however, that I got my first taste of the sailing lifestyle and met cruisers from around the world.
It was smack dab in the middle of cyclone season and my naivety had me enjoying our waiting period in the small island group, not biting my nails in anticipation for a weather window. The good weather eventually came and off we went, never encountering storm-like conditions and the giant waves and winds I now more knowingly fear and respect. I can’t help but wonder though–had we hit nasty weather or had something else gone wrong on my first ever sailing trip, would I too have been turned off from sailing forever?
I was lucky. I had a magical first time experienced and eventually eased into life on board a sailboat.
My favorite uncle grew up on boats and owned a few small sailing vessels in his formative years. As he enters into the next stage of life it’s his dream to be a retired live aboard on a Grand Banks in his native waters of the Long Island sound. In the early days of his marriage to my aunt he hadn’t quite mastered the art of coaxing and comfort and her first night on the boat would be her last. This is his story…
“I Spent my twenty’s getting on board Friday night, taking a cold shower Monday morning and going right to work, (for one summer with an Akita on board). Other than one summer where I had a housemate (she left the Akita) who was totally into the boat and “got it,” I kind of always dug being out for the weekend alone, as opposed to hearing one of the uninitiated piping up with, “what are we going to do now?” ( Um, we’re going to ferry your ass back to the dock, before your ignorance takes the shine off a perfect day)
Mia (my wife) loved my Catalina 22 and we had a lot of great days and nights on it. We had a slip 5 minutes from the house back then. In her defense, the first and last night she stayed on the boat over night with me was a comedy of errors.
It was this hot humid night in Port Jeff Harbor. I had yet to pick up a new Magna Kettle (grill) so I stupidly made this horrible, indigestible pasta and sauce deal on the alcohol stove. We had drinks, enjoyed the night, and I happily passed out in the v-berth. Well, a few hours later, the rain coming through the hatch woke me up.
As I took stock of the situation through the haze of Dewars and fog, I heard quiet sobbing. With a quick flop of the arm I determined that the crew was not in her berth. I headed for the cockpit, to see what was the matter.
It was hot, humid, and dinner refused to go quietly in to the night. The Catalina lacked a proper bulkhead between the engine room and the main salon, rather a snap on cushion in the aft dinette seat was all that was between you and 10 gallons of mixed gas and its accompanying fumes. This was no big deal on a breezy evening, but on one of those dead hot humid nights it could get anyone feeling a bit claustrophobic.
She never minded if I went out for a weekend overnighter, and we had many pleasant evenings in Stony Brook Harbor, but she’d never sleep on that boat again.”