As you may deduce from the title, this post will probably get me into trouble because I am about to criticise the behaviour of a lot of women who go boating. I'm already in trouble on that score since last week I referred to Carrie (of whom we are all very fond) as a virago. Although I intended it as a compliment, Carrie wasn't at all sure that it was,and having now consulted the dictionary I can see why, for it says a virago is "a domineering, violent or bad tempered woman". Whoops! However I see that an alternative definition is "a strong courageous woman" and that's what I meant.
On to the main point. On our travels up and down the waterways we meet a lot of couples boating, and there seems to be a significant proportion of women (probably even a majority), who never drive the boat and have to do all the physical work at the locks while their husband/ partner stands at the tiller. Kath, (who is not exactly a shrinking violet and has been referred to oft times as "formidable"), usually takes these poor women to task with some harsh words. The conversation is usually something like this:
Kath: "Why are you doing all the heavy work while he stands at the tiller drinking his tea?"
Woman "Oh I tried driving once and he kept saying I was doing it wrong, so I don't have the confidence. Anyway he doesn't trust me with his beloved machinery."
I don't know who is more to blame, the woman for putting up with it or the man for being a bully. What we need is more viragos and less men who sap their partner's confidence. I fail to see what either of them gain from the arrangement.
There are of course numerous exceptions to the rule, for example, women like Carrie and Bones who boat single handed and Sarah who manhandles the mighty Chertsey, the boaty equivalent of a twenty ton truck.
Kath and I share the lock work and the steering by swapping duties every three locks and we enjoy it that way. Neither of us wants the one role all day. I like working locks and I like driving into them, and I like a rest after every three locks on a long day. And so does she. Mind you it does get very competitive. Either of us committing a glancing touch of a lock gate on the way in gets a look of disdain from the other. We both know that we are better than the other at the tiller.