Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Women - don't be a whimp, grab the tiller.

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.


Sarah said...

Well said Neil.

I have considered getting a T-shirt printed. On the front it will say 'I also steer' and on the back it will say 'I also do locks'. I reckon that way the appropriate bit is most likely to be on display at any given time.

I used to be a reluctant steerer myself; now I love it so much I fear I have a tendency to hog it and not let poor Jim have his turn.

Adam said...

Have a read of yesterday's (06/06) blog post by Lazy Days. I think they'd agree with you!

Amy said...

Well said indeed. When we're cruising we both enjoy taking turns. We also get quite competitive about scrapes and touches of the side going into locks! James does more single handing than me, but that is about to change, now I've proved to myself that I can do it.

NB Lucky Duck

Anonymous said...

Yay - here's to the helmswomen...

I find that it helps if I consider manly comments in the same way as buzzing mosquitos - faintly annoying, safely ignored, may need swatting oocasionally :-)

Sue, nb Indigo Dream

Simon said...

ha - well, when boating together I'm aware of how it looks when it's my turn on the tiller - I'd much rather be seen doing the lock work, which is just silly, we know we share the work.

I guess it's just a bit of a standard pattern we see repeated az lot.

(I may have said at the time, but I was once called 'formidable' as a complement... well, they said it was)

Anonymous said...

Nah, the first dictionary definition was definitely the right one. NOW GERROF MY BOAT BEFORE I SHOVE YOU IN THE CUT!
Carrie x

Vallypee said...

Good points, Neil, although it's a bit like the car and the remote control on the TV - it's sometimes hard to get one's man to relinquish control of what he sees as his domain....speaking generally, of course. Clearly there are many exceptions :)

Anonymous said...

p.s Kath, I remember that the word 'formidable' in French, only ever means 'wonderful', so that's very apt :-)

Simon said...

ha - I should elaborate on when I was called formidable - I asked 'english or french meaning' and they replied 'both'. ;-)

Heather Rowsell said...

Ahem, there's a lowly maiden here called Heth who has the confidence to drive a lowly widebeam about without any qualms