It's time to discuss the elephant in the room:
Boating is a pretty damn sexist pastime.
Okay, maybe not as sexist as Augusta National.
Or Bohemian Grove.
Or the Vatican.
But sexist nonetheless...
...and it is a kinda sneaky sorta sexism.
Okay, look, put down the pitchforks and flaming torches and hear me out, then try to tell me I am wrong.
Look around your mooring field or marina- what do you see?
Lots of boats, owned by couples.
Who's usually at the helm? The Captain.
Who plots the course? The Captain.
Who makes the new gear choices? The Captain.
Who is always shopping for the next boat? The Captain.
Who's yelling? The Captain.
Meanwhile, who's hanging fenders, throwing docklines, winching halyards, fending off the dock when somebody plows into the slip too hot (again), ignoring the yelling, shopping for provisions, stowing the provisions, packing clothes, unpacking clothes, hanging towels and bathing suits to dry, managing laundry, cooking, passing tools, scrubbing decks, sanding hulls and, most importantly.... tending bar?
The First Mate.
It just doesn't sound like a real fifty-fifty partnership, does it?
The title of this week's Reviewsday Tuesday book doesn't help the cause...
The Perfect First Mate
- image courtesy of Amazon.ca
The subtitle, "A woman's guide to recreational boating," sorta soothes the sting, but, as SWMBO pointed out, when I asked her to help me review this book,
"If I was in a bookstore looking at a choice of books on boating fundamentals, I'd probably pass on this one, just on basic principle."
So I picked it up and read it instead.
(I'm not sure what this says about the equality, or lack thereof, in our personal and boating relationship, but I am sure it says something.)
It's too bad about the unfortunate title, because, if you can get past the cover, you discover there's a lot of solid information packed inside.
Joy Smith brings some solid credentials to the party. A long time boater, Ms. Smith now serves as first mate on a Farr 50, Joy For All, and is a Salty Dawg Rally veteran, with a variety of fiction and non-fiction works under her belt. It quickly becomes obvious she knows her stuff.
Originally published in 1999, The Perfect First Mate is now in it's second edition. Logically laid out, "...First Mate" is loaded wiht good info for the novice boater- The introduction is titled "So You've Bought a Boat." Subsequent chapters demonstrate an exhaustive approach to boating that provides value to more experienced boaters as well, cover everything from stowage to storage to provisioning to pets to hygiene to ...sex.
First mate Smith's writing style is breezy, conversational, comprehensible, and deceptively in-depth; there is little jargon, and the information is clearly presented and easy to understand. For example, want to know how to get rid of mold and mildew and prevent it from coming back? It's in here, and the author explains not just how to deal with it, but what causes it.
The author is a sailor, but the information presented is largely applicable to both sail and power boats.
That breezy writing style is subversive- without directly spelling it out, First Mate Smith makes it clear who really runs a boat... which maybe why a First Mate is often more correctly known as The Admiral
If you've just bought a boat or are considering a boat purchase, this is a good place for new boaters of both sexes to start.
Just get past the cover.
"Talk the Dock!"