Trafalgar Sailing Blog

How can I get my wife into sailing?

So you are keen to get out into the open waters and feel the salty sea air on your face, but you get the feeling that your wonderful wife is reluctant. She is going along with it because she loves you, but really would prefer to be reading a book by a pool in a cute boutique hotel somewhere nice on the coast. Or she has refused point blank to go as she hated it last time and you cant convince her otherwise. Your mind wrestles with what to do…  options are to go sailing with other people or sit by the pool with her looking out  to the ocean wishing you were there amongst the elements sailing a yacht.

Learn to sail together

Here are a few tips and perhaps home truths for you to think about:

  • You don’t make it easy for her to crew as you are not as good a skipper as you think you are.

Sorry to burst your bubble but this is a common problem, may not be true in your case but read on and decide.  For example; many times I have seen a couple sailing on to the visitors pontoon, a gentle wind is pushing the yacht away from the pier and it should be easy to come alongside. The husband is on the helm the wife on the bow with the bow line ready to jump off, she probably has only agreed to this as there is no one else onboard volunteering and she cant wait to get off the boat and be free from being ordered about by her husband. So she jumps ashore and secures the bow line, job done. But no, as now her husband is throwing her the stern line and by the time she gets that on the bollard or around a cleat the wind has pushed the yachts stern out and it is now sitting there like a flag,  perfectly secure with the bow line but at completely the wrong angle to the pier. What SHOULD happen here is the husband either:

A, Put the rudder over and use the engine to tuck in the stern towards the pier.


B, Puts the stern line onto a winch and winches the stern of the boat towards the pier.

But does neither, as he is busy doing something else. So she starts trying to pull in the 8 ton boat towards the pier against the wind.  All the time thinking how she would like to kill him.

This is just one of many things you could learn on an RYA sailing course. Better still, persuade your wife to do the sailing course and let her moor the boat. If you are physically stronger than her, then why not  be the one to jump ashore or run around the deck pulling the lines.

And if you are thinking that men are better drivers than women think again.

  • If you are chartering a yacht, make sure the company stocks the yacht with food before you arrive.

Imagine this, you have finally arrived to your palm tree paradise after a crazy early morning cheap flight and just want to drop your bags and relax in the cock pit with a large glass of wine and some olives.  The kids are all excited running around exploring the boat, everything is perfect.  Except for one fundamental necessity: there is no food or drink on the boat and everyone is tired, thirsty and will soon be hungry! You could go out to dinner but then there is still breakfast tomorrow in the back of your mind. Your common sense is telling you, are you really going to go to the supermarket tomorrow morning on an empty stomach and have the kids wake up to no corn flakes? Of course not, no one wants hangry kids! So super mum goes looking for a supermarket, which would normally be an easy task but she does not have a car and is in a strange place so does not even know where one is. When she does find one (which is hopefully still open) she has to carry all the heavy bags to the boat, because hey, you don’t need a car when you are cruising.  You have not even started sailing and your wife’s back hurts. All this could have been avoided by choosing a charter company that stocks the yacht with breakfasts, lunches and drinks before you arrive.  Oh and make sure the yacht charter company prepare the beds too, not just provide the bedding and you have to make your own bed on arrival.

  • Get her the appropriate clothing so she is comfortable.

Lets say you have been a good husband and booked your sailing holiday in a nice sunny spot but mother nature put a spanner in the works and the weather forecast is not great. Make sure your wife has appropriate footwear that will keep her feet dry and warm. Not flip flops that are a liability on a boat at the best of times and suicidal when the decks are wet.  Pack a warm waterproof jacket, it does not have to be specifically for sailing, hiking clothes will do, sailing gloves, hat….

  • Don’t be too ambitious doing long passages. Short passages from one island to another in Greece or Croatia is good, or short 4-5 hour hops along the Med coast.

Once she has enjoyed some shorter trips, she will naturally progress to wanting to be more adventurous and then you can go further. If you are planning on going short handed and she is going to be doing watches make sure you both get enough sleep, if needed take another crew member or skipper with local knowledge just for the passage and then they can jump ship when you get there.  If you have flights to catch at the end of your holiday give yourself plenty of time to get back. The weather forecast may not be accurate and the wind could be against you, or worse still something may break on the boat and you don’t want to be stressed about missing your flight and not getting back to work/school/dog sitter in time.

  • If she gets sea sick make sure she takes a pill or ginger.

It is nothing to be ashamed of, Lord Nelson got sea sick. It is horrible, we have all been there, you just want to rewind time and have taken a sea sick pill 2 hours ago, but it is too late and your are green. If you are not sure if she going to need it or not just suggest half a pill as a whole one can make you feel drowsy. Another natural remedy is fresh ginger in the cooking.  If she does get sea sick DO NOT send her down below to do anything, better that she is on the wheel looking at the horizon. Give her some biscuits to eat even if she is not hungry it is better to have something in the stomach.  Try and change the point of sail to make the boat more comfortable without delaying the journey too much.

  • Go sailing somewhere with good weather.

Nothing wrong with being a fair weather sailor. Go sailing in the spring and autumn when it is not too cold and not too hot either.  Canary islands in summer is baking hot, England in winter is freezing. Aim for something in the middle.

  • She may be scared. With knowledge comes confidence.

Maybe she thinks the boat is going to capsize, or one of you is going fall overboard and how will she find you and get you back onboard? She may not trust your navigation skills but does not want to hurt your feelings.  What if all the electronics stop working and she can’t find out where she is on the chart and is lost with sea in all directions and no sight of land?  These are all genuine rational fears that anyone that hasn’t been taught to sail can have. Suggest sail training, but without any pressure to pass an RYA qualification. That way she can learn all the skills she needs. She will then know that when the boat heels over it is not going to capsize. She can learn what to do if someone falls overboard. How to make a mayday call (which actually could save your life) and if she wants to she can even learn to navigate, which would bring more meaning to the whole experience.  Once she feels that she is in control and not in a vulnerable situation reliant on someone else to get back to land and at the mercy of that huge sea, she may just start to enjoy it.

Learn to sail

Oh and if you are the wife that wants to go sailing and your husband doesn’t then just swap the words and replace wife with husband and vice versa, or boyfriend or transsexual partner or non-binary, or whatever rocks your boat.

Next week’s blog:  Can I afford to buy a boat?




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