Friday, December 31, 2010


Woman is a mysterious creature.

I have written before - for example at Tillerwoman and Tillerwoman's Rules - about my wife's aversion to sailing.

To be honest, she is not very fond of the water at all. She can swim but she is not at all that confident in the water. She has a morbid fear of deep water which is totally resistant to my repeated rational logical explanations that you can just as easily drown in 7 feet of water as 70 feet. She will occasionally ride on a boat with me if the conditions are perfect - but not if she is expected to be responsible for any action concerned with actually sailing the boat such as holding a jib sheet or assisting in picking up a mooring. For many years she has consistently refused to race with me under any circumstances.

Like many men faced with the mysteries of woman and her strange likes and dislikes I have often pondered if this is somehow all my fault...

Could it be that she just hates sailing with me but might enjoy it more in other company? Maybe. But she has always resisted my suggestions to take some of those Womyn Only sailing lessons where "nobody shouts"?

Could it be that I put her off sailing for life because I shouted at her to put the centerboard down in the race at the end of our beginners' sailing course in Minorca in 1981? Maybe. But I only shouted once. Well... maybe twice. But I didn't call her any bad words. And it was almost 30 years ago. And we did win that bloody race, didn't we?

I dunno. Truly woman is a mysterious creature.

This month we had a breakthrough. We went back to the Bitter End Yacht Club in the BVI again. Same time as last year. For ten days. Actually it was largely her idea that we visit there again this December after our excellent vacation there last year.

But this year it was different.

My wife sailed in the races with me. Three times. For the two Sunday regattas and the mid-week beer can races. She laughed and smiled a lot and seemed to be having a good time. (See photo above. Does that look like a woman who doesn't like sailing?) And we even won one of those regattas!

She sailed with me on other days just for fun, including sailing on boats where she actually had to do stuff like holding a jib sheet and picking up a mooring. And she didn't once complain.

We took two long trips together in a kayak where we crossed open water to other islands and paddled further from land than she would ever have been comfortable doing before. I even broached the subject of how we could perhaps kayak together around the various ponds and creeks and bays of Rhode Island next summer, and my suggestion was at least left open for further consideration and discussion.

I have no idea why she suddenly became so enthusiastic about participating in water sports with me, after thirty years of my unsuccessful attempts to interest her in boating. I didn't suddenly discover a killer argument in favor of sailing or behave any differently towards her. As far as I know.

I just know that I am a very lucky man.

Woman is a mysterious creature.

Update: My Jan/Feb 2011 issue of Sailing World arrived today. Before I had a chance to look at it myself, Tillerwoman had grabbed it, skimmed through it, and was making intelligent conversation over dinner about Ken Read's article on the Pro-Am Regatta at BEYC and Dave Reed's article about Sailing World's selection of the RS/100 as Boat of the Year.

This is getting seriously weird.


bonnie said...

Marvelous! What a nice last post for 2010.

Happy New Year to all the Tillerfolk!

Tillerman said...

Thanks bonnie. Yes, I think it was a very appropriate post to end the year. Could be the most important thing that happened to us this year. Maybe?

Happy New Year to all the Bonniefolk!

Baydog said...

Maybe a 470 in the Tillerfuture? M-scow? So happy for you both. Happy New Year Mr. and Mrs. T!

Tillerman said...

Geeze Baydog. 470s scare me, never mind the good lady. I need to take this slowly. It took me 30 years to get this far so I don't want to risk everything by getting crazy.

Happy New Year to Mr. and Mrs. Baydog and the Baypuppies!

O Docker said...

Yes, you are a lucky man.

Say what you will for sailing, it's a whole lot better sharing it with someone you care about, than with a boatload of sweaty guys.

Hoping this is the year that Tillerwoman becomes a tillerwoman in her own right.

And a Happy New Year from someone who's still typing in the old year.

It occurs to me that I'm still sober, you may very well not be, and Buff Staysail is probably just waking up with a hangover.

Pandabonium said...

Wonderful. I wish you many memorable adventures sailing together.

I feel twice blessed. Once that my better half shares sailing with me, and again because we aren't trying to win any races. ;^)

Sam Chapin said...

OK, now buy another Laser.

Fred said...

I am glad I read this today. It convinces me even more to visit the BEYC even if the trip to get there, is a nightmare from this side of the pond.
Happy New Year to all the Bloggers out there!

Tillerman said...

Woo hoo. Go for it Fred. How about a sailing bloggers' fun week at BEYC the first week of December every year?

tillerwoman said...

I am Tillerwoman and I approve this message. said...

Yeah! This is awesome! Good for you, Tillers!

MYCSunfish Fleet said...

I have similar issues, but I need to start in small steps. As of today, I can whisper the word "boat" without inducing spontaneous projectile vomiting. I've advanced to putting photos of boats in a few strategic locations in the house. So far there have been only a few incidents. Eventually I hope to get her to see a boat for real.

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