The Captain Rob Cozen
Certified Marine Surveyor NewsLetter
June 1998 Archive


About ten years ago, I was asked to conduct a seminar for the women partners of boat owners. The intention of the seminar was to show women how they could help their husbands have an enjoyable day on the water (i.e. what clothes to bring, how to pack a lunch, sun block, etc.) The only orders that women had to respond to underway were "honey, bring me another beer and where's the cole slaw". But fortunately times have changed and women have become an integral part of boat crews. Women have attended boating classes with their mates or have purchased boats of their own. The intellect and strength needed to be a proper skipper shows no gender preference. Modern-day powerboats are easily handled by anyone who is willing to take the time to learn and dedicate the many hours of practice needed to make critical responses instinctual. The other major reason why it's time for men to share the helm is safety. Since men typically play the major role in the actual operation of the boat underway, they are also most vulnerable for boating-related injuries. It is imperative that there be another person on board, experienced not only in emergency medical response, but also capable of bringing the boat back to dock safely in the event that the husband/skipper gets hurt or sick. There is absolutely no biological, physical or psychological reason why women can't handle a powerboat as well as a man. (I'll address sailboats next month).

To begin, the female partner should take a hands-on boating course. Not the one that the Coast Guard Auxiliary gives. Sure, it's great to have theoretical knowledge of knots and navigation. But what you really need is time behind the wheel. The best time to take the course is when you buy the boat. Most marinas/brokers offer some type of course. If not, find a delivery captain or ask at your local boat supply store for the name of someone who gives boating courses. The worst person to teach a woman is her husband or boyfriend. Typically, it takes about thirty minutes for this to degenerate into a screaming match. (At bit of advise, take all filet knives and clubs off the boat during the classes if you do choose the husband/boyfriend route). The best person is someone who is actually a boating instructor who has the skills and patience to guide you along at your pace. There are many things on a boat that are different from a car like manual throttles and gear shifters. The proper use and coordination of engine controls take a long time to perfect. Practice, practice, etc.. not only in the main body of water but also practice docking; which is the most intimidating thing for most people. Practice docking a thousand times in all current and wind conditions. It you have to think about what the boat will do if you use this throttle or that shifter, you still need more practice. Don't ever lose sight of why we boat. Communing with nature, fishing, camaraderie, Baltimore, spending money, spending money, spending money and ever so often...having fun.

So, why not try some role-reversing exercises on board.....not just because it's the nineties and men have become more sensitive to women's needs and feelings, but because it could save the life of the person closest to you and expands the true meaning of the term "Mate".

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Captain Rob Cozen
Master Marine Surveyor
P.O. Box 220
Somers Point, NJ 08244
Office: (609) 926-4949 - Cell: (609) 335-1500
(Outside South Jersey) (800) 64SURVEY - Toll Free!

copyright 1998, Captain Rob Cozen, all rights reserved.