Friday, September 23, 2011

Counting My Blessings

(Warning: this is a rant and if you're easily offended you may want to skip it.  Ed)

If you read this blog regularly you'll recall that last weekend was a work weekend.  (OK stop laughing, I know every weekend is a work weekend...)  My designated project for the day was to replace the hinge on the hatch aft of the helm station, replace the gasket, and to mount a storage box underneath it for our handheld VHF and whatever snacks the watch person might like to have kept dry on a wet night.  As a way of explanation, this hatch used to house a remote VHF on a bracket that was destroyed because the previous owner didn't ever bother to replace the broken hinge so water was pretty much continuously pouring down on the VHF, ergo its demise.

The work went well, thanks to a couple ideas offered by marina regulars on how best to remove the now completely corroded-in broken hinge pin, (Note to self: must have a good vise mounted somewhere in the boat before we leave) and I was in the middle of mounting the plastic box under the hatch when a guy saunters past, stops briefly, shakes his head, and directs the following comment in the general direction of Tim who was working on the hatch over the salon a few feet away, "I would never let my wife handle a power tool like that." before sauntering on down the dock.  At the wise old age of 55 I try very hard to keep my feminist opinions to myself, especially in the confines of the marina where we have many good friends.  To my credit, I bit my tongue and let Tim rifle off a comment to him which clearly didn't penetrate his very firmly established views about women, but I very much wanted to tell him that I thought it was a miracle that his wife let an a**hole like him be her husband.

I'm a reasonably competent person with tools of all sorts, and the work on Kintala is largely shared by both me and Tim.  I credit this almost completely to the fact that I have somehow managed to snag the most encouraging, supportive, respectful partner that exists on the planet, and one that manages to ignore my rantings and ravings about people like this particular dock-walker.  I originally wasn't even going to say anything about this particular incident, but 2 days later I read a post by Kathleen over at SailVicarious where she was asking for help in creating a seminar for couples in which the man wanted to sail off into the sunset and the woman was reluctant due to fear, and it aggravated me to the point where I just had to say something.

The fact is, if you're a man who wants to go cruising and your wife is reluctant to go because she's never been encouraged in your relationship to expand her knowledge base and skills, never had the opportunity to handle the power tools, never allowed to voice her opinion, then in my eyes it's just too late to drag her along into what will almost always end up being a challenging situation.

Our 40 years together have been a partnership.  We do tend to fall into Pink and Blue roles on the boat sometimes, conceding to the inevitably gender-biased upbringing in our society and what skills we've become proficient at, but when the projects to be done are all Blue, I pick up a wrench and a [gasp] power tool, and dig in.  It's not to say I don't fall prey to certain fears about cruising - I believe we all do at some point, but my incredibly supportive and encouraging husband has made it possible for me to be not only looking forward to our departure, but eagerly anticipating it, and for that I daily count my blessings. 

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