Friday, 15 August 2014

There is a slight possibility that I might make myself unpopular among both men and women with this blog post, but I am of the opinion that there are certain things I as a women don’t have to do/learn. E.g. I don't think I have to be able to mend a bike or check the tire pressure.

If I could, I wouldn't fill up the car either, but unfortunately I've never able to get off that. Since I started sailing with Henrik, I've also added operating the outboard to the list of things that I don't think I ought to do. After I sailed in circles to the beach two years ago, and had to row back again, because I couldn't remember how to start the engine, I decided that it was not for me. Every time I see a woman operating the outboard, though, I feel a bit guilty: Ought I to learn?

But luckily, this is a rare sight. In St. Lucia, I was attending a Ladies’ Lunch, and not a single woman sailed on her own to the lunch. We were all escorted by our partners, whom we called for on a handheld VHF radio, when we were ready to go home – who needs to know how to operate the outboard on your own then?

Henrik asks me regularly, if I don't want to learn it – that maybe I'm a bit limited, when I can’t take the dinghy alone and go ashore? I always defend it though by saying that first of all I never feel limited, since I just ask him to bring me ashore, if I want to go somewhere.

Secondly, if I have the dinghy ashore, then he would feel limited on the boat. However, this week has been the week where I have crossed the line and become a part of the women who know how to operate the outboard engine! The day before I had repeated to Henrik that operating the outboard was just something I had no interest in learning, but the day after I happened to be right where it made sense, and after a short instruction (push here, pull there), I had started the engine and steered us ashore. And my newly obtained skill has already shown to come in handy! The other day I got really irritated with Henrik, and I was then able to take the dinghy and sail to shore myself! Henrik probably wouldn't have minded sailing me ashore, but it doesn't have the same snap to it when saying: “I'm going for a walk!

Could you please take me ashore?”

One thing is getting the outboard started, though, another is to steer it and park it. So far I've been lucky, when I bring it to the dinghy dock, but placing it by the boat has been almost impossible, and it doesn't make it easier that the current is either thee knots on way or the other. I have to practice on that, but I do enjoy my recently acquired freedom!

Outboard starting Checklist:

The following list is my mental checklist to operate a 2,5 HP Yamaha outboard engine:

1) Put the kill-switch on the handle (or something else, if I have lost it for some reason)
2) Attach the other end of the kill-switch to my waistband in case I should fall overboard.
3) Turn the handle, so the mark is off the red dot
4) Check that the lit on the top of the engine is open
5) Open the fuel
6) Pull the cord until it starts (pull hard)
7) Put it in gear
8) Turn the handle and steer to the best of your abilities

If the engine doesn't start, it might be drowned. Shut off the fuel injection and pull the cord until the engine starts – then open the fuel injection again. To avoid it drowning, shut off the fuel before you reach your destination.

Signe Storr Freelance Journalist and Friend of Boatshed