From dream to reality – How to encourage your partner to share your love of boating

You have a new boat, a new love, or maybe both. Boating’s in your blood, but how do you ensure your partner will grow to love it as much as you do? We’ve put a few tips together to give you a hand…

Get them involved

Shared passions need both partners’ involvement. Having one person along only to please the other just doesn’t work long term. Inevitably, there will come a time when they admit they would rather be somewhere else. Either you will go boating without them, or there will be a compromise – each trip on the boat balanced by an outing of their choice.

Looking from their perspective, you are asking a self-sufficient adult to put aside their own interests and come along as a novice in your world. You may or may not be competent, you may be impatient at their shortcomings, and you may even yell at them. Or you may prefer them to keep out of the way – as a passenger or spectator in your idea of fun. How does that lead to total engagement?

Give them a chance to understand what happening and why. Show them how to take part – steering the boat, navigating, hoisting and trimming sails – explain what’s going on and let them try it.

Mum and Gran might have been content with passive roles, or continuing their home duties aboard, but in the 21st century most women expect more. They need to participate, to be involved. It’s the involvement which leads to a feeling that this is a shared adventure, one in which they are not just along for the ride.

 Be real

If you tempt them aboard with romantic stories of champagne and sunsets, or make any unrealistic promises at all, the first time it’s not like that they will stop believing you. Let them know it may be rough going down the Channel, but once there it will be calm. Let them know that sometimes it doesn’t all go to plan, but you can deal with it – and hey, if you can’t, make sure you have a plan B!

 Don’t scare them

First impressions are vital, but they are not the whole story. You may pick a perfect day for your partner’s introduction to boating, but you have to keep it up – the second, third and fourth times – until they are relaxed about coping with the not-so-perfect days.

 Make it fun

You might love those quiet winter days at anchor. They may find that boring, or they may be frightened when you are enjoying a good sail. Check which parts of boating they like the best, and give them more of that. For women, there is a fair chance that being stuck with the cooking and cleaning is not going to thrill them.

 Let ‘em learn

Boating is just about mastering a series of simple skills. Explained properly, most are not that daunting. If a five year old can learn to drive the dinghy, so can your adult partner. If they can work a computer or smart phone, a chart plotter won’t faze them. They might even read the instructions! Give them a go, without rushing in to help when they get it wrong. Don’t let them endanger themselves or the boat, but remember, we learn from our mistakes. Someone taking over when you’re trying something new is a sure way to crush enthusiasm.

 Let ‘em learn without you

They say teaching your partner to drive is a sure recipe for trouble, and it’s the same with boating. Encourage them to take a course or two, or join in beginner’s or women’s days. Women may like to join the Facebook group Women Who Sail Australia, whose members range from novice to extremely experienced. It’s a closed group, no fellas allowed, and just about anything to do with boating can be discussed in a supportive atmosphere.

 Provide the right gear

If you need proper boating gear to stay comfortable and safe, don’t let your partner go without. If there is anything worse than being cold and miserable it would be being cold and miserable while your partner is warm and dry. Or being relegated to sit inside, like a ferry passenger.

 Acknowledge your mistakes

Teaching a partner can be incredibly frustrating. You’re not perfect and sometimes your impatience, frustration or disappointment will show. Despite your best intentions, there will be times when the relationship is strained. Remember this is someone you love. If an apology will help, give one. When the steam has settled, sit down quietly and go over what happened and how to avoid the problem next time.

Your partner’s introduction to boating is a wonderful opportunity and a critical time. Get it right and they will buy into your dream. Mess it up and the boat will become a source of friction between you. It’s worth doing whatever you need to do to get them to share your passion. Best of luck.

Author: Petrea McCarthy