• Men and boats

    (Photo by Howard Roark)

    Sailing big yachts around the marinas of the world is almost exclusively the preserve of couples of a certain age. And captaining that yacht is – according to my eagle-eyed research – entirely the preserve of the man.

    It’s the end of another yachting season where I live in Malmö’s Dockan marina. That means a marina that lies dormant half the year has been full of yachts with Danish, German, Dutch and Polish flags.

    The economics and time constraints of this hobby mean that you appear to have to be a 50+ couple to even contemplate it. Almost every boat has aboard a man and a woman enjoying their silver age upon the high seas.

    Ahoy there, captain!

    And as they glide into the marina, without fail it will be the woman that stands at the bow, rope in hand, ready to leap nimbly to dockside like a good first mate and secure the yacht. At the wheel will be the captain. The male captain.

    We all know about male drivers – the propensity of husbands to drive the car. This is the almost unspoken collusion whereby the role of driver and passenger become cemented in a marriage. But this stereotype is no longer an absolute in the automobile.

    Yet in yachting, which is, after all, a higher end of the market, with much bigger, shinier and more expensive vehicles involved, the need/desire/inevitability of the man holding the helm appears unshakable.

    I’m still waiting eagerly for the first time I see a man clutching that bow rope, his wife eyeing the horizon with a steady eye as she nudges the ship’s wheel to port. Still waiting… here’s hoping…

    On the subject of men and women, have you heard about ‘mansplaining’? Let me mansplain…