|Dan knows how to sew and cook, and this summer I learned that bluest of blue jobs, rebuilding the carburetor on our outboard.|
Dan's grandparents divvied up chores on the farm this way. Anything indoors was Mom and the girl children's responsibility, cooking and cleaning and laundry; and anything outdoors was Dad and the boys' job, plowing and harvesting and feeding the cattle and reroofing the barn. And so many cruising couples we know do essentially the same thing: "she" cooks and cleans and stores provisions and chooses the window covers. Sometimes she sews, even including the sails. "He" makes the boat go and gets it there, changes the engine oil and takes the helm and chooses the anchor. Um, yeah. Having lived through the 1950s once (at least part of the 1950s, even though I was too young to really remember it) I have no wish to do it again, but that's what these roles remind me of.
A fellow writer was working on an article about women and cruising and was asking a group of us for advice we'd give to new women cruisers. Hey, I should be able to help with that, after all, I've been happily living aboard this boat for ten years now. And yet I was drawing a blank and couldn't figure out why. "Don't have any advice specifically for women," I emailed back, "and maybe that is the advice. At sea, there are no gender roles, there are just tasks that need doing. You don't have to be able to do them well (or as well as your spouse, if that's who you're cruising with) but you have to be able to get the job done." I'm not as good at sail trim as Dan, and he's not as good at navigation as me, but each of us knows how to all the tasks we need to to make our boat move. We each have our comfort zones, but the biggest comfort is that whatever the world throws at us, Team Cinderella has two brains that can try to tackle the problem.
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