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Helpless Female or Hopeless Captain?

What I am about to confess is heresy for a woman known for pushing women to push their limits. But, in the last week, it appears that I have been cast in the role of the helpless female needing to be rescued by strapping, testosterone-fueled  males.

Let me explain: I am a new boat owner and, as a captain, I suck. I suck to the point where, on a four-hour excursion Saturday, I  beached my pontoon boat on a sandbar, got us stuck in forceful cross-currents that required all of us to jump out and pull with all our might to free the boat, nearly ran out of gas and continued to stall out repeatedly for the day. The stalling out was the engine’s fault. The rest of the blame is all mine.

If I ask you to join me for a leisurely ride to the beautiful coastal islands near Clearwater, Fla., do the smart thing and go to a movie. Saturday, I putted out of the marina with three of my very best friends. Thank God my friend Art was there to use his boating skills and muscles for one disaster after another. And, thank God that, on every previous trip, I was joined by my friend Doug, who is the closest thing to a true brother that I have ever had. Doug’s tried to teach me what I need to know, but so many crazy things keep happening.

I fear I sound like some sort of a ditz. How hard can it be to drive a pontoon boat, right? If you spend 20 minutes at any boat launch, you will see that there are a lot of good boaters around, and a lot of them don’t seem to have much going on upstairs in the brain department. Now, if they can figure all this out, why can’t I?

After I stalled out in the middle of the channel, Art quietly scooted me over and took the helm. And, as a good feminist, what did I do? Did I say, “NO, let me handle this!” Heck no. I grabbed a Diet Coke and my cell phone so I could call Doug and tell him to meet us at the marina to help us tie up the boat. Even less work for me.

Now, I hate looking like a helpless female. But, if these guys feel better about themselves by taking charge and saving the day, who am I to stop them?

Is it that I am a helpless female or a hopeless boat captain? To be honest, I wouldn’t care if the person taking charge of my boat were a strong man or a strong woman or a chimpanzee wearing a tutu. I just wanted to be back at the dock.

Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of five books. She is one of the nation’s top speakers on leadership and performance.

  1. Perhaps all you need is to spend time with a female captain with more experience than you so that you will not have to rely on men to rescue you!
    I am a female captain, having been boating for 44 years and find it to be quite a rush to do what few women in the country do for pleasure.
    You are not a helpless female obviously and possibly not a hopeless boat captain. You do need to have a genuine passion for boating and the water to get the most enjoyment from it.
    I find that a lot of men hate seeing me running a big boat and are shocked that a female is behind the helm. It is even worse if we are taking a trip and have invited another couple to join us. My husband is my first mate and takes orders quite well from the captain, but I have run into trouble with other men on our boat who just can not take orders from women. I also love the look on people’s faces when they see an all men crew and me at the helm and my girlfriend beside me. Woman POWER!

  2. What a great comment. Well, this will not surprise you. I gave up my share of the boat two weeks ago! Wahoo. Now I am back in my kayak and soooo happy.

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