The single-handed cruising couple
We don’t run into this all that often but when we do, it’s a puzzler. I’m referring to boats with a couple onboard where one of the two (it’s always been the woman in the situations we’ve witnessed but it definitely wouldn’t have to be) does absolutely nothing. That’s right, nada, at least as far as operating the boat goes.
The other day we watched the captain of a smallish monohull anchored just behind us, running back and forth between the bow and the cockpit in the process of raising anchor. During this time, the woman on the boat (I’ll refer to her as his wife for simplicity) just sat there. She was not at the helm nor was she on the bow. She was just sitting there in the cockpit as the guy made multiple trips back and forth. We commented on it but they soon left so it was quickly forgotten.
Yesterday afternoon though, they returned and were obviously set on getting their place behind us back again. The sound of their anchor dropping drew our attention and when we poked our heads up to see where they were, we saw that they had dropped it only about 6 feet astern of us. That’s pretty close but in normal conditions, if everyone was lying back from the wind in the same direction, it could have been OK. The thing is, none of the boats were. There was no wind at that time and all of the boats were simply being held in place by the weight of their anchor chain. This makes it difficult to really figure out where to anchor. As you might imagine, this quickly turned into a problem. Before this couple got their sails squared away (actually, I shouldn’t say couple because again, the woman did nothing to help with this) their boat was getting dangerously close to ours.
Rebecca was the first on deck to monitor this and I was quick to follow. The captain of the boat saw us giving him the evil eye as his boat drifted closer and closer to ours. To his credit, without any words from us, he started the process of raising his anchor, but again, all by himself. Where was his wife? Down below, seemingly oblivious to the fact that their boat was about to hit ours. Am I exaggerating? No. She only popped her head up to see what was happening as I kicked their boat away from ours! I had a few choice words for them at this moment in time and sensing my displeasure, the captain of the boat, still the only one doing anything of value on board, increased his pace.
The situation ended with that boat leaving and anchoring far away from us but it left Rebecca and I scratching our heads. I know that not all cruising couples are equals when it comes to operating the boat but even still, anyone can be taught, and should be taught, how to steer the boat and operate the throttle. Our friend George has had several crew on board Earthling, all of whom were pretty new to boating. In short order, each of them were able to do as I describe, and substantially more. Perhaps it’s not necessary and the captain is capable of single-handing the boat, under normal circumstances. I wouldn’t call yesterday’s situation a normal circumstance though. I don’t want come across as too judgmental as there may be circumstances that we’re not aware of. That said, this dynamic is definitely peculiar as far as we’re concerned.