Women on Boats

More A woman than a lady

I struggle with defining a lady vs a woman. For me, the word “lady” conjures up positive concepts like grace, poise, beauty, thoughtfulness and kindness but also negative notions of stuffiness, pomposity and conformance. Needing to have the perfect face, perfect hair, clothes…Bah! The idea that being a lady is something all women should aspire to…double bah!

Having manners is obviously a huge part of being a decent human being but when there are inflexible rules for social situations – e.g. one must use the term “one” to refer to one’s self – we venture into areas of social interaction that are just not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I know my soup-spoon from my caviar knife but here’s the important thing: I don’t care! I’d be as comfortable using a cake fork to eat caviar in Durban harbour as I would be using my fingers to scoop a bunny chow in front of Her Maj. Provided Lizzie got stuck in too, of course. Can’t let your guests feel awkward.

A “lady” to me is a precious, fragile thing. A woman by her very nature is graceful, thoughtful and kind. She can be formal if she needs to be but she can be wild too*. She is empowered and powerful. She knows how to let go. A lady can’t. A lady compels restraint where a wild woman frees herself to follow her heart AND her head. Being a woman has far more advantages than locking down your impulses to become a lady in my book.

This philosophy is important on a boat.


Women on Boats

figureheadFor centuries, boats were named after women but they were not allowed to sail on them. The reasons usually relate to some superstition or myth, who knows. All I know is that I’m glad I live in a day and age where women are welcomed onto boats for both leisure and racing. We are no longer thrown overboard to appease angry sea gods whipping up a storm. Thing is, even my limited time training on the Clipper boats, I’ve noticed that much of the kit designed for use on boats – harnesses, MOB drysuits, etc – have not been designed with women in mind. Women have hips. We have boobs. Usually, we have a shorter reach (arms and legs) and it can make using on-board equipment a little tricky.

Thankfully, women are very resourceful and we devise ways to be effective regardless. I’ve been talking to a few female sailors for tips and advice specific to us girls. I’ll update this list as I learn more.


from the Front Line
  • Sports bras push your boobs together so if you are even moderately endowed, you will have amazing cleavage. Win! However, in tropical climes, the sweat and the rubbing may give you a rash. Boo hiss! Solution: Sudocrem and a tampon down the aforementioned cleavage. Boom!
  • Things will get very intimate very quickly. 21 people on a boat for weeks at a time and nought but a thin piece of canvas between you and the rest of the crew when you’re doing a number 2. Privacy when changing? Erm…no. So you can’t worry about whether Joe in the next bunk can see your fat rolls or if Michelle can hear you fart. Get on with it.
  • There is limited water on board and it will be reserved for cooking/drinking and teeth. You will not be showering (or once every couple of weeks if lucky). Wet wipes are your friend. But ew, what about:
  • Periods. Lucky me, I got to experience that on L1 and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. There are bins in the head (even toilet paper goes in there!) and again, wet wipes = golden.
    • Some ladies advocate Moon cups or similar. I’m not convinced. Leakage and using water to clean them are my biggest “nopes” but perhaps some of you ladies out there know more than I and can advise..?
  • More to come, no doubt…

And so…this female is going to dispense with trying to be a lady. Imma “woman up” and laugh at rude jokes (even make a few of my own) and get on with it. I draw the line at farting, though. No botty coughs here.

Thanks for reading, as ever. Smooches to you!




Women who run with the wolvesFor those interested in the mentalness part of my story, there’s a fantastic and fascinating read that I’m currently engrossed with. The book is called “Women Who Run with the Wolves” and the blub reads thusly:

Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D., Jungian analyst and cantadora storyteller shows how women’s vitality can be restored through what she calls “psychic archeological digs” into the ruins of the female unconcsious. Using multicultural myths, fairy tales, folk tales, and stories, Dr. Estes helps women reconnect with the healthy, instinctual, visionary attributes of the Wild Woman archetype.”

I reckon a lot of the principles apply to men too but would say that guys should probably look elsewhere. This one is Girls Only.

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