On a yacht, let people do their jobs!

As a freelance yachting instructor I run many training courses for couples on their own sailing yachts or motor vessels. One of the first questions that I ask when I get on board is; "What do you want to achieve from this training?"

Probably the most common answer is that the husband says; "My wife is nervous about handling the yacht in a marina, I would like you to improve her boat handling ability and confidence."

In nearly every case I know what will happen when I start to teach the wife to drive the boat in a confined space.

Whilst she is driving the yacht, the husband will be constantly offering 'helpful' advice, or talking her through the manoeuvre even when he is on the foredeck handling the mooring ropes. If this happens even when they are paying a professional to do the teaching, what happens when I am not there?

That is the reason she lacks confidence to perform herself!

If you give someone a job to do, let them do it. There is no point in setting a task, then controlling that person's every movement with instructions. If you do this, you may as well be doing it yourself.

The reaction of many people to very fine supervision is to feel that they can not do what is being asked. This in itself is undermining their confidence. On top of this, if every time they do something, they are given 'helpful' advice they will feel that they are being criticised and will become unwilling to take a chance of failing in the future. It is very subtle, but over time, these people will become passive and not excited about taking on more demanding tasks..

A better approach is to realise that they need time to develop their skill, and for them to avoid those harder situations until they have that skill. In the mean time, even their least successful attempts must be praised to give them confidence and self belief. A person who enjoys the experience will be keen to try again, this in itself will lead to their improvement.

The best way to help someone develop skill is to set goal related tasks not technical ones. One simple goal related task to use is to stop the boat on a transit, if this can be done consistantly in different wind and tide conditions the drivers confidence will improve a huge amount. The will feel that they can stop the boat in the correct place in the marina and not worry about hitting other boats.

One of the reasons men tend to treat their wives like this when on boats, is that they let their egos become tied up in their wife's performance, men who do this will soon find that their wives either give up sailing or will never take an active role in the running of the boat.

One approach to help women improve their skills is for the husband to keep out of the way, either go below and do some chart work, or let your wife go on a ladies only training course with a RYA recognised sailing school.

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