The call rings out over the engine noise from below…..”give her more RPM’s!!!”. I ramp up the engine to 2000 RPMs and stand by. After a few moments the next shout comes…”shift her back to into neutral!!!” While waiting for the next directive I check the charts to make sure we’ve still got plenty of depth below us and no obstructions around us while Brett tries to identify the mystery of the incredibly loud squealing noise coming from then engine room. He continues to shout instructions over the noise while I make sure we keep the boat in safe waters until the problem is solved. When you are taking a “trip of a lifetime” like the one we are on, we both have to put on a lot of different hats depending on what needs to be done at any given moment. Those “hats” are this month’s Raft Up topic – as in what exactly are the “blue” and “pink” jobs on our boat?
In general, the way things are split up on Bella Vita depends on the category – be it a domestic chore, running the boat, regular maintenance or a specific project that we’ve decided needs to be done. Both of us definitely have our strengths and weaknesses, so instead of defining tasks as male or female, we try to base the jobs on what we are interested in or where our skills lie. That said I will have to admit that the majority of my jobs land on the “pink” side (cooking, provisioning and communication), while much of what Brett takes care of is clearly on the “blue” side (regular maintenance and general care of the boat). From what I’ve heard, this seems to be pretty typical with most cruising couples, though many feel weird admitting it.
What I particularly like about our arrangement is that it makes the most of our strengths. While some women might find it embarrassing that they take the majority of the “pink” jobs – as if that is an insult to all the women before us that fought for equal rights – I say, why ignore what you are interested in? It just so happens that I LOVE to cook. And part of what excites me about taking a trip like this is that I will be forced outside of my cooking “comfort zone” as the ingredients I’m used to using become impossible to find. While it can definitely be a little intimidating at first, exploring the many grocery stores and markets for items that might be fun to try is a big part of why I like to travel. As we eat at restaurants, it gives me new ideas to try on the boat. Figuring out new combinations and sourcing the flavors pushes my cooking knowledge to new limits – which is exciting and makes me feel good – plus we get to eat good food!
Brett, on the other hand, is always considering what needs to be added to the seemingly endless list of repairs or improvements for the boat. Does he enjoy every minute of those repairs? Based on the quality or quantity of swearing that goes on during some of them, I can definitively say, absolutely not! But when the leaky valve is fixed, or a great boat mystery resolved – he will sometimes beam from ear to ear. Each project successfully completed is a testament to his ability to think through a problem and affect the repair – which makes HIM feel great.
When it comes to the BIG projects, we definitely both take part – with whoever has the most knowledge taking the lead. For most boat projects, 9 times out of 10 that’s going to be Brett – but I am usually there helping him along the way and learning more about our boat every day. Can I fix all the things that Brett can? Nope. But do we often noodle through mystery issues together? You bet! Two brains are always better than one – and the more we BOTH know about our boat, the better chance we’ll have at fixing something when it breaks FAR away from anyone that we could hire at home.
So do we divvy up the “pink” and “blue” jobs in an old fashioned way? For the most part we absolutely do – but I’m okay with that because I know that if I WANTED to learn how to change the oil on the engine and take it on from that point forward, Brett would be extremely happy to teach me and give that job up. But to be honest, I don’t WANT to know how to change the oil! I’m perfectly comfortable with doing my “pink” jobs. And when it comes down to it, why make ourselves miserable by trying to force an interest in things that doesn’t exist? Isn’t this boat small enough already? ;)
Maybe it’s because we both have absolute respect for the knowledge that our partner has – and their ability to do their jobs successfully is what keeps us moving forward. Being comfortable in our pink and blue roles is what makes us a good team and it’s also the glue that holds us together when we experience the bad days that sometimes crop up.