To pee or not to pee? That’s the question: • Live Sail Die
Being a woman in sailing comes with many obstacles. I’m sure the minute I say that you can immediately think of dozens of situations in your sailing career that have been made more difficult because you’re a woman. However, when I think about how I fight as a woman in sailing, one important thing comes to mind…PEEING.
Peeing on the go as a woman is extremely inconvenient – period. Oh for being a boy and for it to be totally socially acceptable to whip him behind a tree, or “check the depth” at the back of the boat.
Imagine walking on the beach and seeing a lady, pants around her ankles, squatting next to rocks. You’d be thinking, “what’s wrong with her, couldn’t she go down the toilet, or at least get in the water”, but most of us wouldn’t see any problem if it was a man.
When it comes to sailing or being on a small boat with no toilet, the unwritten rule is you hold on, or if you can’t, you face the embarrassment of hanging your bare ass to the side for all to see, while balancing precariously trying to get a minimum of urine on your legs and pants, then enjoying the feeling of pulling your pants up without wiping…YUM.
This problem only really came to my attention last year when I spent a lot more time on media boats and started boats with people I don’t know too much to watch regattas of sailing, and more recently on board the BW40 carbon racing machine, Anarchie.
Now, I’m a resilient person and not someone who usually backs down from a challenge, but that’s where I draw the line. So I had to find my own solution to the problem… Dehydration, healthy, I know…
On the day of my sailing adventure, minimal drinking is allowed, and under no circumstances am I allowed to drink less than an hour before leaving the dock. I also go through the three-step pee routine, where I pee the very last thing before I leave the house, as soon as I get to the marina, and then one very last time before I leave. This process ensures that nothing is ever left in the tank or tubes.
There are three main browsing scenarios that come to mind that don’t correlate with the fact that I might need to go to the bathroom at some point during the day.
As many of you know, I recently returned from IQFoil Europeans on Lake Garda in Italy, where I spent a lot of time aboard the Australian VSR with Olympic windfoiling coach Arthur Brett affectionately known as name of AB. Now AB and I would be on the water for over 6 hours watching the foilers every day, and while AB was an awesome guy, I wasn’t about to get it all out in front of him or the 500 competitors and the support team on the race course. So my dehydration strategy had to be implemented that week.
Although strangely I didn’t see any problem with it when he needed to take a pee break and get out the back of the boat, but that’s how it is I guess.
I had never had to stick to my dehydration rule book for such a long time before, and there were definitely side effects. Although it’s nothing that can’t be solved by some special Italian painkillers and an ice cream on the ground.
The first time I went sailing on the Anarchy, thank goodness I hadn’t had a lot of water to drink that day, as I realized very quickly that peeing just wasn’t an option. Let’s just say the bucket situation on board is less than ideal. Apparently the way the girls on board are supposed to do it is to drop their pants on the scoop in the back, hang their butts down and do their business. It seems relatively simple… NO. Now add the fact that there are 10 other people on board to whom you must announce what you are doing, the fact that you are heeling just above and moving at over 15 knots, and the fact that you must have someone watching you to make sure you don’t fall overboard. Put it all together and you basically have my worst nightmare!!!
Another example was when I was covering a top Olympic class regatta here in Auckland and was placed aboard the start boat for a three day duration. Again thank goodness I hadn’t had a lot of water to drink before heading out for the day, as this time there was a toilet… There was just no flushing!!! Now this particular regatta the wind blew her tits the whole time plus it was from the north so if you sail the Waitamata you know that means you are in for a bumpy ride and I was too. Being the only woman on board and the only person under 60 only made the situation even more uncomfortable… So I went back to the dehydration plan.
Now, if you’re a woman who has no problem getting out of a boat in any scenario, with any company, I really take my hat off to you. It takes serious courage. I think my insecurities all come from this taboo that seems to surround women’s bodies, normal daily bodily functions and the fact that sailing is truly a man’s world. Women already feel like a burden on board, so why would I want to be even more inconvenient by making everyone slow down or stop what they’re doing so I can let go of my water tanks.
I have been very lucky to sail and be on boats with amazing men who wholeheartedly respect women in sailing. As well as phenomenal women who don’t care what everyone else thinks and are truly paving the way for the next generation of girls.
I wrote this article with the purpose of telling you how uncomfortable it is for women to pee on boats and what I have to go through to prevent this from happening. But as I was writing, I realized that maybe it was me… Maybe I’m the problem.
So I either have to inhale and feel uncomfortable, or do something and not get dehydrated to avoid disturbing the men on board. From now on, I have to talk and let the men know that I have to go, because if I know anything about men, it’s this… If something bothers a man enough, it will work out. All of a sudden, they’ll want to make sure a functional head is on board for all those times when one needs to expel unwanted bodily waste.
By simply speaking up, at least, I will make some awareness. And if I have to fly a few fleets before I get somewhere, so be it.
So let’s go back to the initial questions, to pee or not to pee…
Always pee. It’s better outside than inside!