(Today’s topic is yelling, and why it’s a really bad idea aboard a cruising boat. It’s kind of a heavy, not funny post, but I hope you’ll bear with me. I think it’s important.)
There is only one acceptable reason for yelling on a boat.
Because someone can’t hear you over the ambient noise.
Really, it is that simple. And you may notice that I said “…for yelling on a boat”, not “…for yelling at someone on a boat.” That’s because there is NO reason – no justification possible – for yelling AT someone on a boat. Boats aren’t big enough to safely contain and then dissipate that kind of energy.
But does it happen? Of course it does. Things get tense and difficult and scary, and voices rise in pitch and volume until the folks aboard are, in fact, yelling. And everyone else in the anchorage can hear every regrettable word that’s said, and make their judgements based on that miniscule slice of personal interaction between crewmates.
I can’t think of a single cruising how-to book I’ve seen that doesn’t include at least a paragraph on the subject of communication aboard and relationships aboard, and many have a whole chapter. Some even go into the details of deciding if you should allow yourself to be alone on a boat with this guy or gal. There’s a thriving business being created – complete with Facebook page (Sailing into Happily Ever After-for Couples) – to help people learn how to get along well enough to go cruising.
Don’t laugh. According to my own, painstakingly intense 3 minutes of research, “He/She turns into an evil Captain Bligh the minute we step on board!” accounts for a regrettably large number of well-equipped cruising boats AND wedding rings for sale on the used market.
And don’t even begin to think; “It’s all this stress on land that makes him yell. Once we get away on our cruise, he’ll be a changed man…”
No, he won’t. And you (I’m speaking to the ladies now) will be stuck on a boat with him, miles from anyone and anywhere, wondering what the hell you’re going to do now.
You’ll have noticed that suddenly I switched to the masculine pronoun to describe the yeller, and of course there’s a reason for that: It’s usually him. She may yell back, or she may not, but the vast majority of yellers are male.
I’m not sure why that is – why men as a group (and hey, I’m a man too) are so poorly trained in the ways of human behavior that they think yelling at someone is going to make them eager to help out and delighted to spend time with the guy who’s acting like an enraged rhino. Pretty stupid. And counter-productive.
So here’s the take-away I hope you take away:
First, an unhappy, semi-functional relationship on land is going to become a miserable, non-functional and possibly dangerous relationship away from it. Fix (or replace) the relationship, THEN go cruising.
Second, Yelling at someone as a way of doing anything besides overcoming ambient noise is unacceptable behavior. The yeller has to learn how to control the emotion of the moment if they are to communicate effectively.
Finally, Captain Bligh has no place on any cruising boat. None. They don’t build boats that big.