Divisions of Labor: Who Does What on Board?

The ladies, they fix the head while men are baking bread
and women deal with feds but guys are making beds
and everyone sews...

(with sincerest apologies to Cole Porter's, Anything Goes

Oh, these modren times we live in! On a boat, traditional gender roles get tossed right out the porthole...or do they?

This was a Raft-UP topic in January 2013.

Dividing some tasks along traditional gender lines worked out well for Dana (Northfork), to her surprise.

Dividing tasks up based on interests and strengths led Stacey (S/V Bella Vita) to think about the women who had gone before her fighting for equal rights, as she acknowledged that she really liked a lot of "pink" tasks.

Steph (Norna's News) jokes that the division of labor on her boat has probably put women's causes back a few years.

And Diane (Ceilydh Sets Sail) found the pink/blue division a matter of simple practicality while resisting the 1950s value judgements that went along with it.

We should have outgrown this whole conversation a long time ago, says Behan (Sailing with Totem).

At sea, there are no gender roles, there are just tasks that need doing (Jaye, Life Afloat).

Lynn (s/v Celebration) and husband Steve work well together and try to exchange roles, but he's still the better mechanic.

We learn about a "black" job when we hear both the pink and blue points of view from PacificSailors.

Much of their division of labor feels old-school, but the plumbing system is hers (Karen, Toast Floats).

It's not gender or even skill, but simply "who hates this job less" that determines division of labor for Ean (more JOY everywhere!).

Livia, (SV Estrellita 5.10b), speculates that a lot of her frustration is not with the jobs as much as the expectations.

Great humor in this post by Kat (SV Island Bound).

And Kyra (SV Nyon) pushes back against the stereotype.

What happens when women do blue jobs?  Sabrina  (Wildcat Sailorgirl) explores being pink in a primarily blue world.

Barb, Harts At Sea, writes about getting her hands dirty - and worse - while pulling wire.

Tammy, Things we did today, lists some criteria by which jobs are apportioned on her boat.

It might be a generational thing, says Michael (Log of s/v Del Viento).

And if you're a woman singlehander and new liveaboard, ALL the jobs are pink. (Suzanne, Orbis Non Sufficit)

This is a series of three posts from the awesome Women and Cruising website.

The SailNet forum recently hosted a thread that discussed Pink/Blue jobs and expectations.

Newly added posts:

Laurie commented that she used to joke that "sailing is easy, I just drink wine while he drives the boat!". Well, all that changed when he went back to fill the kitty and she singlehanded for several months this past summer, prompting her to write a

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  1. I don't know if this is specifically "pink and blue" but it's sort of along those lines.

    Fair Winds
    s/v Honey Ryder Caliber 40 LRC

  2. I love the old picture of the sailor "girls"! Live link added above.

  3. Sabrina, I think your post is exactly on point. There was an interesting conversation on SailNet recently on the same topic. What I found odd was that two younger women, both serious cruisers, reported the same kind of disrespect (or at least, automatic wrong assumptions about their competence) that you mentioned. I just haven't had that experience. Is it because I'm older? Different cruising area? If we could figure out what I'm doing "right" it could help us all. the SailNet thread is here: http://www.sailnet.com/forums/hersailnet/94977-unleashing-womens-potential-blue-water-sailing.html

  4. Back in 2010 as we were getting ready to sail farther south, I wrote a post about pink jobs and blue jobs aboard La Luna. http://hartsatsea.typepad.com/hartsatsea/2010/11/pink-jobs-blue-jobs-dirty-jobs-boat-jobs.html

  5. Thanx Barb, enjoyed your sense of humor. Off to read more of your blog!

  6. For better or worse, I don't have anyone to divide the labor with, so all jobs on my boat are pink, or perhaps purple.


  7. I used to joke that "sailing is easy, I just drink wine while he drives the boat!".

    Well, all that changed when he went back to fill the kitty and I singlehanded for several months this past summer: http://www.somanybeaches.com/2012/08/10/a-love-letter-to-my-captain/

  8. Thanx Laurie! It struck me from your story that while it's great to trade jobs from time to time, it's also insightful when you recognize just how important those support tasks are (your note about missing your own cooking, for example).