All-women course on diesel mechanics

Spotted on the docks this summer was a man wearing a T-shirtemblazoned with the following words: "If a man speaks at sea and no woman is there to hear him, is he still wrong?"

The wearer, who was fiddling with dock lines on his boat, apparently about to get underway, had a guilty look on his face, as if he knew that once he headed for sea he would inevitably be living up to the implied assertion on his shirt.

Do men have a tendency to be know-it-alls? That’s the reputation. Combine that with the widely held belief that sailors are the most opinionated know-it-alls, and you have a real problem: an insufferable bunch.

Which is one reason, perhaps, that the National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) is offering several women-only seminars on diesel mechanics. The courses, which are being offered this fall and winter in three different locations, covers diesel troubleshooting and basic engine service. (All courses are being taught by a man, however: Larry Berlin of Mack Boring.)

"We want to give women the confidence, especially with things mechanical, to know some basic skills on boats. This helps us deal with the traditional division of labor. We’re trying to get women out of the galley if they want to be," said Lisa Rizzio, executive director of NWSA in Fort Myers, Fla. "But we also attract women to these courses who are not in partnerships. They go boating with friends and want to feel more self-sufficient."

An estimated 60 percent of the seminar is spent performing and cultivating hands-on skills with demonstration engines. The first day covers basic diesel mechanics and maintenance, and the second day covers cooling, fuel, electrical and lubrication systems.

The courses are offered through Mack Boring facilities on the following dates: Nov. 3 and 4, 2001, in Union, N.J.; Feb. 23 and 24, 2002, in Buffalo Grove, Ill.; and March 16 and 17, 2002, in Middleboro, Mass. Contact NWSA for more information: 800-566-6972.

For a co-ed diesel seminar experience with veteran instructor Chuck Husick, contact the Ocean Navigator School of Seamanship, either online or by phone: or 207-236-7014.

By Ocean Navigator