Tuesday, January 24, 2023

“Below deck” mansplaining? Captain Sandy Yawn Stands Firm – “We’re Not Moving”

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Under deck offered a little insight into what Captain Sandy Yawn has to do with being a captain in a male-dominated profession.

Deckhand Ben Willoughby had to wake Captain Sandy when a neighboring yacht suggested they move, fearing their anchors might pull in the middle of the night. Although the wind posed no immediate threat, the neighboring island’s male captain insisted that Captain Sandy move their ship.

She stood her ground. “Yes, I understand,” she radioed the other captain. “We’re not moving. We are staying here. We also have guests on board. And we will stand by.”

The male captain expressed his disappointment. But Captain Sandy said his position was self-evident. “As a woman in this industry, I’ve always had the challenges of men,” she explained in a confessional. “Yes, I had many men who supported me. But this is a very clear case of mansplaining.”

Captain Sandy told Ben if the wind picks up they’ll start their engines and maneuver. Of course, the evening turned out to be a total nothing burger. Nobody had to move and the winds stayed below 6 knots.

Captain Sandy spoke about the challenges in the industry and how she had to work harder as a captain. Indeed when she joined Below deck Mediterranean In Season 2, Chef Adam Glick asked if she was the first mate. Without skipping a beat, she told him that she was the captain of the ship.

He then joked that he thought she was the chief stew. “Female captains are rare,” she said in one Below Deck Med Season 2 Confessional. “So that happens a lot. People have a hard time believing that a woman could actually drive a boat, which I find funny.”

She shared that she was a yacht captain for nearly 30 years, “cruising the boat from the Bahamas, New England, the western Mediterranean, the eastern Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.”

Captain Sandy said she was treated like a second-class citizen with her male crew while navigating the Red Sea – even as a captain. “There was no eye contact or chatting with me like there was with my male crew,” she wrote in her book, Be the Calm or Be the Storm: Leadership Lessons from a Woman at the Helm.

“I was used to being a rarity in my line of work, confident in my education and my abilities, I refused to take it personally,” she reflected.

Later in her book, Captain Sandy recalled that male captains seem to get a quicker response than female captains when radioing a question. “That annoyed me,” she admitted. Her goal is to get more women into the maritime industry, hopefully one day eradicating gender stereotypes.

Captain Sandy’s presence Under deck has inspired women. Deckhand Katie Glaser was thrilled to have a female captain leading the team. Plus, Boatswain Malia White out Below Deck Med said Captain Sandy was the reason she pursued her career in yachting.

“I wasn’t sailing when I was cast on the show,” she said of her Total Ship Show podcast. “I was cast as an all green crew member. And by green I mean I’ve never set foot on a yacht before.”

“I knew how to tie a line. And I knew what a cleat was, but I’d never… I hadn’t even seen a yacht!” she said. “So my very first boat was the one I filmed my first season. From then on I tried to be a deckhand and I remember telling Captain Sandy I’ll probably be teaching diving again. And she said, ‘No. You have that.’”

“And I was like, you know what? I can try,” she said. “And that was my introduction to sailing. I’ve said that before. I don’t know if I would have stayed with sailing if I hadn’t had a captain from the start. So I was very fortunate that my entry into sailing was definitely not the norm.”

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