Getting Comfortable at the Helm

Lynnzie Diaz- Island Jane Magazine

Welcome to the new Island Jane reading forum for the ladies of the Keys. We are a special breed; braving the fishing and boating world of men, facing the tropical elements with grace and poise, and leaving the world of malls and endless chain restaurants behind. I want to thank my friend, Dianne Scott of FishMonster Magazine for her creative, outside of the box idea of bringing us all together. Island Jane will help us all connect on many levels, whether it is about a fun kayaking trip in Summerland Key or gathering together for a walk to cure cancer. Great job, Dianne! This will be a great place for the meeting of the beautiful minds of the ladies of the islands.

Dianne has asked me to write about what I know about living in the Keys. I work in boat sales at Plantation Boat Mart in Tavernier. Yes, I work around all of those large center console fishing boats, some with four huge motors hanging off the back of them, plus all of the men that come along with them. Let me ask you…. Do you think operating boats is just for the guys? I hope not! If you can drive a car, you can navigate a boat. Really. And it is easier than you think. Most importantly, it is imperative for your safety. As a woman working in the boating industry, I interact with many women who come to the dealership with their husbands or boyfriends. When I ask them, do you like to drive the boat? Their answers usually shock me as most will giggle and tell me they don’t know the first thing about how to do anything on the boat! The first words out of my mouth are always, “What if there was an emergency and something happened to him out there? You need to know what to do!” Ladies, I don’t care if you come flying into a docking area sideways and hit the dock! You don’t have to get the boat back perfect or pretty, but I want you to know how to get back. Your lives could depend on you and your ability to get the boat and yourselves back to shore.

I know how our beloved boat husbands/captains like to be in charge when at sea. It must be an innate trait in all men. Even the meek and mild men surprise us and begin to bark out orders when they find themselves behind the helm. They do a fine job taking us out for fun and getting us back home safely. We ladies love to sun ourselves and to enjoy the ride, while the men are being men aboard their mighty ship. Therefore, we are often left out of the conversations of what is where on the vessel, let alone how to use these things. Do you know where the fire extinguisher is? What about the First Aid Kit? How about how the VHF radio works to call for help? Do you understand the navigation charts? Not every day on the water will be a perfect one. Anything can happen, mistakes are made, weather can turn against us and we are left at the mercy of Mother Nature, our captain and our boat. Or are we?

My column is going to be about sharing basic knowledge with my fellow sea gals.Even if one of the tips I write about helps one person, my job will be successful. I work with an amazing group of professional captains, marine technicians, not to mention my husband, an ex-Coast Guard Captain. I will be consulting this group that holds a plethora of knowledge to share with you any tips that can be explained in writing and photos.

I will welcome your stories and personal experiences to share with other readers of Island Jane. Do you have an idea of what island mermaids would like to or need to read about regarding boating? Please email me at
Wishing you fair winds and following seas.

Take a look around

Until we meet again, I urge you to take some time to get out onto your boat when you have time alone. Get up close and personal with your boat, look in every compartment, locate all of the emergency equipment, life jackets, etc. and make sure everything is in good shape and handy. Check your First Aid Kit and make sure it is well stocked. Become very familiar with the helm and where the electronics and radio are. The first step to learning is confronting the unknown.

Under power or sail, Lynnzie is happiest when out on the water.

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