...There were certainly women on board many sailing ships: the wives of captains, who sailed with their husbands and gave birth, raised children, occasionally acted as co-navigators (logarithmic and sight-reduction pillow talk?), enduring bad weather and long isolation. the alternative was to spend a few months with their men every couple of years. The wives of whalers always had their children spaced three or four years apart, the length of a typical whaling voyage. There were also a few female pirates -- Anne Bonny and Mary Read were two of the most famous -- courtesy of the ferocious democracy of the nautical demi-monde. Some women went to sea on merchantmen, and warships as well, by passing themselves off as men. women were also present in a differnt sense: in the affections of sailors for mothers and wives, even whores (although the shanties seem to contradict that), or in the homespun, feminine details of life aboard -- sewing of clothes or sails; body ornamentation with jewellry and tattoos; meticulous, orderly stowage (even if it's for a survival purpose, rather than its own sake); the protocols of officers' meals in the captai's cabin...
Mostly just streams of thought or snipes of 3am "inspiration"...taken to their disasterous conclusions...