Women on the Water Week learning knots. Photo by Pam Wall
Women on the Water Week learning knots. Photo by Pam Wall

What Women Want

I have just returned from the Annapolis Spring Boat Show. This boat show coincides with the unique Cruiser’s University, a series of seminars presented during the four day boat show. Attendees signed up for a myriad of presentations all sailors would find of interest. At this show I gave a two day intensive course just for cruising women.

I have been giving this two day women’s event for three years along with my partners Kathy Parsons, well known author of “Spanish for Cruisers” and “French for Cruisers,” and Beth Leonard, an icon in the cruising community with her “The Voyager’s Handbook,” a book everyone should have aboard their boats. Let’s face it, women learn in a different way. And it takes another woman to understand this. So many women have been left out of what is considered “a man’s sport.” Now women across the country want to become just as involved as any male sailing enthusiast!

There are many good websites and Facebook pages now that gear themselves toward women in the sailing community. On Facebook, women find understanding in the “Women Who Sail” group and the active and very informative website “Women and Cruising.” There are many other sites where women can share experiences and ask each other questions. But, what a lot of women need is hands on sailing experience and first hand female sailing instruction to really enjoy and embrace the sailing experience.

Another seminar Kathy and I, along with Gwen Hamlin and Sally-Christine Rodgers, have been giving at boat shows is called “Women and Cruising.” Each seminar is unique with no two alike. We ask the attendees to supply us questions we can answer for them. No question is a bad question. It’s amazing how women react and feel akin to one another from the questions and answers that come from these seminars. The seminars began as women only however today we allow men to participate in hopes they will learn what women really think about. It is a win/win presentation.

In January I gave a daylong seminar at the Seattle Boat Show entitled “Empowering the First Mate.” This full day seminar was a classroom for hands on necessities for being an empowered first mate. From tying a boat properly to a dock to how to live aboard comfortably, the day was all about self knowledge to help make the attendees good sailors who enjoy themselves on their boats.

For many years the lovely Bitter End Yacht Club on Gorda Sound in the British Virgin Islands has hosted the fun and educational “Women on the Water Week.” This “WOW” week has been very popular with women who want to learn how to sail from another women. It also helps that the Bitter End Yacht Club is a very special tropical paradise with, great food, a wonderful staff, and literally the unlimited use of dozens of sailing craft. Later in 2015 I’m hoping to organize another “Women on the Water Week” for those women who want first hand instruction to get familiar and comfortable with sailing a boat and who simply want to become better sailors. I can truthfully say that all the women who attend this week of instruction, relaxation and timeless beauty, all know they have become empowered to control and happily sail a boat!  Wow, what a great feeling that is!

There are other sailing schools just for women right here in the United States. I recommend Steve and Doris Colgate’s Offshore Sailing School in Florida which Doris began many years ago. The best way to become comfortable and knowledgeable aboard a sailing boat is go out there and learn from another woman!!! Guaranteed to make you a happy sailor!

If you want to read some great books written by women sailors look up Ellen MacArthur, Naomi James, Kay Cotte, and Tania Aebi. You can read about their experiences and how they learned to sail!

Women want to be with their partners, to understand what is happening while sailing, and become comfortable with their own knowledge and joy of sailing. Women want to enjoy sharing the responsibilities of sailing a boat. Too often you see a woman afraid and uncomfortable. Let’s change all that and help them be thrilled to be sailing and as happy and content at sea as on land.

I  hope we have helped other women to find their niches and learn about sailing. After all there is “nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats” as Ratty says in the “Wind in the Willows.” For me it has become the most wonderful lifestyle I could have ever imagined.

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