I spend a lot of time with guys when we are sailing on these long passages. Our crew are always male, and that's fairly typical of most the boats with us. Sometimes the wife is on board and sometimes she joins up when they reach port. Subconsciously I notice that I gravitate towards women when we're on land, and it always brings me such interesting stories.
In Horta I met a woman that captain's boats and has a business teaching sailing. She is trying to empower more women to sail, and it makes you think, why do guys have all the fun? She was putting together a video, interviewing different women on boats to get their perspective and hopefully to encourage more woman to venture off the dock. I was pretty dubious when she wanted to interview me, what could I possibly have to offer? Me in front of a camera? I haven't showered, no make up, scary thought. But since I have such a hard time saying no, I reluctantly agreed. You'd be surprised what comes out of your mouth when asked pointed questions and you forget about the camera. I actually had a lot to say, I hadn't realized until that moment just how empowering this whole experience has been. She asked what I would say to another woman that was contemplating sailing off to sea, and without hesitation, I believe whole-heartedly that given the chance she should definitely set sail and open herself up to all that has to offer, I am so glad I did. It put me in the position to not only learn to trust the other crew members, but also myself. We spend our lives being care givers but often forget to take care of ourselves, sailing has given me the chance to do that.
There are some younger women crewing on boats, they don't seem to know that guys are the ones that have all the fun and they readily join in. They have many different reasons why they sign on to crew, trying to leave a smaller carbon footprint they choose to travel to see family across the ocean by sailing instead of flying, decide to take some time off from school to travel and gain sailing and life experience, and one was introduced to sailing through cancer. There is an organization in the UK that takes out cancer patients and when she was diagnosed at 15 she went sailing for the first time. She is now 23, cancer free, has her captain's license and is ready to skipper her own boat, how inspiring is that? What a great way to take control of your life when so much is out of your control. To sail away from land is truly empowering, just you, the wind and the sea.
I have always cherished the friendships I have with women, including my sisters and mom. Those connections made it much harder for me to leave home and set sail for a couple years. I miss the conversations and support I have enjoyed from those friendships, and I miss being there to support the women that are so important to me. Being away has made me realize just how lucky I am to have this wonderful support group of women back home and I am fortunate to continue to meet women in my travels that inspire me, give me new perspective, and just add so much to my life.
just a few of the faces of female sailors...