There are many people in the world who claim to have salt water running through their veins. However this weekend I had the privilige of meeting a bunch of women who truly must. Women searching for or having lived a life rich in adventure and discovery on the sea. All attending the inaugural Women Who Sail Australia seminar in Port Stephens, NSW.
To even consider myself a part of this group of women I just had to attend the recent sail seminar put together by a group of ladies in our facebook group, Women Who Sail Australia. Yep, it’s just for gals. Sorry guys, you have the cruiser’s forums. I joined this group over a year ago and it’s now one of my favourite pages. Full of amazing women who are either sailing now or want to be, or have been. They’re not all cruisers either. There are racers, weekend sailors a few power yachties and seasonal liveaboards.
These women are my tribe.
I have to say it was really refreshing to be in a group of women who understand why we do what it is that we do – living aboard a sail boat and planning to cruise. The resounding message I got from the seminar was – don’t wait, just do it! Apart from informative talks on diesel maintenance, anchoring, sail trim, man overboard procedures, the best lifejackets, cruising the Pacific and Port Stephens sea rescue we also heard from a few ladies I’ll never forget.
Take Kristi Foster for example. (read her amazing story here) I met her the night before at dinner and then listened to her talk during the seminar. This is a women who not only broke her back once, but twice! Then after 15 years in a wheelchair when she was told the medication she was on would probably kill her she happened to see some people one day loading a wheelchair onto a boat. She told herself, I can do that! Sailing enabled her to strengthen her back enough for her to be able to walk again. So inspired by the group Sailor’s with Disabilities, she now volunteers. She even did a Sydney to Hobart with them last year. Fantastic.
Another young lady who’s story really touched me was Lisa Blair. (Lisa Blair Sails the World) Lisa is campaigning to become the first woman to sail solo and unassisted around Antarctica. Her story was one of perseverance and knowing how to deal with whatever life gives you. She never gave up on her dream to sail around the world with her favourite motto being “Just do. Because the world is changed by doers.” Well she is certainly a doer! This pocket rocket has competed in a Sydney to Hobart, done a solo Tasman race and most memorably, a Clipper Round the World Yacht Race (of which her team were overall winners.) She’s a qualified MED 3 and sailboat Master Class V, and oh yes, she has a Bachelor of Education. No wallflower this gal.
Our girls were invited to attend the final lecture given by Miss Lisa Blair on the last day of the seminar as well and I can tell you they loved listening to her tell her story. Lisa is currently looking for sponsors to help her reach her goal of sailing around Antarctica, sounds like a sure bet to me so make sure you check out her page and share it.
So many great women spoke over the two days and our two girls were lucky enough to meet them all at dinner. Another young lady that stood out was Jessica Watson, who at just 16 achieved a 5 year dream to sail solo around the world. Most Australians would have to remember being glued to the screen as Jessica sailed into Sydney Harbour triumphant in May 2011 after having survived and beaten the odds for someone so young. I can’t tell you how cool it was to meet her and for the girls to meet her too. She was very generous with her time, chatting with them and graciously agreeing to have her photo taken.
Other great women we listened to were Ruth Boydell who’s witty lecture on how “blissfully unaware” she was at 17 when she first got on a boat (with no loo!) who then proceeded to sail around the world and gain qualifications I can only dream of achieving in the marine industry; Linda Frylink Anderson who wrote a book titled Sailing in My Sarong. about how her and her husband achieved their 30 year dream to sail around the world.. Jill Henry who has sailed around 60,000nm had me in tears when she recalled not only the epic journey but the spectacular conclusion of completing a circumnavigation with her husband; sailing into Sydney Harbour with flags from all the nations they visited flying high on their Buizen 48. I can imagine what that moment must have been like for them, somewhat!
These women were amazing it’s true but they weren’t the only ones that amazed me with their achievements. There were many real women I met who’ve achieved greatness through their sailing, who’ve proven that women can slot into many roles, as well as their traditional role of mothers or home makers (as challenging a role as that can be!) and to whom the salt air has truly affected. Women I aspire to be one day and whom I was proud to introduce our girls. Unschooling for them in it’s finest glory!
Our Homeschool Ahoy girls were so inspired by all these successful women that on our way home on the last day they decided to try their hand at go karting for the first time. Although things were a little slow to start with at the beginning, they soon got the hang of it and let nothing stand in their way, much like the amazing women I met this weekend.
I thank them all, and the organisers for such a great event – the inaugural event for our group and first of many I’m sure. Check out the facebook page if you are an Aussie woman who sails and join in. There’s lots to learn and be excited by! Maybe I will get to meet you at the next gathering! If you’re not from the land of Oz and still want to find your tribe, there is an international group as well, Women Who Sail.
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