#25 – Happy Anniversary to the Admiral’s Club!

Lisa of Lady Galadriel wrote the other day to say she’d been walking down the beach in the Bahamas and somebody said, “Hey, I know you. You’re one of the Admirals contributing to the Admiral’s Angle.” This is exactly what I had in mind when I started the column: building an awareness of the neat women out there cruising.

My contributing Admirals, listed in tiny print at the bottom of each column, don’t get near enough credit. Every so often I send out a list of subjects, and they send me back their relevant thoughts and experiences. Some of the women are excellent writers and speakers in their own right; others are quiet types whose voices might not otherwise be heard. So, as we start our third year together, I thought it might be interesting to catch up with all the original Admirals to see where they are and what they’ve been doing.

I met Kathy Parsons in the boatyards and hiking trails of Trinidad in 2000. Kathy, who is the author of Spanish for Cruisers and French for Cruisers, got me started in this when she invited Pam Wall and me to join her in presenting a seminar called Women and Cruising at Sail America’s Miami Boat Show. The idea was we would be three women with miles under our keels on different kinds of boats in different parts of the word and we would field questions from women in the audience on any subject that came to their minds to show that there are often multiple ways things can be done. A stimulating experience for all, that seminar was the genesis of this column, and we three continue to do Women & Cruising seminars at boat shows across the country when cruising schedules allow.

When I first started the Admiral’s Angle, Kathy was cruising with her partner Bill aboard Hale Kai, a Down East 38 in the southern Caribbean. Since then they’ve sailed back up the Caribbean chain, through the Bahamas to Annapolis, where the boat has been for sale, while they think about a catamaran. This past year (and between boat shows) Kathy and Bill spent three months living in and traveling around Buenos Aires. Wherever she is, Kathy continues, via Skype, to be the biggest supporter and most stalwart sounding board for the column as it evolves.

Pam Wall of Kandarik is also a well-known figure at boat shows, where she presents seminars like “A Family Sails Around the World” and “Outfitting for Bluewater Cruising.” When Pam and her family of four returned to the US from their circumnavigation, she began working at West Marine in Ft. Lauderdale and is currently their Outfitting Manager. These days Pam combines sailing and working, recently sailing their boat across the Atlantic to Portugal and back .

Ellen Sanpere of Cayenne III is a familiar name to readers of Latitudes & Attitudes. A fine writer in her own right, I have been very grateful for her insights to Admiral’s Angle. Ellen and her husband Tony have “raced their home” — a Mooring 51 – at races throughout the Caribbean for years, but they’d now like to settle in a condo in St. Croix and, after Cayenne III sells, keep a smaller boat for racing only.

Similarly Mary Heckrotte of the Westerly 36 Camryka and her husband Carl have slowed down enough to build a retirement home in Bocas del Toro, Panama. “The day is coming when we will have to live in a house,” says Mary, “and I’ll go kicking and screaming all the way. We’ve been in Bocas for two years already and I miss cruising immensely, can hardly wait to get moving again, and dread the day when we cannot.”

Mary Verlaque of I Wanda, a Camper Nicholson 40, with her husband Christian was my Med connection when the column started, but since then they have brought the boat back to the US, cruised Maine and the East Coast, and are currently in St. Mary’s, Georgia embarking on a refit. Exit Only, the Privilege 39 that carried Donna Abbot and her family around the world is undergoing refit in Ft. Lauderdale while the family replenishes the cruising kitty and completes work on a video project of their circumnavigation.

My first single-hander was Debbie Leisure of Illusions, an Island Packet 29. Debbie’s husband John died suddenly in Carriacou way too early in their dream cruise, leaving Debbie alone with the boat. Determined to carry on, Debbie has been educating herself on all the systems she’d left up to her husband. This past year she single-handed the boat up the chain to Puerto Rico and will arrive back in the southeast US this summer.

Don and I met Lisa and Dennis Schofield of Lady Galadriel in Mexico where we became fast friends exploring the rich waters of the Sea of Cortez. By the time I started the column, Lisa and Dennis had reached Annapolis where they stopped to refit and recharge the cruising kitty by working for West Marine. During their two winters there, Lisa and Dennis became known for their own seminars, including, “First Time Cruisers: Things They Never Tell You!” Since then they have cruised north to Maine and back down to the Bahamas. They plan another season in the Bahamas next year.

Judy Knape of Ursa Minor and I go way back to our charter days in the Virgin Islands. Judy, a well-known captain and chef in the VI fleet, worked with me aboard my charter boat Whisper for two and a half years, where we were secure enough to wear T-shirts that said Whisper – 300 tons of (woman) Captain! Since the beginning of the column, Judy and her husband Bryan retired from chartering and left the Virgins to cruise their Saga 43 in the South Pacific. They spent last cyclone season in the Marshall Islands (where Judy once practiced law for five years), and there is hope we will cross paths here in Fiji in the next few months.

Vicki Juvrud was another colleague for my charter days. Vicki was cruising the remote areas of Papua New Guinea aboard the 84’ Palmer Johnson Firebird when I started the column, but, shortly after, she and her husband Jim put the boat up for sale in Australia and ended up in Hawaii where they’ve built a house and opened a shop to sell artifacts they collected while cruising.

Jane Lothrop of the Corbin 39 Cormorant was in New Zealand when the column started (although I first met her in Trinidad) and I made instant friends with Kathy Blanding of Sunflower, a Norseman 440, in Niuatoputapu, Tonga several years ago Last year, both Jane and Kathy (and their husbands!) sailed from Australia to Indonesia in the Darwin-Kupang Rally.

These are the dozen women who helped me get Admiral’s Angle off to its great start. I guess it is not surprising, in looking for Admirals with lots of experience, that two years later a few of them might be slowing down. The good news is I have many more women joining our “Admirals’ Club”, some referred by other Admirals, some I’ve met through SSCA, and, of course, many I’ve met in my own cruising in the South Pacific, like New Zealander Jane Hockley of Lionheart and intrepid Sheri Schneider of Procyon, with both of whom we’ll be traveling westward this season.

If you think you qualify as an Admiral and would like to put your two cents in, email me with your particulars at admiralsangle@yahoo.com and I’ll add you to the list. And while you’re online, check out the great new website — www.womenandcruising.com. – Kathy, Pam and I have put together as an adjunct to our seminars that’s chock full of info for women cruising anywhere.

Other contributing Admirals : In the Med: Katherine Briggs, Sangaris; Bev Feiges, Cloverleaf; Lorraine Bramble, Twist of Fate; In the Caribbean: Maribel Penichet, Paper Moon; Cindi Blondin, Tashmoo; Jean Service, Jean Marie; Yvonne Katchor, Australia 31; and in the Pacific: Linda Morgenstern, Serafin; Marjetka, Little Mermaid.

This article was published in the August 2008 issue of Latitudes and Attitudes.

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