First Cruise/First passage, Lessons Learned

Tale of a gale: A novice sailor’s adventure

Susan at the helm after the storm

A couple of years ago when my husband gave me a copy of Beth Leonard’s book, “Following Seas”, with the caveat that I probably shouldn’t read the first chapter, I might have known that sailing would have some adventures in store.  But our story started long before that; it really started 8 years ago on Long Island Sound.

After a mutual friend of our daughter’s decided we should meet, I was invited for a sail on Phil’s 28’ Shannon cutter, Inseparable.  Keep in mind that my sailing experience consisted of twice sitting in the cockpit of a friend’s 40’ boat on Lake Huron sipping wine and enjoying the sunshine.  I agreed to the date a bit reluctantly. Read more

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Cruising with Kids

Family health in the Pacific: The kind of story you want to hear

Rub a dub dub? Three sailors in a tub (or, more correctly, a Vanuatu stew pot)

In light of recent press coverage on the rescue of the Kaufmann family in the Pacific, I’d like to offer a very different (if less spectacular) story as a counterbalance.

My family has spent the past three years living aboard our 1981 Dufour 35, Namani, crossing the Pacific. Our son was seven when the trip started in Maine and is now ten as we wrap up our adventure in Australia. We also lived aboard previously for one year when he was three years old and we crossed the Atlantic.

The reward for a hike on Vanuatu: a waterfall swim for Hannes (age 5), Nicky (9) and Niclas (7)

Both trips have been a magical times that we wouldn’t trade for anything – not just for the travel and the sailing, but most of all for the family time we have enjoyed. Many cruising families we met along the way agree.

It’s too bad the countless happy stories don’t get the same kind of attention that the few negatives do.

So here I offer you an example of how easily a potentially serious child’s health issue was resolved by the cruising community in the Pacific. Read more

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Cruising with Kids, W&C NEWS

Cruising families rally in support of sailing with children and of the 'Rebel Heart' family

Let the naysayers know that there is no greater gift you can give your children than the beauty of the world.” Cruising Mom, Cidnie Carroll

The Kaufman family aboard SV Rebel Heart was rescued at sea this week when their youngest child became sick during passage from Mexico to the Pacific. This news has spawned a media frenzy with many people criticizing a life they know little about.

Cruisers have rallied behind the Kaufmans and the choice of the cruising life, and cruising families have sent Cidnie photos of their children living this unique and precious life on the sea.  Enjoy this window into the amazing life of cruising families.

Want to read more about cruising families: Read more

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Cruising Life

The drier side of Bonaire

Sharing lunch with the whiptail lizards

Noted for its world-class diving sites, the “drier” side of Bonaire is many times forgotten. The salt mountains of the south, the largest pink flamingo sanctuary in the Caribbean and the wild and barren Washington Slagbaai Park in the North all contribute to a side of Bonaire that some mistakenly overlook.

Though diving is what comes to mind when thinking about Bonaire, we were expecting non-diving guests and needed to plan activities that were not water-based…somewhat of a challenge for a sailboat moored next to an island…but hey, we’re good hosts! After a day of wandering around downtown Kralendijk…clean, bright and alive with shops and restaurants…we checked out possibilities for island exploration at the tourist information office, rented a van and set off to explore.

The island of Bonaire is shaped like a boomerang. The northern part is rough, hilly, arid terrain and the location of Washington Slagbaai National Park, our first day’s endeavor. Equipped with a picnic lunch and lots of water, we left mid-morning in our non-air-conditioned van and headed north along the leeward coast. The whole island is only 24 miles long by 7 miles wide max and much of the road we traveled was one-way. Our chances of getting lost were drastically diminished. Read more

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First Cruise/First passage

My first sailing experience

Trying to capture the weather and waves

No problem! It’s cool!

My naive enthusiasm and cluelessness must have been painfully obvious to my boyfriend Ken (now my husband – so you know this story has a happy ending)… He had been on the water his whole life: surfing, boating, sailing, diving, even his day job involves him being on a boat most of the time. I considered myself pretty adventurous… but in a very “landlubber” way. Muscle cars, dirt bikes, motorcycles, off roading, rock concerts, mosh pits. Pretty fearless, right? There’s no way a little sailboat ride would be a problem. Read more

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How We Learn

Why it’s better for women to take the helm - Part 2

One woman’s cruising…and learning…experience

This is the second half of a 2-part article by Daria Blackwell.
You can read part 1 here.

Daria not crabby at all sailing along on Long Island Sound.

Ratcheting up the confidence level

Fast forward to another time and life with Alex, my husband, friend and trusted partner in everything worthwhile.

Fast forward, too, to finding the courage to take the helm and learn a couple of lessons I’d like to share with you. Hopefully, it’ll help you avoid wasting decades of hard labor.

Here it is:

1) It is a lot easier than I ever imagined to handle a boat under most circumstances

2) It’s so much easier to be at the helm than

  • hoisting and trimming the sails (“so long” to the ‘winching wench’)
  • cooking under way (which is the only time I ever get seasick)
  • dropping and weighing anchor (I know it weighs a lot)
  • setting lines and fenders (and having to move them from one side to the other at the last moment when you find out they changed your slip assignment)
  • jumping onto the dock from a pitching boat and muscling the boat into the dock against wind and tides.

If I had only known, I would have taken the helm years earlier and not let go. Read more

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How We Learn

Why it’s better for women to take the helm - Part 1

One woman’s cruising…and learning…experience

This is the first half of a 2-part article by Daria Blackwell.

The author at the helm of EXPRESSO, a 41 foot German Frers-designed sloop.

There is no doubt that many women have been reluctant to take the helm. But based on personal observation, times are changing. I’ve been seeing more women at the helm, occasionally with no one else in evidence on board. That is encouraging because it means women are finally getting the confidence to go out there and sail without fear.

Handling a boat with the confidence to get yourself, your passengers, and your vessel to safe harbor is a safety consideration you can’t afford to ignore. That’s why the Suddenly Alone seminars are so popular.

But going to a seminar is not enough. You have to get the experience of actually handling the boat under challenging circumstances. I’ll let you in on a little secret. If I had known how much easier it is to be at the helm than in any other job on the boat I would have taken it up decades sooner.
Read more

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First Cruise/First passage, Relationships & Roles Aboard

My first time on a sailing boat - or why women don’t want to go sailing with their husbands

When I was told that I could easily wear my brand new Jimmy Choo stilettos
on a sailing holiday, I agreed to go

“You poor thing!”, an American girl said to me, when I told her about the conditions under which I lived on my boyfriend’s 30 foot sailing boat. And I was close to agree with her, though I felt I was coming along very well in adjusting to the life on a boat.

How it all began

In December 2010 I met Henrik, and we had not reached New Years Eve the same year, before he told me that he had a sailing boat currently moored in Mallorca in the Mediterranean, and he had bought it with the purpose of sailing around the world.

I had at this point only once before sat foot on a sailing boat. The boat had moved, as I stepped aboard, which had frightened me so much that I peed in my pants. I was 4 years old!

But this was nevertheless my only experience with boats at the age of 31. Henrik told me though about white beaches, turquoise waters, sunshine and champagne, and when I was told that I could easily wear my brand new Jimmy Choo stilettos on a sailing holiday, I agreed to go with him for a couple of months the following summer. I pictured myself on a larger yacht in a white crocheted bikini, a soft hat on a sun deck, reading fashion magazines, and drinking cocktails. I had completely bought into the idea! Read more

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Best of...

Your 5 favorite blog posts of 2013

Here are the 5 most popular Women and Cruising blog posts of 2013.
(published between December 15, 2012 and December 15, 2013.).
Have a look!

1. Sailing on, single handed

Elizabeth Tyler lost her husband this year after 24 years of sailing together. Among the many decisions she faced at this difficult time was “Shall I keep the boat?”.
Read the post.

Read more

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Cruising Life, TIPS & IDEAS

Cruising is not camping

Use of quilts as bunk dividers

My husband was pretty sure I was serious about selling up and going cruising when I returned the gold watch he had given me for our anniversary (“She’s even too crazy to be a cruiser,” I hear you gasp). However, what really convinced him was when I parted with my (shamefully vast) collection of “Cottage Living” and “Victoria” Magazines.

Yet, for a while after moving aboard, it was I who found myself questioning my own commitment, as I still continued to yearn for those cozy cottagey images. Was I really a closet landlubber masquerading in fowlies?


But then I found it. Lined up on the cruisers’ book swap shelf in a Mexican marina was a copy of “Cottage living”!! Could it be that a fellow yearner lurked among the masts and fenders? It was my epiphany. If another boater shared my love of the quaint and cozy, then there must be some link between boats and cottages.

Now, after years of living aboard and cruising I have come to see that there is such a link and that it is, in fact, vital to our emotional well-being to make our boats into homes we love and not just to regard them as floating tool sheds. Read more

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Fears and Worries, First Cruise/First passage

Adventures of a once reluctant sailor

Ready to go

In 2007, my husband Wayne and I traveled from Bayfield, Wisconsin, on Lake Superior to Punta Gorda, Florida, on our Island Packet 445 sailboat. We chose the long route, which took us through the Saint Lawrence Seaway and the Canadian Maritime provinces, a trip of about five thousand miles.

I had absolutely no intention of making the trip

it was waaayy outside my comfort zone. Read more

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Lessons Learned

Just a little heart attack

Here is a fabulously funny video by the Go Red for Women campaign about heart attacks in women. It’s not about cruising but it can help save some lives.

Prepare in advance by taking an emergency medicine course!

To learn more

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