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Entries in women (10)


Why I started Women Who Sail

We kind of have this thing for doing crazy stuff together. Here: skydiving for Eric's 30th.

I had never been sailing before I met Eric but he pretty much let me know from the moment we started dating that he wanted to sail around the world. I signed on immediately because I love adventure and I love to travel (and I was really into him too).

Since I had no experience sailing I began to read as much as I could about the sailing and cruising lifestyle and was drawn over and over to books written by women and about the female experience on the water.  I’m a Gemini. I’m a communicator. I flourish when I can talk to, listen to, and share with other people, especially other women. I started looking online for places to ask questions about everything that was new to me about owning a boat, living on the water, and sailing.

Liveaboard life in San Diego, circa April 2009.

Eric joined a very prominent sailing forum, Cruisers Forum (CF) before me, but I soon joined too and hoped that I could use the site to meet new people, ask my questions, and find out interesting things about this lifestyle I had signed up for.

And then the infamous Jewelry Thread happened. In 2009 I posted a question about how to store jewelry on a boat in the ‘Women Afloat’ sub-forum (read the whole thread here). While I did receive many helpful replies, I also received many mean-spirited ones as well. Several of my previous posts in the forum had also been answered rudely and I got upset. It seemed like even if I limited my posting to the ‘Women’s section’ of the forum, I would still get responses from men that were often grumpy or outright disrespectful. Reponses that reflected bitterly on what their ex-wives would do, or that pontificated on why women did things wrong, or didn’t do things the right way. On the one hand my posting would be met with sentiments like, “Yay, another woman interested in boating,” to be then countered by someone else demeaning how little women (or I knew) about boating in the first place.

It was frustrating.

I was no noob to the internet. I was well-versed in message boards and their super fun (<------sarcasm) vetting process of new members. You’d sign up and spend your first 1,000 posts being told to “Die, fag.” Or, “Just shut the fuck up.” Or, repeated replies to any of your posts or comments with, “SHOW US YOUR TITS.”  Aww yes, the “joys” of internet message boards.

Perhaps it was naïve of me then, to think that I could join a topic specific message board like Cruiser’s Forum and think I could skip some of the internet assholes out there. Lots of people on CF sent me private messages or just told me in my threads not to let other posters “get to me,” and even though I started liberally using the ‘ignore’ function, get to me they did. Was it so naïve to think that I could expect to find a place where people were friendly on the internet? Where people were respectful? And helpful? I refused to think it was just wishful thinking.

Hanging out with the "infamous" crew of Bumfuzzle. January 2013.

If you follow my blog, then you’ll probably have seen me linking to my friends Ali and Pat on Bumfuzzle. I first found out about them from a thread that was bashing them on Cruisers Forum. Eric was reading me the thread and I kept thinking, why does everybody hate these people? They sound cool. So I went to their blog and started following their adventure. We eventually met in real life and are now friends and anybody who hates on Bumfuzzle has got to just be envious of their lifestyle. Ali and Pat are perfectly lovely. I guess I should say thanks to CF for introducing me to them in the first place, but how sad that I had to find out about them in a rant thread.

Our first boat baby. Bathing on board circa September 2010.

After continued, repeated frustrations with the less than helpful posters on CF I gave up on posting there and grew restless. I had started to read lots of blogs of sailing families and Eric and I were now not only living on our sail boat but starting a family of our own too. I desperately wanted to connect with other women who had been pregnant on boats and who had, or were currently raising children onboard. Some mamas reached out to me after finding our blog; that is how I met Cindy on Zach Aboard. I followed a group of bloggers, including the families of Ceilydh, Totem, ForgeOver, and Wonder Time as they left the US, crossed the Pacific, and then headed to New Zealand and Australia. I began to be Facebook friends with other sailing women, and slowly had online links to many families out there cruising.

Eric and I tried to start our own online community; it was called The Keel. The idea was to create a sailing message board that was useful, helpful, and friendly (to everyone). The Keel was up for a few months, and we met some awesome friends through it, like my doula, Amanda, and my friend Victoria, but we couldn’t get a lot of momentum and found that once members on the Keel friended each other on Facebook they did most of their follow up communicating through Facebook instead of the message board.

While Facebook is not a perfect platform, many, many, many people use it. And that is how I came to start the Facebook group Women Who Sail. I started the group in December of 2011 and now almost two years later there are over 900 members. We welcome any woman who is interested in sailing, who is currently sailing, or living aboard, or used to live aboard, who is on a motor vessel or a sailboat, or is just dreaming about it all.

The mission statement of the group states emphatically that the group is a supportive one. We strive to respect other people in the group and this is sometimes hard to enforce. There are the differences of politics, religion, and oh, sailing :)  While we have members from all over the world, the bulk of our members are Americans and any American knows that political and religious ties are beyond strained in our country right now. These differences run DEEP. We work hard to make sure that discussions about hot button topics are not stopped, but that they remain respectful. We aren’t always successful. We aren’t always perfect, but I have been told over and over, how much the women in the group appreciate the little, safe corner of the internet that we have created with Women Who Sail. I often think of what Lincoln said and how it rings true today as well, “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

It hasn’t personally been easy to admin the group sometimes. I am passionate about my beliefs and being an admin has taught me to often put my money where my mouth is when it comes to respecting people whose opinions are different than my own. It has been a good learning process. There are lots and lots of places where people can go online to be assholes to one another. There aren’t that many where the rules of respect and civility are expected to be upheld.

I’m not the only who has noticed that there is something about the internet that makes people forget about being kind to one another. Case in point: Popular Science is no longer allowing comments on their online news articles. GoodReads is deleting comments that personally attack authors, instead of the authors’ works, and YouTube is currently requiring people to leave comments under their (:gasp:) REAL NAME!!  What is it that makes so many people turn into vile human beings when they can hide behind a screen?


Moving on!

If you are a woman, and you want to join Women Who Sail, you can find the link here. We’d love to have you. I must also add a huge thanks to the women who help admin the group. I could never do it alone. Devi, Behan, Cidnie, and Laurie, thank you so much for being awesome admins.

I also want to add that Cruisers Forum has gotten a LOT better about not allowing people to be total jerks to one another when they post. Eric finds the forum very useful and gets a lot of enjoyment out of it, but I still have found it hard to reengage over there, especially when I have the awesome support and connection of Women Who Sail.

And while I don’t think I’ll post this in the original thread that started it all for me on CF, I finally answered my own question about how I store jewelry on board. So far, it is working like a charm.



Hanging Locker (where to put your clothes)

After re-reading some of my previous posts about storing clothes I think a more apt title for this post should be: How Much I've Changed Since Moving Aboard. But let me get back to that in a second.

I took a picture of our hanging locker today to show our new storage system. We had been hanging clothes but it seemed like such a waste of space. I trekked to Ikea and bought two hanging shelves. I cut out the bottom two shelves on each one so they would fit into the locker and voila! More space.

Eric and I have all our hanging shirts (and for me dresses) up in our storage locker at the marina. All of those items will get tossed except for one or two that we'll fold up when we go sailing. They are pretty much for our work lives right now and we won't need them sailing so we've decided to not keep them on the boat.

I hung some hooks on the right wall so we could easily store and access our life jackets.

Here's the left side. I was able to simply lay Eric's ties along the top of his shelf and not have to worry about hanging them.

I realized we needed more storage space for clothes when Eric started keeping his clothes in the seaberth instead of rolled and neatly tucked into his side of the V-berth cabinets. The problem with those cabinets is they are tiny. Eric's clothes are so big that even rolled up nicely they don't all fit in the space allotted for him in the V-berth. He needed a roomy space to put his jeans, sweats and shorts and these hanging shelves worked very nicely.

Likewise for me I found it very inconvenient to store my clothes in the sliding shelves of the V-berth. The shelves are angled on the interior and no matter how nicely I stacked the clothes they would slide down the back wall and get stuck whenever I opened the sliding doors. Now I use my hanging shelf for my shorts, skirts, yoga clothes, and pajamas. I still have a lot of room in both of my top shelves (on the right side), so I used the bottom shelf to store our rain jackets and sun shirts. We both still use the tops of the V-berth shelves and the sliding V-berth shelves for our t-shirts, socks and underclothes.

Now, why do I think I should call this post How Much I've Changed Since Moving Aboard? Take a peak at this post from my blog written on July 7, 2007. It was our 13th day of living aboard and while the photos are illustrative (and show how we used to use the hanging locker and how we have kept and still keep clothes in the V-berth), it's my attitude that is so surprising. I was genuinely embarrassed at how I had pared my clothes down for living aboard. The funny part? I have since gotten rid of at least 85% of the clothes pictured in that post. Ha ha! Who knew how drastically I would change my view on clothing once aboard?


You can see some of my progress in the post I wrote last April about liveaboard clothes for sailing women. There is much more emphasis on functionality, while, of course, still trying to look good. I'm impressed with how far I've come. Instead of window shopping at stores like JCrew for clothes that are adorable but totally not realistic for living on a boat, I'm more interested in the sun shirts available at REI and the shirts at Target that don't have to be ironed but are still decent enough to be worn to work Monday-Friday.

Life aboard continues to re-shape my values and the emphasis I put on material things. While I still need quality clothes, I don't need that many and while I still want to look good for both myself and for Eric (have to keep that magic alive), I feel more confident in the choices I make in clothing for the liveaboard lifestyle and that confidence rubs off on how I look and feel.



Two More Live Aboard/Sailing Blogs to Enjoy

I've really been enjoying both of these blogs lately: Ceilydh Sets Sail and Zach Aboard. The blog authors are friends of each other and both live on their boats.

The crew on Ceilydh are currently cruising and it's fun to read up on their adventures. This recent post on how to distinguish between a homeless person and a cruiser made me think of the post I wrote about cute, functional sailing/live aboard clothes for women. As the blog mentions, it is so easy to let yourself go as a cruiser/live aboard.

Cindy writes about her adventures living aboard with her son and husband on Zach Aboard. Eric and I plan to live aboard with our future children, so I'm always fascinated to read about her daily life doing it (the crew of Ceilydh also cruise with their daughter.)  Cindy recently wrote a guest post about cleaning on a sailboat on www.domesticdork.com. If you're interested in yet another view of what it's like to live aboard, I'd suggest checking out her post here.


Liveaboard Clothes for Sailing Women - Cute and Functional

When we first moved aboard I had a tough time transitioning from "land" clothes to "boat" clothes.

It is very possible that other women had no issue with this, but for those of you who did, here's what I figured out. I had to downsize my wardrobe significantly for starters and just that process was painful. Little did I know at the time, but by the end of the first year aboard I would throw out 50% of the clothes that I brought with me.  I quickly realized that ironing was a pain the rear end. We didn't want to have an iron on the boat so I'd have to go up and use the marina's, but people would use our iron without permission and damage it. We would also have to iron around people doing their laundry or grabbing a cup of coffee in the marina laundry room.  Soon all clothes that needed to be ironed were thrown out. Now my work outfits consist of clothes that do not need to be ironed. They're harder to find (and still look professional), but it can be done!

The pictures above and below are examples. A cute, informal shirt that doesn't need to be ironed, but is appropriate for work. A matching pair of earrings and, you can't see them, but a more formal pair of crocs. It's all about the crocs, all the time :)

Another thing that troubled me was how often I was in clothes that were getting dirty. On land I had one pair of pants for painting or doing any type of dirty work, but on board, I was constantly working on things that would and could ruin my clothes. I had to eventually identify jeans I liked that I was willing to get dirty in, and reserve pairs that were only for work. I also decided to do the same thing with my shirts. I didn't want to start wearing men's t-shirts to work on the boat because they always make me look like I'm wearing a potato sack (a girl's gotta still try to look good for her man.) So I now have my work/socializing shirts (that don't require ironing) and my t-shirts that can all get dirty.

There's also the sun to consider. My grandmother and my father both have had skin cancer and I've already had abnormal skin removed, so I really have to stay covered. I wear the UV-protected sun shirts from REI during the day at the marina and always have on a hat and sunglasses as well.

My outfits generally look like this now. I feel cute and presentable in the form-fitting clothes, and my outfit is functional and practical at the same time.  For my fellow boat ladies, what are some of your tips for looking cute and functional on the docks?


Things I Want to do When I Go Sailing

Here's a list that I intend to add to as the years tick by toward our big sail.  When we go sailing we'll quit our jobs and won't be working, at least for awhile. It's going to be the cruising life for us!

So here are a few things I'd like to finally have the time to work on:

1. Learn how to really play the guitar. Not just pick it up and pick at it every once in awhile.

2. Learn how to do backbends, backflips and round houses. Eric doesn't know it yet, but I'm going to have him spot me until I can do these on my own. 

3. Learn more about photography.

4. Learn more about boat maitenance.

5. Learn how to be a better sailor.

6. Learn how to navigate by the stars and by using a sextant.

7. Practice my cooking. I want to be an awesome cook someday.

8. Get really good at knowing how to do all kinds of cool, handy knots.

9. Brush up on the Spanish and French language.

10. Learn how to french braid my own hair.

11. Learn how to scuba dive.

12. Get better at canvas work.


;) Only 8 more days until the wedding. I'll be back to blogging soon!