WHY WOMEN ON THE WATER?
It doesn’t take a scientific study to see that there’s a gender imbalance in the world of sailing. St. Augustine Sailing co-owner, captain and instructor, Rose Ann Points, certainly didn’t need one.
“Growing up on the water, spending time on boats and in marinas, you very quickly notice that there are very few women running boats, captaining them, getting into the grit of it,” she explains. “Don’t get me wrong, they’re there, but they’re doing the same jobs all the time – handling lines or cooking in the galley. It’s time women plot their own course and take the helm!”
And in case you were wondering, there actually is a scientific study. In 2019, the World Sailing Trust decided to get some quantifiable data about women in sailing. After compiling responses from 4,500 people from 75 countries, they confirmed what Rose Ann had already known. Over 59 percent of women had experienced some sort of gender discrimination while sailing and lack of support was the most common issue highlighted by respondents. Rose Ann wants to change that dynamic.
CONFIDENCE THROUGH SAILING
Women on Water! or WOW! is a hands-on instructional program designed by women for women to make sailing an attainable goal. The program aims to cover “all things sailing.” And that’s important knowledge to have. “Things can happen out on the water – you’re at the mercy of the water. And making sure that everyone onboard is prepared and knowledgeable is important,” stresses Rose Ann. “Our ultimate goal is to make sure that women leave our course feeling competent and confident. The first time you take the helm and guide a boat on her course, it’s powerful. You feel powerful. I want every female sailor to feel that.”
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The WOW! program is designed to be flexible and fit every woman’s sailing journey. Participants meet every weekend throughout the year, each month focusing on a different topic. The topics are modified to fit every level of experience, so everyone from novices to experienced sailors is welcome to join. You can expect to see women of all ages and abilities in our workshops. The classes are designed to be free-standing – life happens, and it’s ok if you can’t attend every class!
The month of February features workshops on navigation. In the most basic terms, navigation is how to know where you are, know where you’re going and how to get there. And it’s vastly different from popping on ‘Maps’ and hitting I-95 in your car. On the water, there are no roads, few signs other than basic navigational markers and weather conditions that can complicate things, like fog and rain. It can sound daunting, but once you learn the basics, you can confidently navigate the waters.
LEVEL 1: CHARTS
A chart is simply a map of the waterways. It shows water depths, landmarks, navigational aids and restricted areas. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produces charts for the United States. This workshop will focus on reading and deciphering charts.
LEVEL 2: NAVIGATION AIDS
There are a variety of navigational aids used on the water: buoys, day beacons, lights, lightships and more. These objects are the street signs of the water and can guide a boat to safety, as long as the helmswoman knows how to read them. Participants will learn how to identify common aids to navigation, what they mean and how to use them.
LEVEL 3: NAVIGATION TOOLS
In the early days of sailing, all a captain needed was a clear sky and a hand. These days mariners have a myriad of navigation tools at their disposal. From the traditional ship’s compass to the more advanced radar and autopilot, Rose Ann and her co-instructor Kim Walther will cover the navigation tools students may encounter on-board.
LEVEL 4: BASIC PLOTTING
The final February workshop will show how to use the above skills to plan out a course on a chart. Using tools like parallel rulers and dividers, the art of plotting is a useful tool for any sailor to have in their ditty bag. Although navigation has become quite high-tech, electronics can fail for a variety of reasons. It’s critical to have a basic understanding of analog navigation to ensure you can get safely home.
If you or any of the women in your life are ready to embrace the world of salt, sea and sailing, visit our WOW! page for information on classes, future topics and more. To learn more about our instructors, visit our crew pages for Rose Ann Points and Kim Walther. We can’t wait to see you out on the water!