Gathering on the Bay

I’m spending the weekend in Port Stephens at the 3rd Women Who Sail Australia Gathering on the Bay seminar. It’s a fantastic weekend where women with a shared love of sailing and all things on the water get together and share their experiences.

The Women Who Sail group was originally started by an American called Charlotte Kaufman who lived with her family on a boat in Mexico. She had tried to find like-minded people on the cruising forums but, as these are predominantly male, found that often her questions were ridiculed. She eventually set up the WWS group on Facebook and the first 8 members were women with small children living on boats around her. She thought maybe she’d get a few hundred members but there was obviously a need as today it has nearly 15,000 members.

Over the last few years a dozen spin-off groups have started. The WWSA has over 2700 members and this group has been incredibly useful to me as we moved from NSW to Queensland two years ago where we knew very few people. Within a few months we had met dozens of new ‘friends’ through WWSA who have welcomed us, taken us sailing and helped us settle in to our new life.

Two years ago, as our boat is in Greece, I started the Women Who Sail the Med. It now has over 1000 members and is a fount of information as well as providing us with lots of new people to meet up with, share a beer and talk about sailing. This year we’re sailing to Turkey and we already have a few get togethers planned.

Meanwhile back at the seminar, yesterday we had workshops on navigation and splicing rope and heard from amazing people who cruise the Pacific Islands, some providing help to the schools and one couple who provide eye glasses to anyone who needs them.

Today we listened to Charlotte describing her family’s heart-breaking rescue in the Pacific Ocean and having to scuttle their boat (not a dry eye in the house including Charlotte’s!) We found out about sailing from Patagonia to Australia via the Antarctic, heard of the dreadful aftermath of Cyclone Debbie and Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and the day ended with Lisa Blair telling us about her circumnavigation of Antartica including being dismasted 1000 miles off South Africa! We ended the day exhausted and had to relax with wine tasting and a lovely dinner.

Tomorrow should be better with sailing in NZ, weather routing and provisioning for a long passage. Even I can’t cry over that!

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