Last year, a group of women from British Columbia attended the annual Women in Boating seminar in Seattle and were so impressed they decided to replicate it back home.
Thus the first Women on Water (WOW) event, scheduled for Saturday, March 9 in Victoria, was born. The seminar, sponsored by the Bluewater Cruising Association, will offer women a choice of topics in four one-hour sessions throughout the day, ranging from knot-tying to general boat maintenance, electrical systems to coastal weather.
Tara Coulter, one of the event’s organizers, said the seminar is intended for female boaters of all types and levels of experience.
“It’s for powerboaters, kayakers, sailors, everybody,” she said.
Coulter and several other Victoria-area women decided to organize the event after attending the Seattle seminar, held each February at North Seattle Community College. Yacht broker and lifelong sailor Judy Nasmith started the event in 1997 after noticing that the prospective buyers she was showing boats to were primarily men, and the women who accompanied them seemed reluctant about boating.
So Nasmith decided she needed to do something to get change that. She’s been organizing the seminar since its inception, and its popularity prompted the launch of a similar event, the South Sound Women’s Boating Seminar, started three years ago in Olympia.
At Nasmith’s 2012 seminar, Coulter said, she and the other B.C. boaters who went were struck by the comfortable learning environment the all-women event fostered.
“Sometimes the way that women learn is under fire, when things are going wrong on their boat, their partner is yelling at them and they don’t know what to do,” said Coulter, who lives with her husband onboard their 35-foot Endurance sailboat in Esquimalt, across the water from downtown Victoria.
“So we really wanted to empower women to take it upon themselves to increase their boating knowledge. They don’t have to rely on their partners.”
Interest in the upcoming seminar has been high, Coulter said, with about 115 women registered so far and space for only about another 30 left.
One of the event’s goals, she said, is to create a network of women boaters who can support and help each other.
” At the end of the day, we want women to feel more comfortable to express their real fears about boating,” she said. “Usually that comes from a lack of education, not knowing how to handle themselves in a certain situation.”
The Women on Water seminar will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 9 in the Liz Ashton Campus Centre Building of Camosun College in Victoria. The cost is $125, including lunch and snacks, and the registration deadline is March 5. Additional information and online registration are available here.