Women on the Water

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Women on the Water

Women on the Water

Women on the Water Blog

As we adapt we have recently added a new session to our program a ‘Women on the Water’ Chat. The aim is to encourage more women afloat whatever their level of boating. This  blog will hopefully give you a flavour of our chats and hopefully encourage you as ladies along to our next chat or chaps to encourage their sisters, partners etc to participate.

I launched this last week and invited a group of contacts to join me.  I wanted to see whether there was any demand for the chat. What started out as a quick 20min turned into an hour of laughter, chat and supportive comments.  I had to call time an hour later to ensure we had something to chat about this week.   The good news was that we have filled a gap. It was interesting to see that the insecurities and queries I have had on the water and in my boating pathway, were echoed by the others in the group.   Even better news was that by accident I had discovered a lovely group of ladies.  These included sailing instructors, lifeboat crew, powerboaters, safety boat crew and dinghy sailors.  All happy to help with any queries we receive.

This week’s Women on the Water chat:

Fast forward a week and I hadn’t publicised this weeks event as extensively as I wanted. I, myself, had been struck by the very thing I was trying to prevent in others. A crisis of confidence as to whether anyone would turn up, so I had lost confidence in publishing it. A quick message half an hour before I was due to start out to the group from last week of “its running but don’t worry if you’re otherwise engaged” still resulted in four of us gathering online around the coffee cups.   I had designed my schedule with topics suited to new boaters and yet here were people some of whom work on the water – what could we possibly discuss?

Its fair to say that once again 20mins turned into an hour – there was lots of laughter and some interesting points came from the discussion. The ladies were all respectful of giving each other the opportunity to speak without forcing anyone to and it felt supportive. I look forward to the day when we can meet each other face to face.  It feels like I know these people already!

We had chat, we discussed technical points, shared ideas and even discussed the best safety kit for women.

Topics raised:

One point raised was that ‘we’, the boating community, seem to have forgotten that boating can be just for fun. We do not have to leave at 3am to make the most use of tide. It may be if we leave later chances are it will just take longer. If we are happier, it’s a safe passage and it’s a beautiful sunny day why not lie in and enjoy the sailing later even if it takes a little longer to get to the destination! Of course, its not quite as clear cut as we must plan, some boats will make no progress against the tide, the trip may be more uncomfortable, or we may use more fuel. But the point was we go boating for fun – don’t feel pressurised into always achieving something specific.


Another interesting issue was weather and the pressure that some have felt on courses that they have to go out whatever the weather because people have paid. It was interesting to hear this vocalised from others as it is something that has put me off courses in the past.   We are really lucky with our centre that Dom and I want to enjoy teaching you as much as you want to enjoy your course so if bad weather is forecast we will always contact you to discuss .

Some people are happy to go out whatever the weather and subject to safety considerations that is fine, but many of our clients are leisure boaters starting out.   We want you to enjoy boating as much as we do and therefore don’t want to put you off by sending you out in vile weather!   How do we get this information out there to reassure people?

What do I want from my boating?

Both points came back to a fundamental question – why do you have a boat?   If you want to only go out on sunny calm days that is absolutely ok. If you like going out in more challenging conditions then again that is fine.  Just don’t be afraid to ensure that you are meeting your objectives. Is the boating safe, fun and enjoyable?

A little tip I was given years ago – always come home before your crew ask to be brought in.   That way they will want to go out again.


Women on the Water – Quote of the Day:

One of our participants then came up with a fabulous quote – one I didn’t immediately recognise but should:

“Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular;”   Wind in the Willows

To me this quote sums up what boating should be about – no pressure, no stress just chillout time.


Summer plans:

The conversation moved onto boating plans for this summer. Whilst plans are currently on hold, we discussed one participant’s plans to cross the channel.   This lady has the skillset and has done the research – now it’s the confidence to go and do it when the situation permits. It was interesting for some of the more experienced to discuss how they work out passage plans and tides, comparing techniques whilst it allowed some newer boaters to be aware of the depth of planning that is required for such a trip.  It is reassuring to see ambitious women out there boating.

I was fascinated that within the group we had all said we wanted fun, enjoyable, relaxed boating but that should not be mistaken for a lack of ability.  When we want to undertake a channel crossing or further it is to embraced.   Interestingly most of us also race to a great or lesser extent so again don’t mistake our wish for chilled sailed for a lack of competitiveness when we want!



We chatted about how language can be misinterpreted and whether we over plan. We talked about the balance between having a thorough and competent plan in case needed and yet also taking a step back and remembering what it is we are trying to achieve. Its is easy to take a trip like Poole to Lymington and say well its only come out the harbour and turn left and fundamentally it is. But we should take care to ensure newcomers to our world understand that we have done much more planning than that and should something go wrong we have a back up plan.


Waterproofs and Lifejackets:

Finally the conversation somehow moved onto lifejackets. Those that know me know this is a topic to infuriate me and a conversation I have had many times.  At a Women on the Water Chat it was inevitable the topic would arise! The designs of lifejackets for ladies whilst being told by reps I am the only one to have raised it. The beauty of a meetup like this is I discover I am not alone; we have all had similar conversations.   There is a gap in the market for female friendly lifejackets. It is interesting that all of us had chosen a similar style of lifejacket. It is not one that we often see in use at training centres but we all found most comfortable. Food for thought for our courses. We did specifically choose a style of lifejacket at our centre that is suitable for both men and women.

Naturally, the conversation also moved onto being given the wrong size waterproofs on boats. The expectation that any clothing would fit women.   It was a lightbulb moment for me a few years ago when I bought female fit salopettes. Not only are they comfortable but I can step up and down decks and across jockey seats.   We had a compare across the brands and discussed ensuring friends are properly kitted out when accompanying us.


The biggest takeaway for me was not only the supportive environment to raise questions but also the breadth of knowledge.  The fact that it is ok to go boating in a non-competitive way.   I really do need to find a way to ensure that people know our courses are designed around you.  Visit for training or a course certificate I don’t mind.  Achieve something specific or lets just go out and play on the water.  What I want is for you to enjoy just being afloat without pressure.


Next event:

Thank you to all who took part today and I hope to see more ladies online for our Women on the Water Chat next week.  Wed 2.30pm – email me for the link.


The Wind in the Willows quote absolutely sums up the mood of our chat earlier. I love it so much I’m going to end with a repeat!

“Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular;”   Wind in the Willows



If you would like to chat further about boating or the Women on the Women Chat please don’t hesitate to send me a message – Contact Sarah at Dorset Marine Training

About me:

I am a Partner in Dorset Marine Training & the Principal for our RYA Training Centre Activities.  I am also a Powerboat and VHF Radio Instructor.  In the past I have been a Dinghy Instructor and over the years have owned a variety of watercraft.  These range from canoes through to sailing dinghies, a 18ft yacht, a selection of small powerboats and our Training RIBs.  I am also a qualified Commercial Skipper for motor boats and actively participate in dinghy sailing and racing.  I am just at home bimbling around the harbour as I am participating in a race, skippering or teaching.  The Women on the Water Chats were established by me to try and encourage more women to try boating, to feel supported as they progress and to explore what they want from their boating.



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