Thursday, August 4, 2011

Girls Take the Helm

By Elizabeth Becker

In late July, an enthusiastic group of 16 young women, average age 13, boarded Adventuress in Friday Harbor for 3 days of sailing, learning, and exploring.  Except for one group of five Girl Scouts who had journeyed all the way from central Oregon, the girls didn’t know one another.  But any hesitance quickly evaporated during the opening circle, lunch, and Watch Group orientations.  A sunny afternoon of sailing kept everyone busy hauling on lines, tacking, and taking turns at the helm.  At anchor in McKay Harbor off Lopez Island, preparations began for the evening program, which would include resource reports and game night.

One of the unique aspects of Girls at the Helm is having a group of women mentors aboard to share their passions and expertise with the participants.  On this trip, the five mentors shared their interests in wildlife biology, teamwork, photography, tall ships, and water quality.  The crew, which was mostly female for this trip, added plankton and sail theory to the mix.

Furling the jib in windy weather
On day 2, the ship headed south and east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, heading up Rosario Strait.  The sun and calm seas of the day before had given way to cooler temperatures, stronger winds, and sizable swells, giving all aboard a taste of saltier sailing.  Heading back through Thatcher Pass brought smoother waters along with a bit of rain. But once at anchor in Blind Bay off Shaw Island, the sun came out and there was plenty of time for climbing aloft, sailing Ayashe, and doing some fancy knotwork.

During dinner, the participants had an opportunity for some one-on-one time with the mentors, with an assignment to ask them questions and then share the answers with the whole group during the evening program. The girls did an awesome job with their presentations, which were followed up with skits by each Watch Group.

The trip ended far too soon. Day 3 brought Adventuress back to Friday Harbor under sunny skies. The girls left with great memories, a better sense of their abilities, and a new window into what’s possible.
“I learned that I’m stronger than I thought.” ---participant

Studying plankton
The Intrepid Mentors
Hauling up the mainsail
Studying the charts
Learning Adventuress' sails
Preparing to go up Adventuress' mainmast!

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I'm one of those five Girl Scouts (Brooke Bennett) and I just wanted to say that the sailing trip (Girls at the Helm) was one of the MOST amazing experiences of my life--I just can't say enough! Thanks to everyone who was aboard the ship for making it such a wonderful environment and experience! I hope I can go again!

    Thanks so much,

    Brooke :-)