Call Her Captain by Cindy Wallach
hat old catch phrase “Captains and Admirals” implying that men are the captains of any boat and women are the admirals, in so much as they plan meals and mix cocktails, is about as outdated as phones that are stuck to walls. Women singlehand their boats, women are licensed captains, and you can make calls from just about anywhere on planet earth these days.
have careers in the marine industry, stereotypes are slowly changing.” Suky Cannon has been sailing all her life and got her captain’s license four years ago. She says even though there might still be some stereotypes that never seem to disappear, the best advice for women looking to get their license or just skipper their own boat is to ignore the com##Often, folks are taken aback when they learn my ments and go for it. “Many profession, and then follow with,”‘Hey, that’s cool!” people appreciate the patience and competency professional women offer,” says Suky. Suky or Angie to show you the ropes “That can work in your favor. Often, and help build confidence and skills. folks are taken aback when they learn Suky remembers the first time she my profession, and then follow with, singlehanded a 33-foot cruiser out of ‘Hey, that’s cool!’” City Island, NY, in her 20s. “I reviewed Even if a professional captain’s how I was going to do it over and over, license is not on your to-do list, any checked and double checked everywoman who is spending time sailthing,” Suky remembers. “The sense ing should try to find a way to spend of exhilaration that I did it well, with some time taking the helm, captainno mishaps, was thrilling. I remember ing their own boat, and thinking I could just keep sailing on even single handing. If forever. The joy and sense of oneness ##Angie Wilson has been a you’re unsure about how with the boat and the wind was exhilalicensed captain for five to start, then ditch your rating. It’s part of why I especially love years and a sailor for 25. significant other and start introducing other women to sailing. small. Look for sailing The sense of empowerment and mastery clubs where you can get is amazing.” a dinghy sailboat and get Angie loves teaching sailing for the a feel for commanding same reasons. “I really enjoy when sudyour own little vessel, denly a student has the ‘ah-ha moment,’ then work your way up and they get it. I like to figure out how to larger boats. Take each student learns, as women learn your boat out with some very differently than men. My job as a girlfriends as crew. You coach is to help each student unlock her can also look for female sailing potential in a safe and relaxed sailing instructors like atmosphere,” Angie says.
Learning rules of the road, trimming sails, and making decisions onboard a sailboat have nothing to do with whether you sit or stand in the head (and fellas, we all know you sit while underway anyhow). Angie Wilson has been sailing for 25 years and a licensed captain for five years. “People tend to show a new level of respect when they learn you are actually a U.S. Coast Guard-licensed captain,” says Angie. “Many boaters call themselves ‘captain’ though they have no professional qualifications.” Angie sails out of Deale, MD, and spends her time teaching at The Sailing Academy, doing deliveries, and chartering her own boat. “Prejudice remains in the marine industry. Some people still expect the woman to be the galley wench,” she says. “I have had bridge tenders ask to speak to the captain even after assuring them that I am the captain. If I am traveling with a male crew, people often assume the male crew is the captain. Old ideas are slow to change, but as more and more women
48 April 2014 SpinSheet
Chesapeake Bay Sailing