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Immortal

by John Curnow on 28 Feb
The burgee has proven to be an excellent way of meeting other WWSA members. Standard practice is to look up at others masts for it - normally  sundowners, dinners and the start of great friendships follow. Event Media
Take your mind back to a Russell Mulcahy film from 1986 called, Highlander. The former music video producer’s first feature film was a cult star before going on to become a wee bit immortal, as per its main characters. The principal thrust of it all was a gathering of immortal souls, and in the end, there could be only one.

Our gathering in question here is at the other end of the spectrum. It is in its infancy, in fact, with last year actually being the inaugural event. However, a bit like a Mahi Mahi, it has grown at a prodigious rate. The Facebook group itself is now a tad shy of 1700 souls, and things look really good for them to totally eclipse the 70-something souls that attended that very first gathering at Port Stephens last year.

They are of course the Women Who Sail Australia, and like any good outfit, they run on the back of some tireless work by a handful of volunteers. This year’s gathering is once again in Port Stephens, and runs from March 31 to April 2, 2017. Speakers at the seminar are Lin Pardey, Jackie Parry and our Paralympic Gold Medallist and ball of enthusiasm, Liesl Tesch. Best of all, it is only $50 for the two days, with all profits assisting Marine Rescue Port Stephens, and Sailors with Disabilities.



Yes, you should be there if you are in the area, or can make it happen. The reason is simple. These are women helping women with real issues aboard, and providing valuable assistance and information in a timely manner, so that the dream of cruising in retirement, or when the family is still young and growing, does not turn into a full blown nightmare.

Their Mission Statement says, ‘Connecting women through our shared love of boats and being on the water.’ What that all translates to is encouragement, support, a sharing of priceless information and friendship. WWSA is an inclusive group for women, no matter what their level of experience. Amongst ‘the gathering’ they have beginners dreaming of sailing away, those who have circumnavigated the country or the globe, families living on boats, solo sailors, dinghy sailors, racers, cruisers, day sailors, and liveaboards, so it is pretty encompassing.

Shelley Wright started the group in 2013, after she spoke with Charlotte Kaufman in the USA, who started Women Who Sail, which has about 10,000 members now. Originally, the independently run WWSA thought they would amass some 20-30 members, but now as you can see, the word is out and ever expanding. There are now even several sub-groups too, like Women Who Sail the Med or Women Who Sail South East Asia.

All of it very much revolves around the core idea that there was a real need for a safe place for women to discuss anything revolving around boats and the nautical life, without being made to feel inadequate, or stupid. It really works, and today one of the main engines inside ‘the gathering’ can recount how she came to be involved when she was waiting out a massive storm passing through Bass Strait, and not only wondering what she had got herself into, but also how she was going to actually get through it. Some time wandering through the web had her land on the group and pretty soon the answers and advice started flowing in, just like the new tide.



In addition to the three main speakers, the seminar has 14 other guests who will cover as wide a range of topics you could possibly wish for. From safety at sea to dealing with storms, nutrition to importing boats, diesel maintenance to solo circumnavigation, and the full insight on insurance with Pantaenius, you will have countless opportunities for both learning and fun!

So as they have said, “Come and be part of something really special. In addition to boats, we have a formal dinner (all welcome and the cost is just $60) with guest speaker panels, a live auction, wine tasting, and great food to make it a fantastic night.”

Now if there can be only one, then remember this, the seminar at the gathering may be ladies only, but other halves are included in many of the extracurricular activities, so it is completely embracing and friendly. To explore, please see their Facebook page, and to book to be a part of the 2017 gathering, go here

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