Women Who Sail and Why We Work

WWS Members are from EVERYWHERE!

The WWS Interactive Map- One Pin Equals One Member!

I’m a member of a closed group on Facebook that plays a big role for me when it comes to sailing and living aboard. I was invited by my friend Sophi who has lived aboard for a few years now, and she was really excited to add me to the ranks of the amazing group of women known as “Women Who Sail.” When I was added, we were at about 700 members. As of now we’ve busted on through to 1185 members and counting.

The conversation is enlightening, detailed, technical, supportive, and inspiring. I can’t get enough of these people. I really feel as though they’re friends, and we meet up with each other in the real world when our paths cross.

What makes the group special is perhaps the spectrum of its participants. We are old and young; we are new and experienced. We are single-handers out on our own and timid sideline sitters whose partners carry the bulk of the boat tasks. Many well-known bloggers and book writers are among our ranks.┬áLin Pardey chimes in from time to time, as she’s a member, too.

A good number of the members are at the dream stage of the boating/cruising life, however, many conversations are driven by women live aboard in remote places and have many nautical miles under their belts. I’m in awe of them, I respect them, and they respect me.

As we add new members, most give an introductory post about themselves and comment on how refreshing it is to discuss boat matters in a forum and format so open and accepting. I think this says more about the environment outside of WWS than it does about us, and so for anyone who’s curious about what goes on in our little neck of the internet woods, I’m going to lay it out. Here’s why I think it works. I’m sharing this because I hope it inspires other people with like minds to build their own beautiful webs.

1. Our membership is vetted.

Not just by moderators, either. New folks who come to WWS are typically added after meeting in real life with people who are current members. Sophi is a friend from Portland, and she added me. I’ve invited women I met at potlucks and random anchorages all up and down the eastern seaboard of the US during my first trip on the ICW. This creates a membership that cares. There’s a real feeling that we have a stake in how great the group is and what its inherent value is. We all bring that to the group, not just any particular one of us.

2. Posts are monitored and discussion is moderated.

We have our moments where the moderators have had to remind people to curb their tone, but really, for being over 1000 people I’m going to boast that we’ve got some really peaceful, mindful, thoughtful folks here. I don’t think it’s because we’re women, I think it’s got something to do with the vetting AND with the clear guidelines about the purpose of the group. Some posts about electrical maintenance or ideal finishes for teak could potentially get heated. Ever read a post about the holy act of anchoring in other forums? I won’t name names, but I mean really, if you ask a question a certain way in certain places the sharks come out. I daresay WWS is proud to be shark-free.

3. Conversation flows freely from engine parts to lady parts, and it’s all good.

When it comes to living aboard, there are some serious questions from a broad swath of potential topics that most folks on a wide open forum would not be willing to post. I think that the fact that conversations float at the top of the page and then slowly sink down while new posts are created and discussed makes for fresh, lively back-and-forth banter, advice, and opinion.

Right now, just browsing the page quickly, our group is discussing internationally documented vessels and an anecdotal experience off the coast of California, optimizing a new iPad so the Active Captain app renders a chart properly, how to make your dinghy a little safer for your dog that loves to hang out right on the bow, and what we can do with beach trash if we’re in a remote place and want to do something about it. There have been many discussions about healthcare, remote family relationships, and how to report abusive partner behavior we see in anchorages. We’ve got this one conversation that has gone into the mental archives as the “bra rant.” We’ve got a handful woman who could solve pretty much ANY of your engine issues with just a couple of pictures and a description of the problem. Don’t even get me started about how crafty, creative, and self-sufficient these people are.

Other forums have big lists of topics and so many places to poke around and stick your head in, leave a comment, and then leave, maybe never to return. Facebook might have one up on the traditional forum approach when it comes to talking about big things that really matter, and that might be because the posts flow down from a spotlight position at the top of the page and they move down as things become resolved.

4. Like-minded individuals just might have the most productive conversations.

We’re all women and most of us live aboard or have dreams about living aboard. We’re coming in at a particular angle and have some pretty major things in common. Our politics, our backgrounds, our incomes and therefore our approach to cruising might be slightly different, but fundamentally, we’re coming at this with a lot to offer each other. For example, folks who daysail or go on short cruises have a very different opinions about using marinas or anchoring than we do- we have to anchor or this lifestyle isn’t possible for us, financially speaking. There are many kindreds in WWS.


So that’s about it. If you’re inspired to join Women Who Sail, please send a message- we’ll chat it up and I’ll see if I can get you in! Maybe you’re inspired to start a group of your own, you gents you, who seek to raise the level of conversation or who maybe want to stay in touch, easily, with people you meet or with acquaintances of acquaintances.

8 thoughts on “Women Who Sail and Why We Work

  1. Cate McCarty

    I have met several members and joined the Facebook group WWS. Thank you for this write up. I was feeling like I was too reluctant and novice to fit in well based on who I have met. I have lived aboard for more than two years and been a cruising spouse for one year. This is a great venue for growth.

  2. Beth Burch

    Would love to join Women Who Sail. I’m a 57 year old woman living on my Cape George 36 in Portland Oregon. Started sailing at age 50, and have several thousand hours sailing on the Columbia River. Did a bit of coastal sailing off the Columbia River Bar last year and can’t wait for more. My husband and I will race this year on our Ranger 20 as well as the Cape George. Would like to connect with other women who are serious sailors. Look forward to hearing back. Beth

  3. Mary Coar

    Hi Anne,

    While scouring the internet trying learn about living aboard, I came across your blog and this page in particular. I’ve asked to join Women Who Sail, on Facebook, but have been declined and now after reading your post I wonder if it is because a recommendation must be made. I am considering an opportunity I have to become a live-aboard cruiser and thought that Women Who Sail might provide a forum to learn about the experience from women. If you could help me with this, I’d be grateful. If you’d like to engage in more dialogue to vet me first, I’d welcome that.

    Thanks so much,


    1. Anne Post author

      Hi Mary! I’ve reached out via email to you and hope to hear from you soon! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  4. Deb Blanton

    Hello Anne, my husband and I recently bought our little 32 foot Endeavour sailboat and are now full time liveaboards in Key West Florida. Her name is Gypsy Wind and I call her our” tiny house on the water”. I love this little boat so much already! I was recommended to you by two fellow liveaboards and Women Who Sail members (Lynne Straube and Stacey). I would love to become a member and answer any questions that you have for me. Can’t wait to hear from you.


    1. Anne Post author

      Hi Deb! thanks for stopping by the blog! I haven’t seen your request to be added and I don’t see you as a member of the group. Have you requested to join? I look forward to hearing from you! Thanks so much. -a

  5. Janet Lee Knizner-Enders

    Nicely written blog!
    Charlotte invited me to join WWS a while back and I was member 800, so it was shortly after you. Can you believe how we have grown?
    Now that conversations are kept to sailing, I’ve started a FaceBook page called WISP… Women In a Secret Place (or Safe Place) and it is for WWS members who want to talk or share about other things that we deal with in life. We all have a common sisterhood of sailing but we all have a life. It is a ‘secret’ group and one needs to be invited to join.
    If you are interested, please pm me and I will add you.
    Janet Lee


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