WoodenBoat School – Friendships Down the Seaboard

This person who you didn’t know a minute ago could be someone you know for a very long time. When you meet people you first hear their name, first shake their hand, first hear their story, then promptly and accidentally forget their name… then, if your heart’s open to it, as many travelers’ hearts are, your lives start to intertwine a bit. Maybe you become friends.

The women who took Elements of Seamanship at WoodenBoat School this year in the all-female class were open to it.


See more photos from WoodenBoat: Click to see pictures from class, pictures from the library, and pictures from Schooner Mary Day.

We had various and sundry backgrounds. Many of us knew we enjoyed adventuring and thought boats were neat, but had never trimmed a sail or approached a mooring ourselves. I live on a boat. Some didn’t know what a jib sheet was. Some had significant others who had never let them touch a thing on their boat. But this week, that wouldn’t fly. Little Crackerjack, Allene, Fox, Dovekie, We 3, Seal… these Herreshoff 12 1/2s were OURS. We’d pick one as a favorite and sail it with our new friends. We’d help each other. And we had a blast.




Bev taking the nutshell out

Getting ready to sail a Haven 12 1/2

We learned from incredible women- Jane Ahlfield and Gretchen Snyder- who both embody a self-reliance that I aspire to. We weren’t just learning to sail, after all. We were learning seamanship skills, the whole picture that encompasses good practices on the water, good planning, and a thoughtful, respectful regard to nature, weather and wind.


Gretchen in front of the boat house showing us a thing or two about anchoring.

Now that we’re on our way down the ICW and it’s a couple months gone since my time at WoodenBoat, I’ve had lunch with Jane aboard Mimi Rose in Martha’s Vineyard. I’m about to meet up with Bev in Mystic and with Heather in New York City. I’m in touch with Meg who said on the last day of class, “This here,” pointing to herself and me, “I feel like this isn’t done. I want to stay in touch and see you again soon.” I see Mary and Nancy around Facebook. Maybe I’ll see Sarah in New Jersey. I’ll be visiting Lyn’s gallery in Castine someday.

Meg and Me

Meg and Me

Bev and Mary Day

Bev and Schooner Mary Day

To travel down the seaboard and meet up again with these women and to meet and get to know Colin’s teacher from WoodenBoat as well has been overwhelming. We did laundry at Gretchen’s house and borrowed Myles Thurlow’s car. We ate dinner and enjoyed beers at Offshore Brewing Co. with Jane, Gretchen, Myles and other new friends. We painted our dinghy at Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway after meeting those folks through Myles and we went on a beautiful daysail aboard Nell later that day. All of this hospitality is turning into a giant web that had its genesis in Maine and has reached, so far, all the way down to New York.

So remember that next time you’re in an anchorage or in a classroom or even in a meeting somewhere and meet someone for the first time. Roots grow faster than you realize and they strengthen the ground you walk on.



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