When I was 16 I traveled to Australia as the youngest member of the Alaskan All-Star Cheerleading team. We cheered for the Alaskan All-Star Football team in Queensland at their annual Down Under Bowl.
Tomorrow I fly to Australia, twenty two years since the last time I visited to speak at Women Who Sail Australia’s third annual Gathering on the Bay in Port Stephens, New South Wales (north of Sydney).
As the founder of Women Who Sail, I’ve been invited to speak about my motivations for creating the group and why I think it is so successful. Our main group has almost 15,000 women and non-binary sailors. To give you an idea of how fast the group grew, I started it in December 2011 with only nine members!
We have over 37 sub-groups that span the globe with almost 16,000 members in them as well. 20 of those are regional sub-groups, some are even in different languages. Five deal specifically with topics surrounding health and living aboard. And 10 are various interest groups like Women Who Splice, Women Who Write, WWS Unicorns (LGBTQ Sailors), and Women Working in the Marine Industry.
In addition to talking about founding Women Who Sail, I’ll be talking about the rescue at sea that happened to my family in the spring of 2014 while crossing the Pacific Ocean on our sailboat, Rebel Heart.
Four years ago today (April 3) we made the decision to hit our EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon ) ensuring our 13 month old would get the medical treatment she needed and also knowing that flipping that switch would mean a water rescue and losing our boat (and only home for over seven years.)
[ If you are just hearing about what happened to us as we sailed across the Pacific Ocean you can listen to This American Life’s Episode 525 to hear more about why we had to call for help or read author Kevin Grange’s article in The Journal of Emergency Medicine (JEMS). ]
Other than our interviews with This American Life and JEMS, neither Eric nor I have shared any further details about what happened before, during, or after the rescue. I think it’s fitting that the first time I talk about what happened to us I will be amongst sailors, and female sailors at that.
Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, sometimes like just yesterday. It took me two years after the rescue to even start to be able to write about it. Another two to get this far along with a manuscript. Speaking at WWSA's event this weekend will be my first time in public reading from the manuscript.
I keep practicing the pieces I'm going to share because it's emotional to read them. I'm bringing tissues. The most important part of all this though is that I'm finally ready to share our story with the world. It took four years to get here though.
Australia!! If you’ll be at the Gathering, please say hello!
You can buy tickets here: https://www.stickytickets.com.au/64200/wwsa_gathering_on_the_bay_2018.aspx