Inspiration from Women Sailors
In honor of Women's History Month, let's look at some amazing women sailors. First up is Kirsten Neuschafer, pictured above, sailing her 36' Ocean Race boat Minehaha. Kirsten is a 40-year-old South African who is currently in the lead in the 2022-23 Golden Globe Race.
This edition of the Golden Globe marks the 50th anniversary of the first Solo, Non-Stop, Around the World Race. Current participants must use yachts and equipment that were available fifty years ago, and must sail on boats between 32 and 36 feet in length, designed prior to 1988. Also sailors must navigate with traditional celestial navigation which was used 50 years ago (and many years before that) and may not use modern technology, Which means no satellite-based navigation aids!
Kirsten has consulted Ocean Passages of the World with its 200-year-old weather routing charts, historical weather and suggested routes from the original clipper sailing ships. Following that advice is now paying strong dividends. As Kirsten nears the end of this lengthy race, which began on on September 2, 2022 with 16 sailors, she is now ahead of the rest of the fleet and heading towards the finish.
Only four sailors remain in this incredible race, as twelve participants have had to withdraw or drop down to the Chichester Class due to various equipment failures and the like. The four remaining competitors have sailed around the world via the five Great Capes and will finish in Les Sables-d'Olonne, France, probably in April - May, 2023.
What an amazing woman! Learn more Kirsten by click on the button below.
Closer to home, we have many more inspiring women sailors. Pictured below is racing sailor Dawn Riley. As CEO and captain of America True, Dawn Riley was the first woman to manage an America’s Cup sailing team. She has raced on four America’s Cup and two Whitbread (now The Ocean Race) teams. She is the former president of the Woman’s Sports Foundation, served on the board of US Sailing, and is an advisor to several public service organizations.
Dawn is now Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing, in Oyster Bay, New York, an organization founded in 2010 to raise the caliber of sailing in the United States. Oakcliff Sailing has grown tremendously and offers a variety of amazing programs. From two week summer intensives (the Acorn Program) to longer, apprenticeship-type programs (the Sapling Program), to weekend clinics and regattas, Oakcliff has training options for everyone.
Recent Oakcliff graduates include Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, principals of 11th Hour Racing, who are currently competing (in second place) in The Ocean Race, a crewed Race Around-The-World, which started in January 2023 and will continue through the finish in July 2023. You can follow the team here.
Dawn is an extremely generous supporter of all sailors, and she was a Keynote speaker for our Riverport Women's Sailing Conference in 2021. Click on the button to read more about Oakcliff and Dawn's amazing programs.
Even closer to home, in the Hudson Valley, we have a number of inspiring women sailors. One notable person is Stefany Coulter, pictured below. She is the founder of Sail Hope, a not-for-profit organization located in Catskill, New York. Sail Hope takes people who normally would not have access to the water out sailing at no cost to them. Stefany will be our Keynote Speaker at the Riverport Women's Sailing Conference on March 24, 2023.
Click here for more information about Sail Hope.
Sixth Annual Riverport Women's Sailing Conference
For the opportunity to learn from and network with other inspiring female mariners, join us for the Sixth Annual Riverport Women's Sailing Conference on March 25.
Last-Minute Keynote Dinner Registration:
Deadline for Keynote dinner on Friday, March 24 Registration: noon, Sunday, March 19:
Last-Minute Conference Registration:
Deadline for Conference on Saturday, March 25 Registration: noon, Monday, March 20:
What is the best age to start sailing?
Almost any age!
At the Sailing School at the Hudson River Maritime Museum, we believe that sailing is a sport one can enjoy throughout many different periods of life, from early childhood to later adulthood. While youth typically learn to sail on tender sailboats called dinghies, there is a wide range of dinghies to suit different ages, levels of fitness, and goals. Some are stable, single-sail boats like the pram pictured above and some are fast, tippy, challenging racing boats. Here at the sailing school, we offer our youth students opportunities to sail in a variety of dinghies, so they feel comfortable and have the opportunity to challenge themselves when they are ready to do so.
We offer a parent-child sailing class for children ages five to eight years old to learn with their parents. Our other classes are for youth ages six through seventeen who learn independently from their parents under the expert guidance of US Sailing-Certified instructors.
Adults at our Sailing School typically learn on Keelboats, which by definition have a fixed keel (rather than a moveable centerboard) which pretty much ensures capsizes (when the boat flips over and the sails are floating on the water) are virtually impossible. Keelboats also vary tremendously in design and performance, but generally, they are more stable and demand less gymnastic ability than centerboard boats. The yellow boat shown below is one of our Keelboats.
We do offer some opportunities for adult learners to try out centerboard boats as well if that is something they wish to pursue. The white boat below is one of our Catalina Capri centerboard boats with adult students aboard.
If you have been thinking about learning to sail, or if you wish to enroll your child in sailing classes for the 2023 season, now is the time to check out our offerings on line.
Classes are filling fast! For more information and registration click on the links below:
Adult Sailing Classes
Youth Sailing Classes
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
Are you dreaming of the upcoming sailing season? Do you want to learn more about sailing and related topics? Would you like to network with other sailors and learn where to sail in the Hudson Valley?
Join with 74 other sailors at the 2023 Riverport Women's Sailing Conference on March 24 - 25, 2023. Our goal is welcome everyone, especially those who have not had easy access to our sport in the past. To highlight women's accomplishments, all presentations will be led by skilled women mariners.
Join us for an optional inspirational Keynote dinner on March 24 and choose from the following topics on March 25: Environmental Education & Sail Training, The Science of Sailing, Terrestrial Navigation, Becoming a Boat Owner, Sail Care & Repair, Intro to Racing, Spinnaker Racing, Double-Handed Racing, Sustainable Sailing, HRMM Gallery Tours focused on Women, Diesel Maintenance, Learning the Ropes, Outboard Engine Maintenance, Coastal and Offshore Passages, Weather for the Mariner, and US Inland Navigation Rules.
Only 35 spots remain. Sign up today to reserve your place at the conference.
If you are into sailing and live in the Northeast, you may be feeling the January doldrums at this time of year. Most of us finish sailing in September or October and don’t return to the water until May or June, so as of this writing in mid-January, we’re in a long period away from wonderful days on the water.
Aside from heading to Florida or the Caribbean, what’s a sailor to do?
Perhaps you’d be interested in some Armchair Sailing to help you pass the time until Spring? Whether you are a day sailor, cruiser, or racing sailor, publications and the internet can offer much entertainment and education to help prepare for the 2023 season ahead. I will offer some suggestions later in the article about these.
More exciting for some of us armchair sailors is following races virtually with access to amazing on-board footage. One thrilling competition to watch is The Ocean Race, a 32,000 mile, seven-leg, around-the-world contest that pits top, professional sailors against their peers in high-intensity, non-stop legs of one to four weeks in length. The IMOCA class of race boats begins The Ocean Race tomorrow, Sunday, January 15 at 10:00 am Eastern time, with the Volvo 65 boats starting two hours later at noon. You can learn about how to follow the action here: https://www.theoceanrace.com/
Our favorite competitor in the Ocean Race is the IMOCA 60 class boat Malama, pictured above, organized by Eleventh Hour Racing and helmed by Charlie Enright out of Newport, Rhode Island. Not only is this an amazing boat and crew, but the organization values improving gender equity and is a leader in environmental research and education and does great work toward improving the health of the oceans. https://11thhourracing.org/
The Ocean Race is the modern iteration of The Whitbread Around the World race in which Tracy Edwards competed back in 1989-1990 on her famous vessel Maiden, which is shown here in 2022. You can follow Maiden’s current travels around the world to support education for girls at www.themaidenfactor.org
In addition to watching The Ocean Race unfold, or following Maiden's progress, you may be interested in the following resources.
If you are considering buying an older boat in 2023, check out Captain Q, Boat Hunter. Captain Q reviews dozens of different Keel boats, and the prospective boat buyer can learn a lot by watching his videos. https://yachthunting.com/
If you have an older boat in need of repairs, you may wish to subscribe to Good Old Boat for a wealth of information and repairing and upgrading used sailboats www.goodoldboat.com
For more information on boat repairs, equipment and sailing skills, subscribe to Practical Sailor at www.practical-sailor.com
For weekly sailing-related information, subscribe for free to Scuttlebutt News www.sailingscuttlebutt.com
If you are a racer, Dave Dellenbaugh’s Speed and Smarts newsletter offers a wealth of information for improving your racing skills. https://www.speedandsmarts.com/
Dave also offers excellent online classes for reasonable prices. Upcoming classes include
Racing Essentials, Sail Trim Secrets, and Winning Tactics.
The Sailing School encourages you to sign up and attend the in-person Riverport Women’s Sailing Conference at HRMM in Kingston, New York coming very soon, on Saturday, March 25, 2023. You can learn more about this event and register here:
Here's to some happy Armchair Sailing!
Tuesdays & Thursdays
February 7th – May 4th
At the start of each year the students ask “When will we be finished?”
Months later when they launch a boat they created themselves, they experience first hand how a long term investment in a physical process, can culminate into something of value. If you are looking for the perfect after-school activity for the hands-on learner, YouthBoat may be just the thing!
Students ages 11-17 work alongside shipwrights to follow building plans, use tools and materials, and put STEM skills to work as they build a boat in the school’s wood shop under the guidance of skilled shipwrights and craftspeople. YouthBoat is designed to empower youth from diverse backgrounds, build character, and foster teamwork through the traditional craft of wooden boatbuilding and on-the-water activities.
Give the Gift of Classes
If you are looking for a holiday gift that will create lasting memories, treat your loved one to a class in woodworking! Sign yourself up to share the experience!
Wood and Resin Jewelry Making
Date: January 10th, 12th, 17th, and 19th
Instructor Kathy Prisco will be giving a multifaceted class on making jewelry using a variety of techniques over the course of four evenings. The first week Kathy will give demonstrations and students have an opportunity to experiment with a scroll saw, mixing and pouring epoxy resin, and gluing up thin pieces of wood and hand turning wooden rings and bracelets. Students will also learn some rudimentary techniques for assembling jewelry. The object of the class is that students will be exposed to enough processes that during the second week, they will be able to design and create a piece of jewelry of their choosing.
Make Your Own Ukulele
Friday, January 20, 6PM–9PM
Saturday, January 21, 10AM–5PM
Sunday, January 22, 10AM–5PM
Guitar Maker and woodworker Bill Sterling will lead this exciting new class. Students will build their own Ukulele from start to finish, and leave with an instrument they can play for years to come. This is a great chance for students to try making musical instruments while learning fundamental woodworking skills in the shop. This opportunity can be a great holiday gift for a recipient who is passionate about music or for someone looking to pick up a new hobby. Have fun, make stuff, and play music. What could be better? This class will take place in the classroom at the HRMM Wooden Boat School located at 86 Rondout Landing in Kingston.
Wood Carving: Marine & Signboard
Back by popular demand, woodworker, boat builder, and woodcarver Andrew Willner will offer a course of practical and decorative woodcarving using basic carving tools and woodworking skills. This class will take place Friday, December 9, Saturday December 10, Friday December 16 & Saturday December 17. 5:30PM-9:00PM Fridays & 9:00AM-5:00PM Saturdays. This course will demonstrate a variety of carving and woodworking techniques including tool sharpening and maintenance, design, drawing and layout, incised lettering, low and high relief carving, and much more. The first project for all students will be a sign for home or boat with incised lettering and decorative feather ends. Returning students are welcome to try their hand at more complex or difficult carvings.
General Registration: $375
Individual Member Registration: $350
Household Member & Above: $335
Materials Fee: $30
Want to read more about carving lettering? Here is an excerpt from a fabulous article in Fine Woodworking You can download the full PDF here.
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
The aphorism "A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats" was first popularized by John F. Kennedy in a speech 1963 and is usually applied to economics.
However, let's imagine applications for the concept of a rising tide lifting all boats, or people, in the maritime universe. If we welcome more boats into our racing fleet, doesn’t that improve the level of competition? If we invite more people from different backgrounds to come sailing with us, doesn’t that suggest the probability that we'll have a wider range of talents and gifts among sailors on the boat?
If we welcome sailors from previously underrepresented communities into sailing, might we discover previously untapped talent? Might all participants grow by learning about diverse cultures? Might we begin to heal the divisions that exist in our society today?
This concept is the motivation behind our work with the Women on the Water sailing program, AdventureSail, sailing program scholarships and other initiatives.
The concept also underlies our sixth annual Riverport Women's Sailing Conference, which is a joint program with The Sailing School at HRMM and Kingston Sailing Club. We pivoted to virtual events in 2020 and 2021, but we are excited to return to an in-person format for the sixth annual conference on Saturday, March 25, 2023. Please mark your calendars!
All presenters will be expert women mariners, and the thrust of the conference is to introduce women to sailing, build people's sailing skills, and boost sailors' confidence in a woman-centric environment. All women are encouraged to attend, and we are open to male participants joining us as well.
Let’s inspire each other. Let’s work together to solve problems, bridge gaps and learn from each other. We hope you will join us on March 25, 2023.
For more information, please go to https://www.hrmm.org/riverport-womens-sailing-conference.html.
During the past month, the support of HRMM staff and volunteers who have come out to help the Sailing School with Fall boat work has been inspiring! Volunteers have cleaned boats and sails, organized equipment, repaired boats, and put away boats for winter.
Our fleet consists of two keel boats, two Capri centerboard boats, One Snipe centerboard boat, three 420 centerboard boats, one Catboat (Tidbit), and eight Optimist Pram centerboard boats. That is a lot of boats to care for! The boats all get a lot of use during the sailing season, with many of the boats being sailed up to seven days a week during our four month season. Normal wear and tear is intensified by the high number of sailing students and classes aboard our boats, and there are a LOT of repairs needed at the end of this season.
Thanks to our wonderful sailing instructors (Instructor Betsy in witch costume is pictured above) and HRMM staff, we have created a robust list of work tasks to be done, and we have accomplished some of these tasks, but we have many remaining over the winter and into the spring of 2023 in order to be ready for next season.
All sailboat owners know (new boat owners will learn this quickly) that part of owning a sailboat means doing maintenance and repairs. If you are interested in learning more about how to care for sailboats, want to meet some really cool people, and have fun working on projects with staff and other volunteers, please let us know by going to https://www.hrmm.org/volunteer.html to let us know you’d like to volunteer! If you are not able to physically volunteer but would like to support the maintenance of our sailing school fleet, please check out our wish list and donate here if you are able: https://www.hrmm.org/wish-list.html .
We love our volunteers, and we look forward to continuing to work together to ready our boats for the 2023 season and bring sailing to many more people in the future. Thank you!
The Harkness Family at HRMM
Photo Above: The Author's son Joshua at the helm in New Foundland
Article by Jonathan Harkness
I joined the Hudson River Maritime Museum after seeing the focus on women in the Sailing School. My earlier experiences on sailboats were with obnoxious, privileged, and often drunk, white men. I was more into adventure and not drinking on boats and instead ventured off to do other things over the years.
However, I purchased our family’s keel boat in the spring of 2021, in an effort to find a family activity in which we could all participate and hopefully inspire some new adventures and acquisition of additional skills. Your WOW activities were great for Vicki, and the three of us took an adult sailing class together in the summer of 2021, which was a great family bonding and learning experience.
Vicki and I enjoyed attending the Riverport Women’s Sailing Conference remotely in November, 2021. As a matter of fact, our son Joshua’s college, The College of the Atlantic, also joined the conference, and he was able to participate from Maine as well.
Then I attended the Captain’s License course at HRMM in March, 2022.
Later in the spring of 2022, we joined the HRMM remote lecture with Tracy Edwards, and we were able to tour Maiden when the famous vessel came to Kingston in June, we met Tracy Edwards and participated in the Kingston Sailing Club Welcomes Maiden barbecue. These were all amazing experiences.
Since building our skills through The Sailing School at HRMM, Joshua and I crewed on a friend’s 28 foot Bristol Channel Cutter doing coastal cruising from Glovertown, NewFoundland to St. Johns, Newfoundland this summer. Our adventure included one all night sail, at 20 knots of wind, begun at 2 am, to avoid an impending storm. Joshua and I were on watch by ourselves, all night, with just a brief check-in, by the captain.
Since that trip, Joshua and I have been asked to consider being crew members on a trip to Greenland with a friend who has sailed to northern Labrador.
We are so glad that Vicki and I created these opportunities for Joshua who said that he and his girlfriend now have a goal of completing a transatlantic crossing to Scotland and Ireland after college graduation.
The Sailing School at HRMM’s enthusiasm for sailing and focus on inclusivity have thoroughly inspired Vicki, Joshua, and me. Thank you!
By Jonathan Harkness
Photo Above: The author's son Joshua fishing in New Foundland
Staff and volunteers of the Hudson River Maritime Museum's Wooden Boat School and Sailing & Rowing School.
Hudson River Maritime Museum
50 Rondout Landing
Kingston, NY 12401
The Hudson River Maritime Museum is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of the maritime history of the Hudson River, its tributaries, and related industries.
Become a member and receive benefits like unlimited free museum admission, discounts on classes, programs, and in the museum store, plus invitations to members-only events.
The Hudson River Maritime Museum receives no federal, state, or municipal funding except through competitive, project-based grants. Your donation helps support our mission of education and preservation.