Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron’s first women’s boating course taught by women was held this March. These are the instructors and students of the VHF Marine Radio course. The second course offered was a basic boating course to obtain the Pleasure Craft Operator certificate. Back row: Jane Kerr, Kiana Thistlewaite, Barb Hammer (instructor), Sheryl Eaton, Delores Peters and Eileen Phillips (education coordinator); Front row: Helen Hull (instructor) and Carol Sheehan. Photo submitted

New program encourages women to take up boating

Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron is offering a program for women boaters, taught by women

While boating continues to be a male-dominated activity, a new program run through Cape Lazo Power and Sail Squadron is trying to change that.

The squadron’s first boating courses for women, taught by women recently wrapped up with six students between the ages of 16 and 65 coming out with new skills and knowledge. This is the first boating program dedicated to women in the area, and education coordinator, Eileen Phillips thinks it could be unique across Canada too.

While the first iteration just focused on the basics – one-day basic boating and radio courses – the squadron has plans to add more courses for women to their offerings. The program was held in mid-March and will return next spring.

“Why not?” said Phillips when asked why she decided to champion this unique program.

“Some people don’t have a problem taking this course with men, but some people feel more comfortable within just a group of women.”

Phillips bought her first boat, a 25-foot sailboat, about 10 years ago. Even though she had never even left the dock in a sailboat before, for years it had been her dream to learn how to operate a boat. She did much of her sailing alone to begin with as she grew in skill until she began to meet other women who were also boating enthusiasts.

“I think there’s a comradery that happens with women… and it really creates confidence in stepping forward and taking an active part on a boat,” said Phillips. “Just in general, I think it’s important for women to have a tribe of women.”

One of the instructors, Helen Hull, is the squadron’s most experienced instructor and has sailed offshore in many places around the world. But when she first became involved in boating 47 years ago, she was restricted by her gender.

Hull joined the squadron in 1972 as an associate member with her husband as women were not allowed to be members at that time. It wasn’t until about five years later that the rules changed to allow women to become full members of the organization.

Phillips says Hull brings exceptional experience and knowledge to the squadron and the new women’s programming. Right now there are three female instructors and Phillips hopes to bring more advanced courses, such as charting, and tides and currents, to the program next spring.

But that isn’t the only change coming to the squadron. Phillips is also currently working on a program for youth and teens to teach them the basics of boating, first aid, fire safety and give valuable pre-employment experience and school credits. This program is expected to be ready for the spring of 2020.

For more information about any of these programs, contact

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Comox Change the Debate event set for Wednesday night in Marina Park

Event in solidarity with others across Canada to demand a leaders’ debate on climate change on CBC

Waiting game for Cumberland cannabis licence hopefuls

Applicants gained local support but are going through checks with province

Comox Valley’s music fest feels like ‘best ever’ to organizer

Vancouver Island Music Festival didn’t sell out but still saw strong turnout

Comox cadet spends summer servicing aircraft

Cadet Warrant Officer Second Class Mitchell Mansfield from Comox, is spending his… Continue reading

New producer at the helm for Comox Nautical Days

Nautical Days has a new producer, but those planning on attending the… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. MLA Michelle Stilwell takes first steps in nearly 30 years

‘It actually felt like walking. It’s been 27 years… but it felt realistic to me’

Report of dead body in B.C. park actually headless sex doll

This discovery, made at Manning Park on July 10, led police to uncovering two other sex mannequins

Grand Forks fire chief found to have bullied, harassed volunteer firefighter: report

WorkSafeBC, third-party human resources investigation looking into allegations complete

Council restricts water bottling, adopts Urban Forest Strategy

Courtenay council adopted a bylaw Monday to restrict water bottling in all… Continue reading

Dog recovering after being drenched in hot coffee, B.C. man charged

Man was taken into custody, charged, and released pending a court date

Taekwondo instructor, 21, identified as B.C. bat rabies victim

Nick Major, 21, an instructor at Cascadia Martial Arts in Parksville

Science expedition to Canada’s largest underwater volcano departs Vancouver Island

Crews prepared for a two-week research mission to the Explorer Seamount

B.C. shipyard to get one-third of $1.5 billion frigate-repair contract

The federal government has promised to invest $7.5 billion to maintain the 12 frigates

15-year-old with imitation gun caused ‘dynamic’ scene at Nanaimo mall

No one was harmed in Monday’s incident, say Nanaimo RCMP

Most Read