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 capelazoeducation@gmail.com


jolene.rudisuela@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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