I had the honor of being the Editor-in-Chief of the first ever Women Who Sail Newsletter for seven issues. I recently left that role due to stress and health concerns, I stretched myself too thin this year. I love WWS, and as many know, the group was partially responsible for me staying in sailing. You should definitely subscribe to their newsletter and if you are a woman or non-binary sailor, join their group.
Along with my other duties as an editor, I was also gifted a column which was a continuation of my Dear Skipper Jenn category on this site. My rubric was to be kind, informative, and funny on an array of topics. I hope it’s helpful for you.
DEAR SKIPPER JENN, I don’t get it, why do we need women only spaces and events? Isn’t that excluding men when what we want is to be included? How does this help women move forward?
Dear Confused About Inclusivity,
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive from people—you are not alone.
…Far too often I hear women tell stories of being sexually harassed or belittled on the water. Far too often I hear stories of women being passed over, ignored, or not given credit for their efforts. Far too often I read comments in mixed-gender forums that are rude and offensive, or of women who are trolled and sent sexually explicit messages on the side.
DEAR SKIPPER JENN, Please explain to me how to cope this year. With sailing season ending and the US elections coming up, I am not sure I can take anymore.
Dear WTF 2020,
…No one can predict the future, but disaster response research and data have given us a pretty good outline of what to expect for our mental health, and what to do about it. Here’s the bad news: we will most likely be in and out of quarantine for the next 2-5 years, or until we get an effective vaccine. Here’s the good news: we can predict the behavioral and emotional phases we will potentially go through and prepare for this ongoing shit-storm as best as we can. I do not report the following to bring more fear, but to educate. We are sailors, the forecast is bad, but we have navigation on how to batten down the hatches and gather the right mental and emotional supplies.
DEAR SKIPPER JENN, I am angry, scared, and feel hopeless about climate change. I want to sail in clean waters with healthy ecosystems and reliable weather patterns. How do I cope and keep going when I am not sure what the world, our weather, and the ecology will look like in 10-20 years?
Dear Hopeless Over Climate Change,
…you are not alone. I get it. Let’s come together in our grief and anxiety to support one another for a better future. The beauty of modern life is experiencing just how much we are a global community. More than ever, we have an opportunity to tap into our collective compassion and humanity. More than ever, we need the feelers, the dreamers, and the visionaries to come together and build great things. If you feel hopeless it is because you care deeply and have a big heart. You are not too sensitive; you are not overreacting; you are paying attention. I hope that you find ways to balance the knife’s edge of caring and action versus hopelessness and overwhelm. More than ever, we need you not to give up.
DEAR SKIPPER JENN, I am crew aboard a race boat with a Skipper who yells. He’s a super nice guy when we are at dock, then as soon as we get out on the water he is constantly swearing at the crew. He tends to single a couple of us out and shouts out obvious and repetitive orders the whole race. At the end of the day, he acts like nothing has happened and we crack beers and laugh. People shrug it off and say, “It’s just him,” but it annoys me and sometimes really upsets me because he calls names on occasion. What should I do?
Dear My Skipper is a Yeller,
Oh boy, I think many of us have sailed with this guy at one point or another. What always fascinates me is not just the yelling, but how the whole group puts up with it and enables it. This is not effective teamwork; your Skipper needs help. Let’s start with some basic framework of why some Skipper’s yell and what really good Skippers and teams do.
2020 has been hard. Everyone has experienced loss in one way or another…Each of the voices you will read are vulnerable, unique, and relatable touchpoints of shared humanity.
Parting from her usual column Dear Skipper Jenn, we hear why our Editor-in-Chief chose the theme of Grief and Loss for December. As a mental health therapist, she also gives us some additional resources and framework for grief.
This is my first season cruising full time with my partner and I have found that we argue a lot on the boat. We argue about big things and stupid things. I feel like I can’t get away from his bad moods. I love him a lot, I have always dreamed of cruising, but I am starting to hate sailing because of this and question our relationship. Can you help?
Have you seen that meme that says, “I’m sorry for what I said when we were docking?” I’ve lived that out more times than I would like to admit. Cruising couples are a unique breed, with potential for extraordinary bonding and teamwork, and disastrous emotional shipwrecks.