Love Seattle’s Duck Dodge? (Now you don’t have to) Skip it next week.

UPDATE: 

I appreciate the DD Race Committee’s reconsideration and response to the July 17th theme I took issue with, they have decided to remove the theme.
 
Writing to 48° North Sailing Magazine and on my own blog allowed me to reflect and work through my opinion, solidifying my beliefs and ambitions for the Seattle sailing community. I was given the opportunity to express this opinion and drive others to discuss something that clearly struck a chord.
 
I believe more than ever we can hold ourselves to a higher standard, especially in our recreation and have a lot of fun without it being at the expense of others. Thanks to everyone who read, shared and talked about what is best on-and-off the water, you made a difference.

Happy Summer, Seattle Sailors! If you’re like me, you’re love/sun/beer drunk about this time of the year. Late evenings, eager crew and only half the layers. Yes, sailing in Seattle is great, but sailing in Seattle during summer is unrivaled.

There is one blemish on my summer sailing schedule, though. Earlier this year, Duck Dodge Race Committee decided July 17th’s theme would be “Pimps and Ladies of the Night.” I think this theme is absolutely unacceptable and compromises the fun atmosphere of Duck Dudge and a sailing community that is constantly trying to grow and “get more people on the water.”

Not sure what “Duck Dodge” is? Read my summary from 2014 on Fremont Universe.

Initially, my reaction was to shrug it off. Then, I overheard that this title was a revised version. My indignation quickly rose as I thought, “They looked at this theme, reconsidered it and yet they still put it on the schedule with the name only slightly tweaked?!” The F-bombs flowed after this realization.

I was not alone. As friends of both genders and various levels of sailing experience bemoaned the insensitive, offensiveness and “fratiness” of the theme, I wondered “how can we change it?”

Why does this matter? In my mind, it is often too easy to continue with the politically incorrect, simply because “that’s the way it is.” Think I’m too p.c.? Too bad. I believe in behaving the way things should be, not the way “they just are”.

I first approached this situation as a recurring practice that needed to be disrupted. However, after learning about the lack of precedence, I felt dismayed that in 2018, after the record-breaking Women’s Marches, prominence of #MeToo and day-to-day discussion of diversity and inclusion, this is what Seattle’s most popular Race Committee chooses.

In May, I composed my thoughts and emailed the contact on Duck Dodge’s website with the subject “Feedback from a fellow sailor”. A week later, with no response yet from DD Race Committee, I shared my opinion to the editor of 48º North and the following was published in the magazine’s June issue:

48º North June 2018 - Duck Dodge Letter to the Editor

But that’s not the end. Later in May, after the June issue had gone to press, I did receive a response from the Duck Dodge Race Committee.

In summary, they referenced the challenge of pleasing a community of over 2,000 sailors and the fact that the theme has appeared several times in the past. They did say the theme would stay on the 2018 schedule but removed from the greater list of rotating themes that organizers pull from each year.

I was happy to hear the theme would be retired but also disappointed that it could not be changed almost 8 weeks out, especially with the plethora of additional themes at their disposal. My response follows:
Hiya,
Thank you for your response and consideration. I’m happy to hear that the theme will not reappear in the future and will skip Duck Dodge on July 17th in favor of an evening with a theme I’m more on board with. 
With a long list of themes at your disposal, I sincerely hope you’ll keep my input in mind and try to view 2019’s themes from a diverse set of perspectives. It truly is impossible to appease everyone but I believe focusing on themes that uplift our community, such as Pink Boat, is an incredible opportunity and will make Duck Dodge even better for years to come.
– Cara

So now what? Well, there are two parts.

Part 1: I’m calling it a “sail-in”

First, consider skipping Duck Dodge on Tuesday, July 17 this year. I will be at the dock with an amazing crew, discussing what we hope for the future of our sailing community and welcoming landlubbers aboard. A casual “sail-in” if you will, with all the other best parts of Duck Dodges: drinks, laughs and nerdy sailing jokes.

If you do sail next Tuesday, please do me a favor and skip this theme. Look around on the water and think about how lucky we are to be out, on sailboats in Lake Union during the middle of a Seattle boom. How can we share this with more people?

Part 2: DD RC, you can do better

Second, I’d like to take issue with the Duck Dodge Committee’s reference that “Pimps and Ladies of the Night” or similar versions have appeared multiple times at Duck Dodge in the past. While that may be true over Duck Dodge’s 44-year history, it does not appear to be the precedent in the last decade.

Based on my research, the theme “Pimps and Ladies of the Nights” or similar has not appeared in the last 10 years. The closest specter I can find is a “Tart & Vicars” night in 2011 when overall, the themes appear to undergo a revival.

 

My advice to the DD RC is to just stop and think about it. That includes looking around and thinking about the composition of the race committee: Does this group reflect our greater community?

Thanks for reading. I hope to see you on the dock on July 17th.
– Cara

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Women’s Day @ the Seattle Boat Show

I had the immense pleasure of scooting out of work early on Monday, January 31 for Women’s Day at the Seattle Boat Show. This was my second year attending and this time it wasn’t just as a female boater but as a reporter.

Last year, after about 10 minutes in the audience at the Northwest Women in Boating panel I thought, “this is SO cool, these women are SO amazing! Why isn’t the media covering this?” Then it occurred to me, I could be the media.

I started taking notes furiously on my phone, snapped a picture of the speakers at the end and a few days later, sent a recap off to 48° North Magazine. To this day, I still think about the presenters I wrote about here.

This year, I went back with a new perspective, seeking out the stories and inspiring perspectives I knew would come together at this flagship maritime industry event. I wasn’t disappointed and frankly, I could’ve written even more.

However, I only donned my reporter hat for an afternoon and it was a fun, fascinating exercise I hope to practice again soon. In the meantime, enjoy my coverage from Women’s Day 2018 at the Seattle Boat Show.

Nice to meet you, Felicity Ann

This September we enjoyed one of Western Washington’s many festivals that shine a light on the unique culture that has been cultivated here. There’s the Tulip Festival in Burlington, the Lavender Festival in Sequim, Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Salmon Days in Issaquah and our destination: The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend.

3 days where boat nerds gather with beer gardens, maritime talks, gussied up boats on display, tall ships gliding by and a wooden boat building competition. It draws people with a deep passion for boats and their friends who didn’t know there were so many kinds of boats but like beer.

Soon after arriving, I saw the pleasing lines of a petite, spruced-up sailboat. Her white hull was partially obscured by scaffolding and signage. Unlike the other vessels, this boat held a place of honor, situated on a trailer in the very center of the festival grounds. Named Felicity Ann, she deserved to take center stage with a future almost as interesting as her past.

Built 68 years ago, Felicity Ann is a 23-foot long wooden sailboat originally named Pied Piper (I think Felicity Ann suits much better). Felicity Ann was Ann Davison’s vessel during her historic solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1953. Think of Ann Davison as sailing’s Amelia Earhart but keep in mind, Earhart’s craft of choice was 25′ longer than Davison’s and never made contact with the water.

Ann DavisonAnn Davison
b. 1914
Set sail from Plymouth, England on May 18, 1952
Began Atlantic passage from the Canary Islands on November 20, 1952
Arrived in Dominica on January 23, 1953, after 65 days at sea
Her journey is detailed in the autobiography My Ship is So Small 

Felicity Ann not only represents a milestone for women, it also represents the potential of collaboration. In this case, the collaboration of the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building (NWSWBB) and the Community Boat Project.

Credit is also due to an Alaskan owner who revived the boat from obscurity and began a partial restoration. NWSWBB and the Community Boat Project’s inspiring partnership continued his efforts and brought her to the Wooden Boat Festival for a fitting, post-restoration debut.

But Felicity Ann‘s voyage is not yet done. She will be sailed as an on-the-water training platform focused on empowering women, youth and other members of the community. Pretty damn cool.

My bookshelf houses the accounts of several other pioneering female sailors:

M. Wylie Blanchett, a widow who cruised the rugged British Columbia coast each summer with her children aboard a 25-foot vessel as early as 1927.

Naomi James who in 1977 at age twenty-nine, sailed single-handedly around the world via Cape Horn and did it faster than the original record holder, Sir Francis Chichester.

Tania Aebi who at eighteen, chose a 26′ sailboat over college and learned not only how to sail but who she was, all while becoming the youngest solo-circumnavigator at the time.

Her experience inspired Laura Dekker, who entered the records books in 2010 and remains the youngest person to sail around the world solo. I was exceptionally inspired by her humility and focus after our lunch together. In addition to her book, the documentary about her trip called Maidentrip is a great watch for ladies, and lads, of all ages.

But, Ann Davison was a new name to me. I’m so glad I’ve learned about her story and met Felicity Ann.


See Felicity Ann‘s new website here. She didn’t have that in 1953!

Learn about the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building here.

Learn about the Community Boat Project here.

And check out this video about Felicity Ann’s restoration (mind you, it was a fundraising teaser):

The New Northwest Passage

I could see the towering ice, imagine the unrelenting cold and felt in awe of the Arctic. Yet, the whole time I was sitting at my corner desk, tucked beneath the window and looking out on some of Seattle’s darkest and rainiest days.

For two weeks, while writing The New Northwest Passage: Century-old Challenges and Modern Day Changes in the Arctic, I immersed myself in another incredible tangent of sailing culture. Some (smart, tan, sane) people sail south, others never leave, but an inspirational handful sail north on a journey that can be more challenging than crossing an ocean.

Although it was tricky to track some of these adventurous souls down, I am very grateful to Dario Schwöerer, Harry SternMark Schrader, Michael Johnson and Guirec Soudée took for the time to speak with me. What does this group of various ages, experience-level and nationalities have in common? Crewing aboard one of the 193 vessels to have ever transited the Northwest Passage.

Thank you also to Victor Wejer, recent recipient of the OCC Award of Merit, who helped provide such up-to-date transit data (how many vessels have completed the Northwest Passage, how many were sailboats, which way they transited, etc.) that to my knowledge, it has not been published anywhere else.

So, take a break from this latitude and head north, very far north, in my latest contribution to 48° North on page 30 of the February issue.

Cheers,
Cara

Image: Voyage d’Yvinec/Guirec Soudée

Crossfire’s Close Call

While I have sailed across the Pacific, I can’t imagine racing across it; let alone in a 55-foot high-performance custom race boat like CrossfireLast month, I interviewed navigator Bruce Hedrick and boat manager Nigel Barron about Crossfire‘s 2016 Vic-Maui race and subsequent retirement.

The skills, logistics, and dedication required of both boat and crew to participate in a race such as Vic-Maui are impressive. By all accounts the resulting experience is one-of-a-kind and well worth the effort.

Bruce and Nigel’s extensive experience, natural comradery, and well-honed storytelling skills made this a great interview. Although I found their technical knowledge daunting, the core of this story is about good seamanship, teamwork, and instincts gained from years of sailing. I was also encouraged because, like many other sailors they agree, “there’s always more to learn.”

Read more in my latest contribution from the December issue of 48° North“Failing to Safety: Crossfire and Vic-Maui 2016”

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Lunch with Laura

Last month, I had the opportunity to visit the Portland Yacht Club with 48° North Editor Joe Cline and interview the world’s youngest solo circumnavigator. Most sailors reaction: “Woah, cool.” Most non-sailors reaction: “What does that mean?”

It means the quiet and thoughtful 21-year old woman having lunch across the table from me traveled 36,000 nautical miles, approximately one and half times around the world, on a 4o-foot sailboat by herself. Oh, and she did most of it between the ages of 14 and 16.

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Myself, solo circumnavigator Laura Dekker, and 48 North Editor Joe Cline.

From misunderstanding peers to lawsuits, boat refits to breakdowns, fierce storms to great loneliness, Laura Dekker experienced more in her first sixteen years than many do in a lifetime. Age is an abstract concept when speaking with Laura. I can imagine many describe her as an “old soul.” Knowing what I was like at ages 14, 16, and even 21 makes what she has accomplished even more impressive and thought-provoking.

20161006_152422
Walking the docks with Laura, this was her first visit to Portland, OR.

Regardless of the age of her soul, Laura is an incredibly unique person with a broad horizon of possibilities ahead of her. As she continues to travel, sail and occasionally speak, she shares her unconventional upbringing aboard boats, experiences exploring the world, and perhaps most importantly, her time spent alone with the ocean.

I completed my first long-distance sailing trip last year across the Pacific Ocean (Laura has sailed across twice!) and some days, as I go about my life here in Seattle it’s hard to imagine I did that and experienced such a different way of life. Laura remembers her trip with vivid detail but she is selective in the interviews and presentations she gives because it is her trip, her experience, and only the beginning of an adventurous life.

I sincerely appreciate Laura taking the time to have lunch and a long conversation with myself and Joe. It was entertaining, enlightening, and she’s a damn good sailor. Read my Q&A with Laura Dekker in the November issue of 48° North here, page 22.

For sailors and non-sailors alike check out Maidentrip, a documentary that follows Laura’s journey during her record-breaking solo circumnavigation.

Recently Published – The Wiring Whisperer & The Top 10 Sailing Movies

The new year didn’t truly set in for me until mid-January. I’m a little behind, I guess!

A48-north-january-2016-covert the beginning of January my latest profile for 48° North, Dan Hopkins: The Wiring Whisperer, appeared in the January issue of the print magazine. A retired electrician and experienced liveaboard, Dan is a “guiding light” in his community helping new liveaboards safely update their electrical systems and install heat this winter.

It was such a pleasure speaking with Dan, his wife Irene, and the appreciative neighbors he has helped. I learned so much about marine electrical, boat ownership, and the camaraderie of the boating community.

Read The Wiring Whisperer here.

Mid-January was an especially exciting time; I began a new job! My big present this holiday season was being offered, and enthusiastically accepting, the position of Marketing and Advertising Coordinator with GeekWire, an online tech and business publication based in Seattle.

GeekWire logoMy transition kept me on my toes. I left my previous job one Friday and reported for duty at my new job the next Monday, the time has been flying ever since! In addition to working with members, assisting with events, coordinating advertising and more, I curate two weekly posts, GeekWire Calendar Picks and GeekWork Picks.

GeekWire boasts an amazing editorial team and covers a very diverse range of topics, be sure to check it out!

Lastly, this new year has brought an exciting new phase for a publication I’ve worked closely with for several years now. 48° North launched a new website with even more great content for the NW sailing community. Congratulations to the team at 48° North!

For the occasion, I explored what nautical entertainment had to offer and compiled my Top 10 Sailing Movies, check out Part 1 (10-6) here. A couple of my favorite new features are the Editor’s Picks and #TBT. Now you can enjoy even more of the magazine “By Sailors, For Sailors.” 

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