New adventures with the “Argon Collective”

In March 2019, I shared my advice for the Argon crew. By April 2019, I became part of that crew. Considering it now, I made the decision when I wrote that advice.

I didn’t just want to support this boat and crew, I wanted to be a part of it. As Calla, my partner-in-crime in many things, said, “If you care about something, if you want to support it, you put some fucking dollars behind it.” So I bought into Argon (with Calla) and now have two boats I think about, do projects on and most importantly, SAIL!

In 2019, Argon enjoyed a fresh coat of bottom paint, new varnish, some overnights and lots of evening sails.

So, what is the “Argon Collective“? It’s both nothing new but also something different. Boat co-ops have existed before but since this one has attracted some attention, I wrote about it for 48° North.

The issue also featured our dear friend Jeanne on the cover (aboard Argon) and my perspective as a woman on the water (page 40). I loved reading other perspectives and articles from women in boating but that one magazine issue only scratched the surface.

In the two months since that article was published, the Argon crew has come together for a wedding, several moves, finishing boat projects and of course, as many sails as we could squeeze in before the days became too short. We’ve been together for important moments, big and small and had a lot of fucking fun. That’s what keeps me coming back to the “Argon Collective.”

The Argon crew celebrating at Sam & Charlie’s wonderful and windy wedding!

Also since the September issue came out, we’ve heard from some big supporters and some big skeptics about our style and women in sailing. Of course, I’m disappointed to hear anything negative about something that brings us all such joy.

I am eager to continue the conversation about women in sailing and any kind of boating because our experience won’t change with one conversation, one magazine issue or one article. Most women in boating also have families, are in relationships, and pursue careers. That means that at any given time, we might be fighting for equality on several different fronts.

Argon’s first night sail during the full moon and first time rigging up the spinnaker!

After the Argon article, I received some amazing emails from women eager not only to sail more but to sail with more positive people. How can we ensure more people have a positive experience sailing? That’s been the challenge since I started teaching sailing and has only become more and more important.

I’m sure people have wondered about my decision to buy into Argon. Why didn’t I stay on the sidelines? Remain a coach or observer? Again, Calla said it best: “I didn’t just want to make a cameo as a helper, I wanted to be involved with something that amazing.”

Sailing on Argon has been amazing and I hope you’ll read our story…to date.

The Argon Collective

Going sailing starts with a decision. A decision to learn to sail, to join a crew or to buy a boat–so many choices lead you down the dock. Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re making that decision.

The morning after I agreed to buy into a partnership for Argon, a 1979 San Juan 24, I was hungover and second-guessing myself. The combination made me feel like I had a pit in my stomach.

Continue reading at 48north.com.

Advice for the crew of S/V Argon

It’s an exciting day! Today we celebrate the new co-owners of Argon, a 1979 San Juan 24 moored on Lake Union in the heart of Seattle. Like many new boat owners, these four women are at an exciting moment where they have a boat, a willingness to learn and a lot of adventure ahead.

I am always amazed by how many people buy sailboats without knowing how to sail yet. It’s a brave, bold and downright badass move. What determines if they stick with it and enjoy that bold move is what comes next. How they get through the very real challenges of sailing, boat ownership and being on the water.

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Sailing a lot, with lots of ladies

For me, 2018 is The Year of Lady Sailors. We stretched definitions, made monumental gains on the water and perhaps most importantly, reimagined sailing culture our way. This is the second of three short essays about women in boating. ~ a 6-minute read ~


A good sailor is an experienced sailor. The more time on the water, the more you know, the easier it is to stay two steps ahead and soon enough, you’re nerd-ing out with the rest of them.

Last year, a new friend of mine bought a boat and wanted to learn how to sail. A year went by without connecting, the tiller broke and luckily the boat moved to a marina closer to us. When I finally got onboard Argon, a San Juan 24, this spring it was with a purpose: To teach Sam how to sail her boat, to help her feel comfortable taking others out and have fun along the way.

There was no lesson plan, just a notebook I think we misplaced. I recruited Jeanne, who still teaches sailing, and we taught by doing it, figuring it out. You step on a new boat and it’s unexplored territory. With Argon, we explored together and had a blast.

“What’s this line do? Oh! Spinnaker halyard.”

“Hmm, there should be a cleat here, guess it runs that way…oh yeah, makes sense!”

“What a cozy slip you’re in. I mean, seems possible to back out so let’s try that.”

For several weeks, the three of us regularly took Argon out on Lake Union and hardly saw another boat. We experienced light wind, puffs and breeze from every direction. Some things got labeled, others were memorized and we encouraged Sam to do as much as she could on her own. Soon enough, she was sailing without us!

That would’ve been enough to make this year memorable. See, I believe anyone can learn to sail and do so confidently and safely on the water. What makes a sailor is a perfect storm: enthusiasm, a positive learning environment and enough great experiences you keep going.

I also believe that’s hard to come by, especially for women interested in sailing.

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Even in this ideal scenario, we experienced the sour side of boating. The sexism lurking just beneath the surface which is perpetuated by an older generation who knew a different world and a young generation that should know better.

A man on the dock once joked our departing boat and crew was “unlucky,” we didn’t laugh. Others not-so-subtly watched us from the corners of their eyes, questioning our approach because it was different than their own. Later in the summer, we were prepared to boycott Duck Dodge because the theme felt detached from reality. There are more opportunities for women in boating, but barriers and tasteless traditions still remain.

Long before I bought my boat, I dreamed about using it as a vehicle to teach other women to sail. Nothing formal, but to provide a vessel where more experienced sailors and those who are interested in sailing more could safely set out together. This summer, my dream came true.

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Ladies sailing trip 2018

On Friday, June 15, two sailing vessels (Argon and my boat Capi, a Catalina 34) departed from Shilshole to Poulsbo for the first annual ladies sailing weekend. For three days, nine women across two boats shared everything: space, dreams, food, wine boxes, knowledge, laughter and more than I can capture in this essay.

The weekend was humbling, inspiring, hilarious and, at one point, brought me to tears (the good kind). We navigated, we chatted, we set sails and we had space for our version of sailing. One friend learned at 6 a.m. she’d passed her nursing exam, another caught the sailing bug and another tested out her new kayak by paddling among harbor seals at night.

This weekend, more than six months since that trip, we are all getting together again and the excitement is feverish. When I think back to that June weekend, and every time on the water with these ladies, I know I’ve experienced something special and I can’t wait for more. We’re planning future sailing adventures and hopefully more perfect storms leading to more lady sailors.


I’m beginning a project for Women’s History Month (March 2019) and I need your input: What do female sailors want? Share your thoughts with me at ckuhlcat@gmail.com.