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Women’s Sailing Seminar Celebrates 30 Years

What happens to a yacht club when their landlord evicts them from their rented clubhouse and their members watch their former home get demolished? Do they hang their heads and whimper, shuffling away with a tear in their eye and a deep sigh of defeat? Or do they carry on with almost all of their activities — while also adapting to COVID vicissitudes — showing enthusiasm, esprit de corps and a flair for fun? If the club in question is Island Yacht Club, previously tenants at Alameda Marina, well, read on for the answer.

Northern California Women’s Sailing Seminar

This year’s sold-out weekend-long Women’s Sailing Seminar was based out of Afterguard Sailing Academy on September 10-11. What a huge endeavor and feat of organization! “We had 58 students participating — and roughly 40 instructors, boat owners and volunteers,” reports IYC’s commodore, Ros de Vries.

The students and volunteers gathered for the opening remarks at Afterguard Sailing Academy.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Afterguard, located along Oakland’s Embarcadero, occupies a large warehouse-like building. Spaces within serve different purposes: a rack of El Toros here, a quiver of surfboards there, a cozy reading nook in the corner, a galley over there, small classrooms upstairs — and here’s a fuzzy cat ready to pet.


On Saturday morning, the students and volunteers assembled for a continental breakfast buffet. Ros de Vries, the ringmaster of the whole event, welcomed the crowd. Carliane Johnson, the only woman to race in the 2018 Singlehanded Transpacific Race from San Francisco Bay to Hanalei Bay, gave the keynote address. Carliane had just completed the 2022 Pacific Cup with an all-woman crew. Next up, WSS co-founder Linda Newland received the Leadership in Women’s Sailing award from the National Women’s Sailing Association. Afterguard’s owner, Mary Swift-Swan, wrapped up the welcomes, and it was off to a morning of classroom instruction.

Linda Newland award
Debbie Huntsman, 2021 President of the National Women’s Sailing Association; Linda Newland; and IYC commodore Ros de Vries.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

This year’s seminar included Crew Essentials for beginners and Taking the Helm in Intermediate Cruising or Racing. The shoreside classes ranged from terminology to knots to diesel engine maintenance to Bay Area destinations to racing rules.

Learning boat parts
Crew Essentials students learn about the parts of a sailboat in a Saturday morning class from Naomi Emmerson, aka the Desert Sailor. “She flew out from Las Vegas to teach,” says Ros.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Knots station
The knots practice station.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

Afterward, students gathered up lunches and met their skippers and instructors on the docks. Although all of the instructors were women, some of the volunteers were men, including boat owners who took the sailors out on the water.

On Saturday afternoon, students practiced boat handling skills on the water. After they put the boats away, participants reconvened for a learning station (How to Buy a Boat) and the seminar’s 30th anniversary party with dinner and live music by the fabulous Ukemamas, an all-female band. An auction and a flare demo were included too.

Ukemamas performing
The Ukemamas harmonized for the crowd on Saturday evening.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris


Sunday began with an early-morning yoga session, breakfast and a knots demo. Then Captain Anne McIntyre spoke about her career as a bar pilot.

Anne McIntyre
A graduate of Cal Maritime Academy in Vallejo, Capt. Anne McIntyre spoke about her career as a bar pilot, chiefly on the very tricky Columbia River.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

By mid-morning, all gathered on the boats for a longer day on the water. The cruisers headed out to the main Bay, while the Racing students competed in an actual regatta on the Estuary, organized by Nathalie Criou.

Sailing under the Bay Bridge
Bridget Eastman at the helm of Jim Dumas’s Farr 1020 Tramp Boat, with the Bay Bridge in the background. Bridget came down from Washington for the seminar.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Boats racing in front of Coast Guard cutter
Racing on the Estuary Sunday afternoon, for the Intermediate Racing track.
© 2022 Steve Bayles

Back on land, the live auction resumed, and all said their goodbyes — until next year!

Auction items
Auction items on display.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris
Live auction
The live auction itself was quite entertaining, even if you weren’t bidding.
© 2022 Latitude 38 Media LLC / Chris

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