boats, sunset

Boats against the Cozumel sunset

I went to a get-to-know-you meeting today at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron today for the all-women’s sailing group, the Luffing Lassies. I first learned about this group when we moved here last summer, but they only take new members in September so I was too late.

Nine months on the waiting list and they’re opening up again, looking for 10 women to join their ranks in September when the sailing season starts. There are about 25 of us who expressed interest, so we won’t all get in this year either.

There were 5 of us that toured the property today, met several members of the group and were introduced to the Sunfish sailboats that are the Lassie’s chosen craft. At 130 lbs they are small, simple to rig and good for beginners. They are also used in regatta racing, which is what the Luffing Lassie’s use them for.

The Sunfish sail boat.

The chance to learn to sail is good, to ride the wind and the water is exhilarating and I’ve always loved the simplicity of a sail boat over a power boat, it’s harmony with the elements instead of trying to overpower them with a motor. The chance to sail, to race, to bond with other women is even better. I like that they aren’t just offering to teach us to sail, they are bringing us into their tribe of sailing sisters and teaching us what that tribe is all about by teaching us to race and putting us in their regatta.

Joining the Lassies isn’t just a chance to learn a skill on the water, it’s also putting that skill to use, being given a purpose for it and a comradery with other women who share that interest and love of the sea. It’s more than a new hobby, it’s a new commitment, and a new home.

During introductions the women who have been there for years referred to it as “Sacred Thursday.”

It’s the one day each week that no doctor’s appointments can be made on, no meetings can be scheduled, no visitors are welcome. If something breaks around the house the repairman has to wait until Friday to come fix it. It’s time away from the rest of the world, time each woman takes to refresh herself in the sea and the company of other women.

Listening to them, I wanted that. Not just the sailing but the belonging, the sisterhood, and the precious, rare day that is just for me. A day I don’t have to run kids or walk the dogs or restock the fridge or catch-up on laundry. A day I don’t have to think about what anyone else needs.

I’ve done some lessons on a Hobie Wave, a little catamaran big enough for my husband and I to sail together. Sometimes the kids rode along too when they were little. In Iowa we mostly sat on the boat waiting for the breeze to pick up enough to move us around, but when we started learning on Sarasota Bay we were delighted to find that there is a lot more wind.

Trust me, more wind is more fun.

It’s good for us to do it together, as a family or as a date with my husband, but a part of me is always watching him, wondering if he is having fun or just going along. I don’t engage fully because I’m always worried about everyone else, something that I think a lot of women can relate to.

I need to do it by myself this time.

I’ve wanted to learn to sail for years, but taking lessons here and there with no real end goal has felt like dabbling. The Luffing Lassies are giving me a chance to get serious about sailing, and I am not at all surprised to find that some of them have been part of the group for more than a decade, some joining because their mothers were members. They come from all over, but the bond they form here keeps them with the Lassies season after season.

Sailing on my own in a boat that I am completely responsible for piloting is intimidating and thrilling at the same time. Just me, no instructor onboard, no room for my husband or kids. When I do this I’m doing it for myself, and that is a big part of the appeal.

Sacred Thursday is a day for a woman to find herself, dance among her sisters and the waves while she lets everyone else in the world go for a little while. I can’t think of any church that could be better.