Teaching Sailing

Sailing is my passion, and teaching others how to capture the wind and feel the magic when their boat glides through the water is one of my life’s great joys. I’ve taught professionally at many different sailing schools, but recently I’ve been volunteering at some local yacht clubs, and in June I traveled to Marblehead, Massachusetts, where I learned to sail as a teenager, to participate in the annual Women’s Sailing Conference. Here is an article from a local newspaper and website in which I was quoted.

Corinthian Yacht Club hosted 17th Annual Women’s Sailing Conference

By Laurie Fullerton

Marblehead, Mass., June 6, 2018 — The 17th annual Women’s Sailing Conference held at the Corinthian Yacht Club this past Saturday not only showcased how far women have come in sailing but also illustrated how confidence building is almost as important as teaching the basics.

As women continue to network for more sailing opportunities and new sailing friends on many levels, the conference is the perfect environment to do so with nearly 50 percent of the attendees attending for the first time.

Co-chairs Joan Thayer and Cheryl Steiner and the committee spend the fall determining the program and getting the volunteer workshop leaders and coaches to bring women together for a day to build confidence in their sailing skills and knowledge. Many return each year to hone skills and share what they learned over the course of the sailing season.

“Women in sailing is something that is still growing and is still not where it should be,” said sailing writer and former editor of Offshore Magazine Betsy Haggerty. “I believe that women still need more opportunities to sail and gain confidence. This whole event is really about confidence building more than teaching and sometimes women just need to be in this supportive environment.”

Haggerty volunteered at the event as a coach for “Take the Helm” which put women at the tiller and out on the water in Sonars or a Colgate 26.

You can read the full article here

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Kindergartners Learn about Navigation aboard the Historic Lighthouse Tender Lilac

Museum director Mary Habstritt tells the children about the ship’s work as a U.S.C.G Lighthouse Tender from 1933 to 1972.

Museum director Mary Habstritt tells the children about the ship’s work as a U.S.C.G Lighthouse Tender from 1933 to 1972.

It’s a safe bet that the kindergartners at Downtown Manhattan’s PS 234 know more about watercraft and waterways than the average New Yorker. Since March the school’s five kindergarten classes have been learning about water transportation of all kinds.

“Manhattan is an island,” teacher Francine Cornelius explained, “so the children who live here should know about boats,” noting that they offer opportunities for math, science, reading and social studies lessons. The program, which runs through June, includes trips on the Staten Island Ferry as well as a small cross-Hudson commuter ferry, a visit to the kayaks at the Downtown Boathouse, hands-on buoyancy tests, model boat building, walks along waterfront to watch river traffic and lots and lots of reading about boats.

On a damp morning in mid-May the five- and six-year-olds from Cornelius’s class clambered up the gangway to the boat deck of the steamship Lilac, a 174-foot historic ship docked at Hudson River Park Pier 25, where museum director Mary Habstritt (Captain Mary to the kids) told them about the ship’s work bringing supplies to lighthouses and maintaining navigation buoys.

The historic steamship Lilac, where I volunteer as a museum docent, is docked at Hudson River Park Pier 25 in Lower Manhattan and is open to the public on weekends.

The historic steamship Lilac, where I volunteer as a museum docent, is docked at Hudson River Park Pier 25 in Lower Manhattan and is open to the public on weekends.

Pointing to the swirl of black stripes on one lighthouse and the horizontal red bands on another, Habstritt explained that lighthouses are painted in different colors so they can help tell a ship where it is. “Sailors know if they see this black and white one, they must be in North Carolina,” she said, adding that at night the lights on these “tall skinny buildings” blink at different speeds to warn ships away from dangerous rocks and point to safe channels. What would happen, she asked, if a ship got lost. “It might crash into the rocks and sink,” one boy said. “Yes!” Habstritt said, and then went on to explain that Lilac was important because its job was to take care of the lighthouses and other aids to navigation that show sailors where it is safe to go.

The children followed Habstritt to the ship’s bridge where they looked at a nautical chart, learned about the ship’s old-fashioned communication equipment and took turns pretend-steering at Lilac’s wooden wheel. As they got ready to leave, one boy who had visited Lilac before asked his all-important question: “Are we going to get tattoos?”

“Yes,” Habstritt replied as she got ready for the next group of visitors. “Your teacher has enough [temporary] Lilac tattoos for everyone.”

Lilac, which celebrated its 85th birthday on May 26, is the last surviving steam-propelled lighthouse tender in America and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During its active career from 1933 until 1972—first for the U.S. Lighthouse Service and then for the U.S. Coast Guard—it carried supplies to lighthouses and their keepers and maintained the buoys and range lights that guide ships and boats into harbors and away from rocks and reefs. It was acquired by the nonprofit Lilac Preservation Project in 2003 and has been docked at Pier 25 since 2011 while undergoing restoration. The ship is open to the public on weekends, and it frequently hosts school and summer camp groups. Close to 8,000 people visited in 2017.

Lilac is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. A special exhibit “Innerspace Microsculptures,” a selection of photographs of Hudson River phytoplankton by Andrew Paul Leonard, will be on view through July 31 and is co-sponsored by the ship’s environmental partner, The River Project. For more information, visit lilacpreservationproject.org.

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Shared Harbor Day

Last Saturday I attended “Shared Harbor Day” in New York City.  My article on the conference appears on Workboat’s website.  Click here to read it.

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New Website Launched March 29

Betsyhaggerty.com is now live, thanks to the good work of web designer Susan Fowler of Fast Smart Web Design. I have created  the site to be a snapshot of the work I’ve done over the years as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and writer and communications professional.  More material will appear at time permits.

On March 31 I will be giving a workshop, called Cruising 101, Prep, Planning and Life Underway, at the Riverport Women’s Sailing Conference at the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston, NY.   More on that next week.

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