What a great year it has been so far! We kicked off January with another gathering in Fall City, Washington for the second year of the She Sails Meetup. We also registered as a nonprofit, and are poised to contribute to the community more than ever before! And in a few weeks we will be at WIML at Cal Maritime in Vallejo, mingling with friends and enjoying some career-enriching presentations. I hope you can join in on the festivities, but if you aren't able to make it, follow along with us and we'll do our best to report on it for you!
She Sails 2019 Recap
Possibly the most incredible thing about this year's She Sails group is that everyone who attended the 2018 meetup returned the following year. Every single woman who was there last year came back for round two. How is that for positive feedback? Last year we left feeling like the meetup had been a life-changing experience, and this year a few new attendees got to enjoy the same benefits that we did the first time around.
Leading up to this year's retreat, we asked attendees of the 2018 meetup to talk about the things they loved most about the event, and here is what they said:
"The opportunity to meet and connect with some creative, inspirational, and supportive women. Not only pertaining to the maritime industry but in general. Also, the location and the lodge. It’s beautiful and just so peaceful out there."
"I loved all the informal conversations. It was truly special to have found a community."
"Favorite things about she sails 2018: meeting women I still talk to regularly, obtaining the feeling that I am so not alone in this industry! There are so many others like me. I gained so much more from that retreat than any conference because it was so intimate and it felt like everyone was on the same level as humans, able to share experience and advice freely. Megan made it so welcoming and warm and I seriously can’t wait for January."
As we came away from the meetup last month, attendees - both new and returning - had plenty more to say about what the experience meant to them.
Sea Sisters contributor Aurora was a first-time attendee this year, and I asked her specifically to recount what the meetup meant for her personally as well as professionally:
"She Sails was a powerful exhale after holding my breath for months. I’m not saying this for dramatic effect. You know when you have an issue that makes you feel vulnerable and then someone else casually and fearlessly admits that they have that same issue? That is the magic you get when you put a group of women together in a bunkhouse, especially a group of women who work in the merchant marine. You find validation for things you hadn’t realized you’d felt conflicted about. You get support you didn’t know existed. You get the kind of respect and encouragement that can only come from someone who has also looked at a crew list and thought, 'yep, no one to ask for an emergency tampon here.'
Gathering with more than a dozen other merchant mariner women for a weekend felt like hitting a reset button. Coming off a 75 day hitch at sea, facing various challenges, I desperately needed to be allowed to be myself, without fear of repercussion. I got that and much, much more in Fall City. I gained a support network of strong, persistent, determined, and inspiring women.
I think the biggest way that this retreat has and will help me professionally is that I now have a much greater network of people outside of my job who want to see me succeed and will help me do that however they are able. In fact, that has already begun, and what an incredible gift it is."
There were other attendees with warm words for the organizers:
"Every year is put together so beautifully and thoughtfully by Megan and Beth and I walk away with more motivation for my career and more lady-sailor friends than I've ever had. Such an amazing gift to spend an entire weekend with these people, exchanging sea stories, laughing hysterically, kicking back and solving problems in a relaxed environment. Y'all are with me all year round despite us being in different parts of the world and I'm so grateful."
"She Sails 2019 has come to an end and just like last year I’m coming away from it with some new sailor friends who are equal parts inspirational, badass, and loving. Plus I got to see every single lady from our last gathering — which is actually amazing since we came from all over AND all have pretty busy sailing schedules. It was meant to be!!!"
I don't think there is much more I can say except THANK YOU, Megan, and we look forward to many years of She Sails Meetups.