Women in Boating: Ladies Take the Helm

Women have long been the primary influencers when it comes to boat buying. Even in the era of boating being a “man’s sport,” women controlled the checkbook.

These days, however, women are increasingly researching boats online and are keen to take the wheel themselves. They’re also a driving force on the industry side. Read on to learn more about these five strong, women boaters who are among those making waves, and worth your attention.

Allison Anderson, Social Media Influencer

Allison Anderson turned passions for solo travel and making goofy videos with friends into a career. Her YouTube channel, which has 537,000 subscribers, chronicles her adventures. Funny enough, despite growing up enjoying boating, she hadn’t considered venturing from the dock by herself until recently.

Her first solo boating trip, thanks for Discover Boating, was on Priest Lake, Idaho. She also took a subsequent boating trip to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where she confesses, “When I was growing up in this region, I thought it was the most boring place in the entire world.”

The beauty of the lake, the peaceful ambience, great waterside dining, and more clearly changed her mind.

Capt. Sandy Yawn, Below Deck Mediterranean

While the reality-TV show brought her to fame, Capt. Sandy Yawn has been breaking down barriers for decades. She’s among the few female captains in yachting, for instance, with 30 years of maritime experience. She also earned a reputation, and industry accolades, for calm leadership well before the TV cameras started rolling (Google her name and “Red Sea pirates”).

When the Below Deck producers came calling, she saw the show as an opportunity to reach people who knew nothing about the lifestyle, and educate them about the vacation and professional opportunities. Since then, she’s booked speaking engagements about women empowerment, and launched a scholarship program for those wanting to break into yachting, among other things.

Betty Bauman, Ladies Let's Go Fishing

Betty Bauman grew up fishing in Pennsylvania. When she landed a job in the boating industry, she rediscovered her love for the sport, yet often found herself the “token” female on trips. A fishing-association convention in the 1990s changed everything. When she learned there that the number of anglers was declining and women represented an untapped market, she got the idea to shake things up.

Bauman created Ladies Let’s Go Fishing (LLGF) in 1997, for women to get hands-on lessons in a no-intimidation, no-yelling environment. Today, it’s the largest organization in the world focused on introducing women to fishing, simultaneously teaching conservation and responsible angling. LLGF has more than 5,000 graduates, and counting.

Brooke Cottle Palmer, Mermaid Monster

Brooke Cottle Palmer and her husband Brandon dreamed of buying and moving aboard a boat. Two years ago, they looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it,” and Brooke obtained her captain’s license. They bought a 55-foot trawler, moved aboard in July 2018, and haven’t looked back since.

Each week, they and their children, Rooney and Penn—plus their two dogs—share the highs and lows of living aboard Mermaid Monster on their YouTube channel. Brooke is director, cinematographer, film editor, and of course mom, documenting the highs and lows. From scary storms to her children learning life lessons that can’t come from books, this Mermaid Monster mama shares it all with 21,600 subscribers.

Jenny Matthews, She of the Sea

Jenny Matthews was a deckhand for eight years when she passed her exam to become an Officer of the Watch—and soon realized she’d never worked with another female deck crew member. Surely, she figured, more women had to be out there.

With a fellow female crew member, Matthews started She of the Sea in 2018 as a community to connect female deck and engineering crew. It quickly transformed into an organization focused on cultivating equality and celebrating diversity, with global support from shoreside companies and crew of every rank. Supporting members sign a formal pledge to diversify their companies, in measurable ways. Furthermore, She of the Sea collaborates with schools and STEM programs to open young women’s eyes to potential careers.

Are You Ready to Take the Helm?

You can be your own source of inspiration, too. Check out our Go Boating Today Tool to find ways to get out on the water. Also check out our Education and Training resources guide.

Read Next: How to Start Boating: Breaking Down Barriers


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