Boat Education / June 21, 2021

Women and boating: Wellness on the water

Women and boating

It’s been over fifty years since the perennial, best-selling book, The Curve of Time was first published. Late author, Muriel Wylie-Blanchet chronicled her boating adventures, with her five children on a 25-foot boat, as they explored British Columbia’s vast coastlines over 15 summers beginning in 1926. Muriel was a widow, so she alone, captained the boat, with her children and the occasional pet dog, as her crew. It’s no surprise that Muriel’s book has inspired many women over the years to adopt boating as their lifelong passion.

In celebration of the 53rd anniversary of this much-loved boating memoir, let’s focus on boating for today’s women and the wonderful health benefits that come along with it.

Wellness on the water

There’s a reason why sound machines and relaxation apps feature water sounds like ocean waves, gently flowing rivers, and babbling creeks: our souls love it! Just the sight and sound of water can reduce our stress by lowering the cortisol stress hormone in our bodies.

A 2019 study from the University of Exeter Medical School in the United Kingdom found that people who live near the ocean are 22 percent less likely to report depression and anxiety symptoms than those who remain inland. Positive effects from interaction with water were especially high for lower-income households.

In a 2018 Canadian study, the risk of mortality was lower by 17 percent for people living closer to the water. The protective effects of being near bodies of water were “especially noteworthy among women and older adults.” And just like that, the term “Blue Health” was born.

Boating does magical things for our brains. Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, marine biologist and author of Blue Mind, the bestselling book on the scientific connection between water and happiness explains that boating will trigger a “restful, blue mind.”

When boating, you are calmer, more at peace, your joy and your playfulness are both taken up a notch, and you are directly plugged into nature.

Ladies, what are we waiting for?

Your boating goals

If you don’t own a boat yet, no worries, there are so many resources for women and boating. There are plenty of places to rent a boat right now; the sooner you prepare yourself, the sooner you’ll be able to take advantage of those amazing health benefits that go hand in hand with boating.’s “Women at the Helm” webpage recommends the first step to take is getting your Pleasure Craft Operator’s Card (PCOC), a mandatory certification for all powerboat operators in Canada. A Transport Canada-approved boater safety course like is a great place to take the course online to obtain a PCOC.

Next, enroll in a boating course that will increase your confidence. For women that already boat with a partner that captain’s the boat, a boating course will increase your “crew” skills that will come in handy should you have to take over the helm.

Women on the water

Long-time boating industry expert and self-described “boat-a-holic,” Lori Mason founded Women on the Water (WOW) in Toronto in 2008. Her goal was simple; connect women and boating and connect with other women, introduce them to the boating lifestyle, help expand their boating skills and increase their confidence. Although Lori recently retired WOW, she still has some great advice.

For women planning to operate a boat, solely, or boat with a partner that’s the captain, Lori offers:

“Eight things you need to know as a woman in an emergency,”
How to stop and start the engine.
How to put the boat into gear (forward, neutral, and reverse).
How to drop an anchor “just in case” of engine problems close to shore.
How to call for help on the VHF radio.
How to read the chartplotter to get your position and know where the MOB button is for a man overboard emergency.
How to get someone back on board.
How to, and when to, shoot a flare.
How to find and use the various pieces of safety equipment: fire extinguishers, PFD’s, safety kits, abandon ship kits, etc.

Just for you

For a woman new to boating, resources are plentiful. In fact, the Toronto International Boat Show even hosts a Women’s day during the annual event. Seminars, guest speakers, and interactive sessions, all organized just for women to increase their knowledge and skills as a boater. Another great option for women sailors of Toronto? Check out Toronto Island’s, Royal Canadian Yacht Club which provides a special social sailing program for women sailors.

West coast women looking for more instruction in the art of sailing should know that Vancouver Island is a hot spot for specific courses just for women. The Women only Sailing Course hosted by Nanaimo Yacht Charters offers a five-day course. Imagine gaining sailing skills and experience with other like-minded women around the world-renowned Gulf Islands?

If the idea of sailing around Belize, Baja, Mexico, Greece, or the Virgin Islands “floats your boat,” then connecting with Herizen Adventures for Women Sailing School, also in Nanaimo, is your first step. Circumnavigating Vancouver Island is also an option, for women wanting to stay closer to home.

On the southern end of Vancouver Island, Sidney’s Cooper Boating offer a Cruise and Learn boating course for women only – no experience necessary. Under the guidance of an experienced and qualified Sail Canada Instructor, women will learn to sail, practice essential docking and navigating skills, maneuvering vessels under sail and power, while surrounded by stunning scenery.

Boating for women has transformed in more ways than the late Muriel Wylie-Blanchet could have ever imagined. However, a woman’s desire for boating and adventure will always remain timeless.

Resources for Women and boating

The science behind boating
The Blue Mind by Dr. Wallace J. Nichols
Discover Boating: Women at the Helm
Lori Mason asks; Women on the water, are you prepared?
Toronto International Boat Show Women’s Day
Toronto Island RCYC
Nanaimo Yacht Charters
Herizen Life Adventures
Discover Boating: the boating lifestyle
Learn about different boat types
Top 10 safety practices while boating


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