The Farr 58-foot ocean racing yacht Maiden that competed in the 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race with an all-female crew will be arriving in Long Beach on at 3 p.m. Saturday Nov. 2. The vessel is on a two-year round the world tour to raise awareness and money for girls' education around the world.
Following Saturday’s arrival, from 5-9 p.m. Commodore Marie Rogers of Los Angeles YC is hosting the team for an informal chat about the documentary, "Maiden," and the vessel’s route. There will be light nibbles, and a no-host bar. All are welcome and there is a suggested $20 donation to the Maiden Foundation for those attending. Reserve your spot at LAYC.org.
From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Pine Avenue Pier near Shoreline Village, Maiden will be open for tours on board. The boat is tricked out for round the world cruising in comfort, and the crew will be on hand to answer questions. They also have a spinnaker that children at each port of call add their handprint to.
There are professional sailors on board, as well as the opportunity for amateurs, like myself, to join the crew for various legs. These “guest sailors” make a donation to the Maiden Foundation. For the one night leg between Monterey and Santa Barbara, I signed on as a guest.
Before boarding, I felt old, skill-less, and like the grandfather in "Peter and the Wolf" — a lumbering bassoon. The six women on board made my experience an incredible inspirational journey and I encourage every woman sailor to grab your “foulies” and sign up for a leg.
As we approached the Monterey bell buoy, watching senior crew member Belle (Belinda Henry) jumping the halyard and almost single-handedly hoist the main was my first clue this team is like no other.
During the tour, skippering duties are shared by an incredible collective of record breaking female skippers. For my “over-nighter” the skipper was Australian Wendo (Wendy Tuck). In 2018, she became the first female skipper to win a round-the-world yacht race. She also has competed in 11 Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht races.
One of the highlights of my time on board was when Wendo sat in the companionway sharing Jack Welch-caliber “lessons learned” stories of her journey to becoming a winning skipper and how the attitude of the leader impacts the crew and racing results. She lives the Maiden motto of, “Anything is Possible.”
The crew watch system at sea they use is "Modified Swedish" with 4 hours on, 6 off with a new crew member on deck every two hours. A crew member on shift gently wakens the next one on watch.
Meila, (Amalia Infante ) the on-board reporter and prize winning photographer, made me a cup of instant Columbian coffee, with rice milk, as I bundled up for my watch. I felt like a 3-year-old readying to play in the snow, as she helped me secure my offshore lifejacket and harness.
My watch time was with Erica Lush, a 12-meter America’s Cup boat captain who is fluent in Arabic, and Courtney Koos, who is the yacht’s engineer. They dazzled me with their knack at explaining complex concepts in understandable terms.
After my midnight to 4 a.m. watch, I crawled into my narrow berth and cocooned in. Mack (Mackenna Edwards-Mair), legendary Maiden skipper Tracy Edwards' daughter, who serves as the tour’s event coordinator, was sound asleep in the bunk above me.
Soon afterward, Wendo started checking the engine compartment, the belt, hoses and fluid levels. After securing the hatch, she remained on her hands and knees as she thoroughly scrubbed the cabin sole. The cleanliness of the yacht is maintained as part of the rhythm on board and rules like no hair brushing below deck maintain the standard.
Tuck’s bunk is adjacent to the Nav Station and she catnaps on a bean bag near the hatch during inclement weather. There is a posted list of when to wake her — vessels nearby, whales that could impact safety, or dragons. Her clever wit continues in the most serious of subjects.
At each “Open Boat” tour speaking engagement, the crew meets local fans who have seen the documentary or have an interest. What amazes me is how they connect with visitors, even recalling the names and details later.
And then they sail on.