Inviting More Women Sailors Into Offshore Passagemaking

59° North Invites More Women Sailors Into Offshore Passagemaking

The offshore sailing adventure company, 59° North Sailing, will now reserve two bunks for women on its offshore sailing passages. The company’s professional sailing staff  is equally divided between men and women, and they believe that this action will trend the paying crew’s gender ratio toward equality. As past crew member, Dave McKay, wrote: “Otherwise, we are missing the talents and contributions of half the population.”

Katelyn Helmuth at the helm with watchmate Bec Clark, sailing across the North Sea. Photo by Emma Garschagen

Historically, 25 percent of 59° North Sailing’s paying sailing crew have been women. The staff has learned that the risk of there being no women, or just one woman, on the crew can be a barrier for some. Past crew Laura Ladenheim said, “I was the only woman on my trip. It was still wonderful, but I do think it would have been great to have another female present.”

For crew who have already signed up for a trip with 59° North Sailing, your spot is secure. This change will be implemented for all future passages with open bunks. 59° North cannot guarantee there will be two women on every trip, as there is always the risk of unfilled spaces or last-minute cancellations. However, 59° North Sailing intends to actively encourage and empower women into offshore sailing, actively seek out women to fill these spaces, and encourage their crew to do so. They aim to fill at least one of the skipper/mate roles with a professional sailor who is a woman.

If the company is unable to fill the two reserved spaces with women, they will not fill them with men, irrespective of the demand. This is a values-based decision; they are not prepared to undermine their goal of making sailing more inclusive in order to make small financial gains.

59° North passages are simply more fun and more inspiring the more diverse the crew. They have had men and women of all ages and nationalities sail onboard. Inevitably, the diverse trips are the most memorable. 59° North believes that taking this small step will not only attract more women to our sport, but will also attract more people of all backgrounds who share their values and want to sail with them. Find more at