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A resource for women in Outdoor Education and Recreation

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Gear Resources
Gear manufacturers have realised that lots of women like the outdoors and they're different shapes from men. Here's what's out there, and where you can buy it.

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Travel Resources
A selection of travel resources especially for women who love to travel. Includes a list of online communities if you do it yourself, or companies if you need a little help.

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Surfing Resources
Listed here are some links to resources from all over the world that cater to women who love surfing.

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Hiking Resources
Extended walks are great for the mind and spirit and lots of women love to take part in them. Check out these resources and get inspired to go on a walking adventure.

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Snow Sports

Snow Sports Resources
Skiing, snowboarding, backcountry, polar expeditions - all done in the snow and all done by lots of amazing women.  Check out these resources to find out more...

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Kayaking Resources
White water, surfing, sea kayaking, sprint racing, marathon racing, multisport, fishing...is there anything you can't do from a kayak? Explore these resources!

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Cycling Resources
A list of resources for all sorts of cycling - mountain biking, road biking, touring, racing, recreation and commuting - all specific to women.

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Climbing Resources
Women can (and have) achieved incredible things in climbing. Listed in this section are a collection of climbing and moutaineering resources that are useful and inspiring for all climbers.

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A list of organisations that cater exclusively to women, or run trips exclusively for women. A great way to find a women-specific adventure in your area.

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Outdoor Industry

Outdoor Industry Resources
Looking for resources to help you plan programs, companies and organisations that cater for women or organisations you can join? Look no further...

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The Woman's Guide to Boating and Cooking

The Woman's Guide to Boating and CookingThe Woman's Guide to Boating & Cooking
By Lael Morgan
The Bond Wheelwright Company (1968; 1974)

Back in the 60’s when this book was first written, women were starting to assert themselves and some of our most significant outdoor pioneers were proving that women can be just more than just the people who keep the home fires burning.  Lael Morgan, author of The Woman’s Guide to Boating and Cooking, kept her home fires burning for two years on a thirty-six foot schooner and learnt enough along the way to put together this practical sailing guide and cookbook.  I spotted this little treasure at a Garage Sale, and (quite fittingly) managed to get it thrown in free with a $3 saucepan, which has also turned out to be a good purchase.

Lael Morgan began her sailing career at the age of twenty-seven, after marrying a husband who loved sailing.  After agreeing they should see the world, they spent two years sailing down the east coast of the USA to the Bahamas, over to the Caribbean, the West Indies and home to Alaska via Venezuela, Colombia, Panama and Hawaii.  The Woman’s Guide to Boating and Cooking was written as a result of her experiences and is a collection of tips and ‘household hints’ for the practical, seafaring wife, similar to a housekeeping manual from that time but with a nautical theme.  Although there are a quite a few phrases that will make any self-respecting modern woman cringe and a hideous First Aid chapter by a sailing physician that is best left unread, the book is well written, very entertaining and contains a lot of useful tips on the practicalities of living at sea.  

Boating and Cooking on the Stove“With good basic training and faith in the skipper, a woman aboard can be a considerable asset”, says the author in her first chapter (entitled ‘Able-Bodied Seawoman’).  Despite the fact that women “tend to understand less, frighten more easily, and be irritatingly overcautious”, Morgan says that with a good general knowledge of sailing procedures and a willingness to work your passage (because “skill in the galley can compensate for underdeveloped biceps” and there are other jobs that can be delegated to a “willing weakling”), women can be excellent crew and can participate in most aspects of a sailing adventure.  Ms Morgan believes it’s very important to learn something about the technicalities of sailing and boats in order to be a useful crew member, and she has used her “two years before the mast” to determine which skills are useful - the skills that took her from “absolute greenhorn to salt”.

However, the book is not just about sailing.  Among chapters about packing techniques, nautical terms, flags, rope crafts, distress signals, navigation and safety rules, there are chapters about fashion, interior decorating, entertaining, cleaning and, of course, cooking.  There are also tips for taking children aboard, including a fantastic story about a couple successfully instilling a love of fishing in their three year old, and developing an unusual amount of patience in the young boy by leaving the hook off his line!

In ‘Fashion Afloat’ we learn that sometimes chic must be sacrificed for safety and all boating wear should be the ultimate in practicality.  While Morgan suggests that dresses and heels should be included and packed for those occasions when you might be entertained at a yacht club, these should be carefully packed away to avoid infestation by moths, dry rot, mould or corroded zippers while they are stored.  She recommends washing clothes in the dinghy, saltwater shampooing and cleansing regularly with face cream - and says that the finest fashion accessory is “the glow of health”!

In ‘Boatkeeping v. Housekeeping’ we learn what to add to the shopping list, and that the washing up must always be done straight after the meal just in case a storm blows in.  ‘Boat Interior Decorating’ is written by a guest contributor, and suggests testing paint and varnish samples by applying as many types of stains as you can think of, then trying to clean them off.  One of my favourite quotes in the book was in this chapter: “A neutral green fights with nothing, so, according to my mood, I can dress as I please.  If you think all this is foolish on a boat, I must ask why.  I don’t think there is a woman alive, regardless of age or wealth, who doesn’t like an admiring glance with a second good look, so, windblown as we may be, sans makeup, let’s give ourselves a break!”  Apparently I’ve been mistaken to entertain dressed in my black pants because my living room is based on a white and blue colour scheme, thanks to the blue op shop chairs and the white walls.  Incidentally, I read this to my partner (a sailor himself) and he was horrified that green was being used to decorate a boat in the first place, which is apparently bad luck.

The Book and the SaucepanThe recipes and the tips for keeping a good galley take up a good third of the book.  As Morgan says, “the engine room is vital…the helm and tiller make your course [but] morale, and thus the fate of your craft, most often depends on the galley”.  She recommends dehydrated food, transferring from glass to plastic and varnishing tins.  The beverages are based on a lot of alcohol, and include a recipe for ‘Brew-It-Yourself Potato Wine’ and a vicious looking concoction called ‘Walk the Plank’.  There’s even a way of baking bread without an oven and a recipe for stewed shark.  Right at the end of the ‘Shiphold Hints’ chapter, which includes tips on how to rid hands of onion smell, scrub a chicken, kill cockroaches and cleaning clams, there is this little gem: To Secure A Baby: Hem him in with fishnet.

I thoroughly enjoyed chuckling my way through most of The Woman’s Guide, apart from one galling chapter titled ‘Wifely First Aid at Sea’, written by a guest contributor who is a physician as well as a yachtsman.  The chapter is riddled with references to the helplessness, idiocy and general pathetic nature of women.  For example: “chances are, you are one of those women who sit back and marvel with wifely adoration at their husband’s navigational skills”; “if you are like most of the wives I know, you would have no faintest notion of the boat’s position, or even which one of the charts he had been using”;  “your natural instinct will be to kneel by his prostrate form and administer first aid. (Are you all right, darling…Darling!)”;  “…it is part of your responsibility [that] he doesn’t allow himself a touch too much of his favourite beverage”; “sprains are much easier to manage, much less traumatic to the nervous system of the anxious wife”; “[your husband] got along just dandy in [the days before he married you] without the fancy cooking and the fussy housekeeping which have been your contribution to his vacations.”  According to this esteemed doctor and his masculine “naturally superior intelligence and objective unimpassioned point of view”, women should (against their better nature) venture out of the galley and endeavour to help out a little.  Dr. Yachtsman is most definitely a man from a different era and I sincerely hope that we’ve left that era behind.  But that’s probably just my inferior intelligence and emotional point of view coming through.

Lael MorganThe Woman’s Guide to Boating and Cooking is not just an interesting read, it’s also a fascinating look at how much the way in which women are viewed by our society has changed in the last 40-50 years.  Lael Morgan’s view is that “any woman who loves her man and isn’t a total homebody can enjoy a cruise if she has some idea of what she’s in for”.  While she obviously believes that what she’s in for will be packing, cooking, cleaning and looking after her husband, she also recognises that her knowledge of boats and sailing is also very important, and the has included this information in the book to great success.  Apart from the chapter by the insufferable yachting doctor, the book is informative, easy to read and entertaining - look out for it at a Garage Sale near you!

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