Whales, Tornadoes, Lightning… Oh My!

I have come to the realization that our trek across the Pacific Ocean from Hawaii to Vancouver for the Vic-Maui delivery is only a month away… wow. We will be sailing approximately 2,308 nautical miles or 4,275 km. Just to put that into perspective, it is 3,440 km to drive across Canada (cutting through the US). Yeah, that’s right.


Even though I have been on boats my whole life (or perhaps because I have been on boats my whole life), I am super nervous! A good nervous though. I mean I have training, great gear, a great boat, great crew mates, but… Mother Nature is in charge. Now THAT is something to be nervous, and in awe, about!

My youngest daughter asked me a tough question the other day: “Mommy, why do you have to do this trip?”, I replied “Well I don’t have to, but I want to”. Then she asked what she was really worried about: “What if you die?”.¬† Wow. Not that I haven’t actually processed that thought myself, but for her to be aware of that possibility made me a little anxious. It made me realize the stress that I was putting on my kids and the need for me to ensure that they realize just how safe I will be.

So, last night we played “Name a Disaster!” game. The kids threw scenarios at me and I walked through how I would overcome them and what gear I would need to be safe. This was actually pretty fun as it also had me brainstorming on how to avoid killer seagulls, giant whales attacking the boat, massive tornadoes, and even having all of my clothes blown overboard (that question came out of nowhere). I also talked to them about rigging failures, seasickness, crew injury, ion dissipater, and communications failures. We watched a few life raft deployment videos, discussed tethers and I also taught them about EPIRBs and different ways to call for help if your electronics are down. Overall it was pretty fun!

I stopped short of suggesting that we go see Adrift this weekend though… That might have changed their comfort level a bit … ūüôā

Fair winds,

Captain Penny



Feature image retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Safety gear images: author’s own photos

Sailboat with broken rig retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

Ion Dissipater drawing: clearly retrieved from some brilliant artist’s repertoire ūüôā

Anchoring Infographic

new-piktochart_30445125 (1)

Feature image retrieved from Flickr


Checking things off the list!

So I have taught several courses already this summer (looking forward to my July adventure/break!), and at the end of each course my students ask for a copy of my boat checklist. So, figured I’d just share it with you all! Here it is!

There are a few options out there for checklist, so here is another one from Sail Canada – Transport Canada – Combined Equipment Checklist.


Captain Penny




Gear Review: PFDs & Tethers

Alright, so the next area of major consideration for my Hawaii trip is my personal safety gear. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have adequate personal safety gear when embarking on a trip, not the boat owners. Therefore, I will need to update my PFD¬†(personal flotation device) and safety tether. There is no cutting corners in this area for me… making it home safely to my family is priority numero uno.


Image retrieved from Salus

For most of my Kootenay Lake sailing I prefer wearing my Salus kayaking PFD. Maybe it is from my years of dinghy sailing, but I feel most comfortable with it on. However, the more I sail out here the more I realize how hot it is in the Koots! So, I am looking to switch to something a little more heat friendly for my lake sailing which will also serve me well offshore…

Inflatable PFDs have become the norm for most boaters. Manufacturers have made some huge advancements in the area of design and reliability of these vests. I will never forget when they first came out and I watched one go off on a friend on the dock. Talk about a shock –¬† and pretty funny!


Image retrieved from Mustang Survival

Mustang Survival is currently the top Canadian approved inflatable PFD. They were one of the first to market with this device and are a “household” name in the boating industry. I would recommend their entry level inflatable for general purpose boating.

Now, there is always the debate about manual inflation vs auto inflation. There are pros and cons to both.¬†Manual inflation means that you have to pull a chord to initiate the inflation of the jacket. Therefore, you must be coherent and able bodied to do this. Auto inflation means that when the jacket is immersed in the water it will inflate on it’s own. Meaning that if you are unconscious, the jacket will inflate for you. Now, I have heard of sailors having their auto inflation jacket go off because they are hit with a big wave, so you will have to weigh your type of sailing with this particular drawback of the auto inflation model. I cannot speak to this yet, however I will let you know how my auto inflation PFD goes for the Hawaii delivery!


Image retrieved from Spinlock

Now that I have told you that Mustang is the top Canadian approved jacket, I have to confess that I purchased a non-Canadian approved inflatable PFD. The one that I purchased is from a UK-based company, Spinlock, and I purchased their Deckvest 5D Pro Sensor PFD. Why, you ask? Well after much discussion with colleagues and fellow boaters, this PFD is a clear winner in the fit, functionality and accessories department. When I completed my Personal Offshore Survival course recently it was clear that this PFD is a favourite.

The Deckvest is a significant purchase (at over $300 Canadian), however I know that this is a vital piece of personal safety gear for me that I will be using for many years to come. The vest includes the following:

  • Light, comfortable design for use over long periods
  • Water activated flashing LED Light
  • Lifejacket bladder illumination lights included
  • Deck safety harness with soft loop safety line attachment point
  • Double crotch straps
  • Sprayhood – to reduce the risk of secondary drowning
  • Quick access emergency safety line cutter (knife)
  • Unique ‚ÄėShoulder Fit System‚Äô flexes and locates ensuring correct fit on shoulders every time
  • Whistle
  • New back adjustment ‚Äď hidden and non snag for easy, simple adjustment
  • Manual override inflation tube

Images retrieved from Spinlock

The key pieces for me are the built in harness connector (for my safety tether… see below for my quick notes on that), the double crotch straps (see here on why it is important to have crotch straps), and then the others are all bonus items that make a big difference – cutter, light, whistle, adjustable straps and lift strap.

The downside of an inflatable PFD is that you must do some maintenance and upkeep with them to ensure that they are in good working order. You must keep a rearming kit on hand for if/when your PFD does inflate and you need to rearm it. For a checklist of what to do and when click here.

Tethers 1-0-1

Now a quick note about tethers. A tether is a line that keeps you attached to the boat. It will not stop you from falling off the boat, nor will it help you climb back up onto the boat. Most tethers have 2 lengths – short for when working on something close at hand (sitting near the bow and fiddling with a foresail sheet let’s say), and then long for when you are walking forward and aft on the boat. Most boats will have jacklines attached that run bow to stern or even tether anchor points on the boat for the crew to clip on to.


Image retrieved from Sailing Anarchy

For your tether it is important to purchase a system that a) works with your harness or in my case inflatable PFD with built-in harness; and b) works with the boat you will be sailing on. The biggest thing with tethers is to try and get your hands on some so you can see how the clipping system works and if the carabiners will work for you. Again, when I completed my Personal Offshore Survival course I was able to get my hands on several designs. I assumed that the typical West Marine tether would work for me, but I had a heck of a time getting the carabiners open. A bit of a problem if I need to unclip quickly or move quickly. I tried the Spinlock tether and found the carabiner much easier to manipulate. I also decided to go with the 3-clip tether as I did not want to have a permanent loop attached to my vest if I needed to unclip myself from my tether in an emergency (see this video). If I had the loop I would have to cut the tether, thus making it useless afterwards.

Images retrieved from Spinlock and Binnacle.com

You’ll notice in the image above the yellow tether (the one I call the West Marine tether) has a quick release clip which would attache to your harness. This allows you to unclip the tether if you are in an emergency and you need to release yourself.

So, there is much more that I could talk about for these items, but this is an overview for now. I will try and break down this post further into smaller segments at a later date.

Fair winds,

Captain Penny


Catching up over coffee

I have not forgotten about you all! I have just become so busy with Spring finally deciding to show up here in the Kootenays…

So, here’s an update: the first Basic Cruising course was held the first 2 weekends of April and my hearty crew had a blast! We managed to spend several days on the water with a great breeze despite the snow and rain.¬†Spindrift¬†was a very happy lady! We had great wind for crew overboard practice, heaving-to, reefing, anchoring for lunch breaks and lots of gybing and tacking. Phew.

I also recently completed the¬†Offshore Personal Survival Course¬†with the Vic-Maui team and really enjoyed it! I would highly recommend it as we had hands on practice with flares, rig cutting, raft deployment and cold water survival tips. I could look at seeing if they could bring this course to us in Nelson. If anyone is interested in doing this course¬†let me know¬†and I’ll see if I can arrange one locally for us.

I also managed to find a few of the crew who are joining us on Turnagain in July… Go Team Travis!

Turnagain scallywag crew: Duncan, Geoff and I!

I also recently worked with my colleagues at Simply Sailing to teach the Sail Canada Spinnaker Standard course. It was great to sail on the Coast again and we had some great collaborative teaching and exchange of knowledge to help finish up this new standard for Sail Canada.¬† I’ll be adding a spinnaker course to the Sail Nelson course arsenal towards the end of the summer!


Finally, I am still collecting all of my gear for my Maui-Vancouver boat delivery. You’ll be happy to know that MEC will not be going out of business anytime soon and that I am also doing my part to stimulate the local economy (yikes). I have just received my foul weather gear and my new inflatable lifejacket so I’ll be writing about those soon!

Fair winds,

Captain Penny

My happy place ūüôā



Gear Review – Base Layers

So, further to my blog on foul weather gear, I mentioned that I would follow up with a base layer gear review.

First we need to establish our wish list:

  • warm
  • breathable
  • low stink factor (since I’ll be wearing them a few times over the trip)
  • wicking
  • proper fit

Let’s look at the main fabrics used. The following information was retrieved from rei.com:

Synthetic Fabrics

One of the most common synthetic fabrics used for base layers is polyester. However, you may also find a combination of nylon, rayon or polypropelene. Synthetics have a bit of a spandex feel which give you a nice snug fit.

  • Super dry:¬†Synthetics excel at wicking and dissipating sweat, so they give you the driest feel of any type of fabric.
  • Durable:¬†No base layer is invincible; if you‚Äôre looking for your most durable option, though, then synthetics are your best bet.
  • Odor retention:¬†Some synthetics add a finish that inhibits the buildup of odor-causing bacteria, which helps. If you‚Äôll be going multiple days between washes, it helps to have some tolerance for stinkiness.

5/5 wicking             4/5 durability            3/5 odor- resistant

Merino Wool 

Merino wool is soft and has ultrafine fibers and is nothing like older wool clothing and blankets. Wool can also be blended with other fabrics, like spandex to enhance fit and flexibility. Merino wool has the following characteristics:

  • Wicks well:¬†Some moisture in wool is retained in its core, which won‚Äôt chill you, but wool will not feel quite as dry as a synthetic fabric. It¬†will also take longer to dry when it gets wet.
  • Breathable:¬†That moisture in the core of its fibers releases when temps heat up, which can offer a little bit of cooling in warm weather.
  • Moderately durable:¬†Wear it under other layers and enjoy a long and happy life together; as a standalone top under heavy pack straps, it won‚Äôt last as long because the constant rubbing can wear through the fabric. You can also opt for¬†a base layer¬†that blends synthetic and wool for increased durability.
  • Odor free:¬†Even if you don‚Äôt believe wool fanatics who report endless days of sweaty wear without a discouraging whiff, it‚Äôs absolutely true that wool is highly resistant (and naturally resistant) to odor-causing bacteria.

4/5 wicking            3/5 durability             5/5 odor-resistant


Silk is an ideal fabric for low-key activities like an easygoing fall hike or an evening concert outdoors. Silk has the following characteristics:

  • Moderate wicking:¬†If you don‚Äôt push your heart rate out of your target zone, you should be fine; some silk underwear has an added finish to improve wicking.
  • Suppleness:¬†Invariably available as a lightweight option, silk slips easily under other layers; the flipside is that it‚Äôs not especially durable.
  • Odor retention:¬†Silk is not naturally odor resistant, so it needs to be laundered every time your wear it.

2/5 wicking              2/5 durability               2/5 odor-resistant

Based on the above information, for my purposes I will be looking at Merino Wool or a Synthetic blend base layer.  Base layers are generally classified as follows:

  • Lightweight:¬†Moderate to cool¬†temps.
  • Midweight:¬†Cold temps.
  • Heavyweight:¬†Below-freezing temps.

It is also a great idea to wear several layers and adjust as needed. Most sailors wear a heavyweight or midweight base followed by a fleece. Then your foul weather gear. One of the principal goals is to remain dry. If you get wet from rain, spray or sweat, it will not take long for you to get cold.

Here are some options that I will be looking into:


Smartwool – seems to be a crowd pleaser and there are many options for the weight (heavy to light). This newer wool fabric is soft, wicks well and is odor-resistant. A typical warm base layer shirt will be about $110 while a pair of warm pants will be about $100. I tend to prefer a crew neck shirt as opposed to a zip up, but you can definitely get a full zip up to your chin. Smartwool seems to age well and should last you for several seasons.


UAUnder Armour¬†– The Under Armour¬†HeatGear line is a midweight line and there are several different styles of tops and pants. Their HeatGear line is synthetic (92% polyester & 8% elastane for fit) so it will last and maintain it’s shape. However, even with their anti-odor technology, you will be ripe after a few wears.¬† Their UA Base line is for aggressive cold and is their heavyweight line. It is also a synthetic blend of 95% polyester & 5% elastane. Prices vary depending on styles.


HHHelly Hansen РHH has a few options for base layers. The HH Lifa Merino line is their heavyweight base layer option. Their lightweight option is their HH Lifa Active line. HH has been creating base layers for athletes for quite some time now so their Lifa technology is on point. For my trip, I envision having a good lightweight and heavyweight option for layering and different weather conditions I may encounter.


5051003-TAU00Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) РI enjoy MEC products so I decided to include them in this review. MEC offers a Merino wool base layer line which would be your heavyweight option for warmth. They also offer a few different synthetic options ranging from lightweight to medium weight. Again, it will depend on style, fit, comfort and what you need the gear to do for you.


I hope this review has helped you navigate the various base layer fabrics and options available to you. The best way to determine what is right for you is to try on several different options to look for best fit and determine what you need for your specific activity (sailing, skiing, hiking, etc.).

Fair winds,

Captain Penny



Evenson, Laura. How to Choose Base Layers. Retrieved from: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/underwear.html.

Page photo credit: Photo retrieved from http://www.surfingthewaveoffashion.com/2013/07/sailing-with-musto.html.


Fitness: Getting Started & Variety

If you are like me, when it comes to your fitness routine you do a variety of things to keep yourself in shape and balanced. It might include yoga, strength work, running, sports, meditation and maybe even regular massage or chiropractor visits.

As I have my trip coming up this summer, I’m starting to work more on a regular fitness routine which includes stability, balance and core strength.

I previously shared a post of a home workout that Coach Lydia Di Francesco put together for Sail Nelson called A Sailor’s Workout. This is a great, fast and easy 15 min workout which can be used as a warm up to your day, or even a quick lunch workout.


But wait, there’s more!

I also have a few other tricks up my sleeve including my secret weapon: Robin Niderost.

Robin in my aunt and she is a conditioning coach for the Bietigheim Steelers a professional hockey team in Germany. Robin has been an athlete and professional fitness coach for many years and has worked with athletes from around the world in a multitude of disciplines. She was even recruited by Cirque du Soleil for her gymnastics skills!

Robin has created a workout playlist specifically for Sail Nelson students on her Facebook page MOVE, SWEAT, LIVE. The playlist is called Grip, Core & Mobility Sports! SAIL NELSON BC! and it includes over 40 videos to help with stability, mobility, balance, strength and much more. There is a huge variety of videos available from yoga, TRX, stability ball movements and even kettlebell workouts to suit different levels of abilities and needs. And, they are all FREE!

Starting a fitness journey can be intimidating and daunting sometimes. However, with a variety of tools and the videos at your disposal from Robin’s page you can get started and work your way through as you see fit. My routine includes the Short Yoga Flow – Hips & Back, followed by a core workout like Intense KB Grip & Core Combos, a TRX workout like the Basic/Balance Full Body TRX workout and then a cool down with a good stretch and roll out on my foam roller.

Which workouts have you tried and what did you like about them? Join Robin’s community and feel free to let her know what other workouts you may be interested in! I know I keep asking for more videos on specific things and she keeps making them! Hundreds are in her library and it’s been a great resource for me when I’m looking to mix it up.

I’ll be blogging about my workouts and nutrition as I go so stay tuned for more fitness tips and gear reviews!

Happy Training,

Captain Penny



Gear Review – Duffel Bags & Packing Cubes

Next gear review for trip prep: duffel bags & packing cubes!

Just as your foul weather gear selection is important, so is the bag that you use to transport everything. When I was living on a boat in Georgian Bay I used to drag around a hockey bag of all my things. Ridiculous! It was huge, impractical and way too bulky and awkward for me.

There have been many advancements in the functionality and fabrics used for duffel bags and luggage since the days when I dragged around my hockey bag. Again, I need to make my wish list to know what to look for:

  • large enough for foulies & boots
  • large zipper for access to entire bag
  • waterproof (ideal, but not mandatory)
  • laundry section (ideal, but not mandatory)
  • backpack straps
  • tough fabric (for rips, tears and throwing around)
  • bright colour (again, not mandatory, but ideal for standing out and quick airport pick ups)
  • straps or places to hook on extras (with carabiner or rope)

Here are some well-known options for me to explore further:

1. SealLine – Boundary Portage Pack


On first glance I love the colours, the straps, the waterproofness, and the size variations of the bags. However, I do not like that they are top access as I’d rather not have to pull everything out of the bag to access the pair of socks I need at the bottom.

However, SealLine do have some great dry packs for SUP and kayak trips and a good chart bag as well.

Zip Duffel
This duffel bag is not necessarily what I am looking for to pack up SealLine_Zip_75L_duffel-660x373_grandemy gear, however this would make a great grab bag as it is fully weatherproof and can be submersed (if you don’t know what that is, sign up for a course!).

In Nelson you can find these bags at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

2. The North Face – Base Camp Duffel


I am loving the size and colour of this duffel (it comes in other bright colours too). It also has a large top zipper for full bag access and the backpack straps as well as a luggage strap. It is built with solid materials and the zippers are weather sealed. It also has an interior mesh pocket which can be used for laundry. This duffel also has really great reviews on The North Face site so it seems to be a crowd pleaser.

Approx price: $210.00

3. Musto – Waterproof Dry Carryall 65L


This bag is large, watertight and does not have any zippers. It uses heat sealed seems for waterproofing and it uses a fold top instead of zippers for closure. There are several straps and also a viewing window so that you can easily see inside the bag to locate things. The reviews on this product on the Musto site are evenly split with concerns about the material not being tough enough.

Approx price: $200.00


4. Helly Hansen – HH Classic Duffel Bag


Once again, Helly Hansen makes a great product for sailors at a good price. This bag comes in several colours, sizes and has backpack straps. It has a waterproof main zipper with access to the entire bag, several straps on the outside to connect extra things to and an external compartment that can be used for laundry or storing wet items. Reviews from the HH site are favourable for this bag.

Approx price: $150.00

5. Osprey – Transporter 130


This looks like a great bag. Large, bright colours, various handles, full zipper to access items inside and straps for backpacking or luggage carrying. The material is “tough as nails” according to Osprey and there is an overlapping zipper to protect your items from the elements (ie weatherproof). There is also an internal mesh pouch for extra segregated storage. I love the Osprey backpack that we currently use at our house.

Approx price: $220.00

6. Patagonia – Black Hole Duffel


This is a great looking duffel bag and the price is great for what you get. There are several colour options, thick comfortable straps (backpack and luggage), extra handles and daisy chains (loops) for attachments and a large top zipper opening to view all contents inside. The duffel is weatherproof with a padded base to protect contents. It also includes an internal compression system (ie straps) to help you compress your items. Furthermore, when not in use the entire duffel packs down inside itself into a small package (bonus).

In Nelson you can find this duffel at Snowpack.

Approx price: $140.00

So, there are several options out there depending on what you are looking for. To suit my needs I think that either the Helly Hansen Classic Duffel Bag, the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel or the Osprey Transporter will meet my needs. I just need to figure out how much to pack and get the right size (thinking 70L or 90L). There are several stores in Nelson where you can check out some of these duffel bags yourself including ROAM, Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Snowpack.

Packing Cubes


Packing cubes are a pretty simple thing to pick up and they are very helpful for keeping your gear organized within your bag. Locally, Snowpack, ROAM and Valhalla Pure Outfitters have several options on hand and they would probably be happy to order in any different sizes you may need.

For my purposes I will use 3 large cubes, 2 medium cubes and probably 2-3 small cubes. I also plan to bring along a mesh wash bag and a toiletry organizer for toothbrush, Tylenol, etc. The cubes will need to have mesh viewing windows so I can see what I packed in each and they will need to be breathable.

Overall I am really excited about the various options that are available. I am looking for something large enough to fit everything, but easy enough to throw on my back. I am not looking for a wheeled duffel as I do not like wheeled luggage on boats (possibility of scratches or dents, but that’s my preference). I will keep you posted on which one I buy and why!

Stay tuned.

Captain Penny


Page Photo Credit: Photo retrieved from https://www.hellyhansen.com/en_ca/.

Gear Review – Foul Weather Gear

As I prep for my upcoming trip this summer, I am realizing that my old foul weather gear is just not up to the challenge. I donated my Offshore Mustang Survival suit many years ago as it had become stiff and was never really made for the female physique (it was from the early 90s).

As I research new foul weather gear, there have been some major advancements. Not only in functionality, but the materials themselves have improved tremendously. The first thing that I need to look at is what am I expecting of my gear? So, here’s my wish list:

  • waterproof
  • windproof
  • breathable
  • pockets/storage
  • hood/rain cover
  • visibility – colour, reflectors, etc.
  • compatibility with my PFDs, safety harness, MOB light, etc.
  • ease of movement
  • overall comfort & fit (thinking of bathroom breaks and long hours spent sitting or standing staring at the compass and radar… glamorous. I know. Shhh don’t tell the rest of the crew. They think we’ll be sipping Mi Tais and playing with dolphins the whole time!)

Notice anything important that is missing? Warmth. Yup. No mention of that. That is because my base layers will be responsible for that. That’s a whole other blog post and gear review…

I wrote this post from a women’s perspective as we have a slightly longer wish-list for our foul weather gear (in my opinion) than men, but my reviews and comments are also valid for any men looking for new gear. You just have a few more choices ūüėČ

The main players

From my research so far, there are only a few players in the field of sailing foul weather gear. The main ones are Mustang, Gill, Musto and Helly Hansen.


To start off, there are no female specific offshore suits that I can find. So that’s a big negative for me.

The other glaring issue for me, is that all of their gear is black! Yes that looks very sexy, but I’m more concerned with being seen and making it home to my family if I fall off the boat, than looking “hot” in all black.

Finally, I have leveraged my sailing community for input on Mustang foul weather gear and it was not overly favourable. It seems that Mustang is moving to capture the commercial market and not overly interested in all purpose sailors. Mustang is, however, still a leader in the Canadian market for life jackets and PFDs – yet again another post to follow.


Alright, so Gill has two female jackets to offer: OS1 Womens Jacket (Offshore) and OS2 Womens Jacket (Coastal). They are bright red, have reflectors, lots of pockets, good hoods, waterproof, hand-warmer pockets (bonus!), among a few other perks. So far so good.

That’s about where it ends. There are no female specific pants for offshore cruising so no drop seat for my head time, which is a negative. The less time you spend below fighting with your gear the better. Trust me.

The lack of selection is also a bit concerning as the price of foul weather gear is very high so you have to make sure that what works for you will work for the life of your investment. That being said, it is important to try many options before you buy. You may end up with a Gill Jacket and Mustang pants. Who knows. If it works for you, get it.

Overall I don’t think Gill is my best foul weather gear option, but it’s not out of the running yet.


This particular brand was recently brought to my attention as I’m not overly familiar with Musto, but I do know a few people who use their gear. They have a great women’s offshore set ‚Äď the MPX GORE-TEX¬ģ Offshore Jacket and MPX GORE-TEX¬ģ Offshore Trousers.



The jacket boasts a lot of great features including: 3-layer GORE-TEX¬ģ Pro laminate for high performance breathability, waterproof and windproof protection, articulated elbows and underarms for freedom of movement, fleece-lined collar for comfort and warmth, fluorescent GORE-TEX¬ģ hood with peak (fully waterproof), 2 handwarmer pockets, 2 cargo pockets to store essentials, life jacket attachment points allow you to take off your jacket and life jacket together (awesome), and photoluminescent reflectors glow in the dark to keep you visible at night, to name a few.

The ability to have your life jacket attached to the jacket is a great feature as this enables you to set your life jacket straps and then leave them as is when you take off your jacket. This decreases the chance of having your life jacket straps too tight or too lose and decreases the number of adjustments you need to make every time you take your jacket on and off.

The pants are made for prolonged offshore sailing. These trousers have adjustable straps and back waist adjustment for a comfort fit. It has CORDURA¬ģ reinforcement patches on the seat, knees, back hems to prevent abrasion, and a detachable tool pouch adds storage space. The downside is that the pants do not appear to have an easy head access zipper. Boo.

Overall, the Musto women’s gear is a strong contender for me.

Helly Hansen

HH has definitely asserted itself as a leader in the world of sailing foul weather gear. Imagine my excitement when I checked off female offshore sailing gear and found 6 jacket options! Now 3 of the jackets are considered unisex, but at least they list them as options for me on their website. There are also 3 different pant options.

The √Ügir series is built for professional ocean sailors and is Norse mythology for god of the “sea”. Most items in the collection come in red, white or black (red being my choice). The √Ügir Ocean Jacket would be the full-on foul weather jacket to go with, but I think the extra long length would drive me a bit crazy (I don’t like long jackets around my thighs). The next logical step up from there is the √Ügir Race Jacket and √Ügir Race Salopette (French word for an overall type of pant).


Ægir Race Jacket

Here are some of the features of the jacket: waterproof, 4 ply fabric construction, fully seam sealed, waterproof, high collar, fleece collar, adjustable hood, double storm flap, adjustable double cuffs, adjustable waist, Solas (safety of life at sea) reflective, hand warmer pockets, chest pockets and articulated sleeves.

That’s a lot of goodies! Overall it checks all of the boxes for me, but what do the reviews have to say? Well, there is an overwhelmingly positive response for this product on the HH website and within the sailing community.

Ægir Race Salopette

Here are some of the features of the pants: waterproof, 3 ply fabric construction, fully seam sealed, waterproof, seat and knee reinforcements, breathable softshell top, two way front zip, adjustable waist, thigh cargo pockets and adjustable leg openings.

Once again, a great list of attributes, but it is this key phrase in the description that seals the deal for me: Especially developed for women’s convenience is the drop seat construction with a fully waterproof YKK¬ģ Aquaseal¬ģ zipper. Head visits made easy! Brilliant. Again, the reviews on the HH site were very positive for these pants.

Overall, choosing the right foul weather gear takes time, research and some trial and error. Try not to let the price affect your choice as this is an investment and you want to make sure you have the right gear to keep you safe and warm.

Once you get over the sticker shock, you’ll have a great time seeing what works for you!


Captain Penny

Is this not what I should be wearing for the trip!? ūüėČ

Page Photo Credit: Nicole Speckmaier, Geminis Dream, VanIsle 360 International Yacht Race 2017

Hawaii here I come!

For those of you who have been following along, you may have previously read my blog post entitled The double meaning of Aloha. In this blog I talked about the Vic-Maui Yacht Race coming up in July 2018 and how I had planned to race. At that time, we had unexpectedly received the gift of Spindrift from my grandparents and we had to ship her out West, causing some tightening of the financial belt!

Well, I’m happy to say that we have managed to organize ourselves so that I can head to Hawaii! I will not be doing the race this time around, but I’ll be helping to deliver one of the race boats back to Vancouver from Maui¬†‚Äď Turnagain,¬†a Beneteau Oceanis 50.


I am so excited to get these miles under my belt and to get back out on the open water. I can’t really begin to put into words what it feels like to sail under the stars surrounded by complete darkness, but it is something special to experience!

Also,¬†Turnagain skipper Travis has been silly enough to let me recruit some friends to join in on the adventure, so Geoff Lugar, Wren McElroy and Joe Gilbert are also signing on! I think we need a team name and mascot…

Keep an eye on my page for updates on how I am getting organized for this trip including workouts, packing tips, foul weather gear and more!


I’m hoping the trip looks something like this¬†(but with women… haha) …

Fair winds,

Captain Penny

Penny Caldwell

Our instructor Penny Caldwell featured in the Sail Canada blog!

A Sailor’s Workout

Guest Post by Lydia Di Francesco, Certified Personal Trainer with Fit + Healthy 365

As a sailor you’ve got a lot of pulling, lifting, moving, balancing and so on as you navigate your way around the boat. The tasks to keep the boat moving smoothly on the water require strength and agility.

When Sail Nelson’s owner and head instructor Penny asked me to design a workout specifically for sailors, I said yes right away. We talked about the type of movements sailors do on the boat so I could create a workout that developed the right type of strength for those moves.


Typical Sailing Tasks

Some of the tasks you typically do on a boat include tacking and gybing, hardening and easing the sheets, hoisting or dowsing the sails, and lugging around heavy sail bags, to name a few.

These tasks involve a lot of back strength, core strength, balance, coordination, and lower body strength.

Here’s the workout I designed to fit these movement patterns and strength needs.

The BEST Workout for Sailors

The workout is broken into 2 supersets of 3 exercises each. Complete each superset doing the exercises one after another. Rest of 30-45 seconds then repeat the superset for a total of 3 times. Move on the next superset following the same format.

Equipment: dumbbells, resistance band (such as these ones), or household objects like heavy bags or laundry containers

Superset 1

– lateral squat walk x 10 steps each way

– upright row x 10

– bodyweight shoulder press x 10

Superset 2

– deadlift to clean x 10

– 1 leg standing superman with row x 10 each side

– renegade row (beginner: no weight, intermediate+: dumbbells)

Want more workouts? This workout is a perfect example of the type of workouts that are part of my 15 Minute Workout Club. It’s a group coaching program where you get a monthly workout plan, access to all my 15 minute workout videos, bi-weekly group coaching calls, accountability and support, and a 1:1 consultation call. Enrollment is only open at limited times. Visit www.15minuteworkoutclub.com for all the details.

Have fun with the workout and happy sailing!

Coach Lydia


Lydia Di Francesco helps busy professional women get strong and fit through short, effective workouts so they can keep doing the fun things they love! She is the Founder of Fit + Healthy 365 and Creator of the 15 Minute Workout Club, her signature online fitness program. As a Certified Personal Trainer, Lydia educates clients and the public that healthy living doesn’t need to be complicated. She promotes simple, fun exercise and creating a healthy mindset with a long-term approach to wellness.

Lydia makes regular appearances as a Fitness Expert on CTV Ottawa Morning Live and Rogers Daytime Ottawa. She is also an international best selling author, a Huffington Post Contributor and has been published in the national health and fitness magazine OptiMyz.

Photo Credit: Kootenay Lake Sailing Association