Meet the Leaders: Judy, Bahamas sailing skipper

written by Intrepid Travel February 24, 2017

They’re the ones who know every backstreet bodega and ridiculous noodle bar, who sort out your Tokyo shinkansen and keep you safe on Kilimanjaro. They’re the first up in the morning and the last in bed at night. Owners of the big smiles, and the best stories. They are, of course, our Intrepid leaders. And in this series we’ll be getting to know what makes them tick. 

This week we’re proud to introduce our very first female sailing skipper, Judy. She’ll be leading our sailing trips in the Bahamas (it’s a tough job, but hey, someone has to). We sat down with Judy, poured a generous rum or two, and asked her about life at sea…

How did you first learn to sail?

Learning to sail was an adventure that took place in many locations around the world. It’s actually something that’s ongoing; I gain some new bit of knowledge every time I hop on a boat! I really cut my teeth on sailing in Hawaii where the conditions can be quite challenging. From there I did my first “blue water” passage to Seattle, with some great mentors onboard. One of which was Captain Cook…not the original, but from the same area in the U.K.! Next stops were the BVI’s followed by Florida and the Bahamas.

The ocean has an honesty that’s not found in any boardroom…

What drew you to life on the sea?

Circa 1972 I stumbled upon a Windjammer Cruise in the Caribbean. I didn’t know anything about the lifestyle, but quickly realised how much I enjoyed it. The feeling of freedom, the ever changing moods and challenges of the sea fit me so much better than the corporate world. The ocean has an honesty that is not found in any boardroom and I can work with that! Being up close and personal with nature on a daily basis rejuvenates my soul.

Where in the world have you sailed? Got a favourite place?

My earlier sailing grounds were Hawaii, Caribbean and the US east coast, but since then I’ve sailed in Greece, the South Atlantic, going from Namibia, Africa via St Helena to the lower Caribbean then back across the North Atlantic to Gibraltar by way of Bermuda and the Azores. Recently I had the opportunity to experience a couple of weeks sailing from Darwin to Western Australia, visiting the Kimberly region, which is one of my favourite destinations along with St Helena in the South Atlantic and the Azores in the North Atlantic. The remoteness and beauty of both St Helena and the Kimberly area of WA are the attraction for me. The three Azorian islands I visited were stunning: vistas of the sea, prolific flowers, endless green and friendly, welcoming people.

What’s the strangest experience you’ve had at sea?

Trying to outrun a hurricane and losing. But it was at least downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it got to me! I wouldn’t try that again…

When sailing to the more remote destinations, are the locals surprised to see a female skipper?

Yes, but it seems to be less of a surprise than in the past. The caveat is, if you are a female, you really can’t screw up because everyone is watching! 

What makes the Bahamas so special?

Since my first visit over 30 years ago I’ve had a fascination and love affair with the Bahamas…everything from the gin clear water to the friendliness of the native people, the sea life, history, the loyal “pot cake” island dogs, the uncrowded unspoiled anchorages….and did I mention turquoise is my favourite colour?

What’s your top tip for someone sailing for the first time?

Go with the flow and don’t have a schedule! It’s all about wind and weather.

Last one: what destination is next on your travel wish list?

The San Blas islands, Panama. Fiords in Chile or anywhere in the South Pacific.

Want to sail with Judy in the Bahamas? Hop aboard our latest small group sailing adventure.

Feeling inspired?

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