20th Anniversary

Passagemaker Maker
May/June 2009
written by Sally Bee Brown

Congrats, Sea Sense, on Your 20th Anniversary!

carol-pattiTwenty years ago, Carol Cuddyer and Patti Moore, co-founders of Sea Sense, launched their sailing and power boating school by entering the first women-only sailing team in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club’s Florida-to-Mexico regatta. That event earned them second place in their cruising class, and many more achievements have followed.

Don’t think that their Florida address limits them – Sea Sense is global! The women of Sea Sense have taught boating from Greece to Tahiti and at numerous ports in between. Carol and Patti began teaching mostly on sailboats; now they primarily instruct aboard powerboats. Although they specialize in teaching boating skills and safety to women, they also coach families on their own boats.

Credentials abound. Both women hold U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton master’s licenses – ones that are “old enough to drink and vote,” says Patti. They’ve sailed and cruised the world, and Patti even made a transatlantic trawler crossing that forever labeled her “the captain in bunny slippers.” Try wearing those at a sailboat’s helm (rather unfashionable with foul-weather gear).

Carol and Patti have a history with PMM that predates our premiere 1996 issue. PMM founders Bill and Laurene Parlatore were verbally testing their magazine concept when they met Patti at a Connecticut boat show, and it wasn’t long before Sea Sense was presenting seminars for our readers on boat handling and safety. “I’ve met dozens of women throughout the years who took their classes and beamed as they walked aboard their own boats again, feeling so much more confident,” says Laurene, who includes herself in that group.

Two of our staff have experienced Sea Sense’s week long “women-only” hands-on live aboard training (see PMM April ’02 and February ’05). Carol’s and Patti’s teaching methods are geared toward the different ways in which women and men process information. They build self-assurance by explaining “why” while showing “how.” Their onboard courses offer ample opportunity at the controls, yet there’s always kick-back time to savor. They inform. They involve. They just plain know what they’re doing, Sea Sense is common sense.

That doesn’t mean everything goes 100 percent smoothly all of the time. At a boat-handling demonstration at Trawler Port in St. Augustine, Florida, members of Sea Sense performed maneuvers while folks ashore watched and listened to an announcer describe each move. No problem, except the announcer’s voice didn’t carry to the boat, so it was “sort of like a ballet where you couldn’t hear the music,” says Patti.

Patti also remembers the thrill of assisting with the PMM-sponsored Pokie Run to the Bahamas. Powerboats of all shapes and sizes crossed the Gulf Stream where most had not ventured before. “The excitement in the air was palpable!” she recalls.

It’s that emotion that keeps the women of Sea Sense doing what they do – and loving it. They’re currently developing additional seminars and are working on a teaching video and textbook.

Carol says she would like to do more one-on-one teaching, especially through Sea Sense’s “On Your Own Boat” courses.” It gives me a good feeling to set people on their way with a solid knowledge of their boat and systems, safety procedures, and everything they need to cruise with confidence,” says Carol, who is also writing a book of women’s sea stories.

She teaches crew members to work together as a team, incorporating effective communication skills.

Visit www.seasenseboating.com to check out the variety of classes offered by Sea Sense. Are the courses affordable in these trying economic times? They’re probably less expensive than the fiberglass you’ll need to repair when you try to dock your boat without understanding winds and currents, less costly than a new transmission when the term “slow maneuver” isn’t in the helmsperson’s vocabulary, and far less than the value of a life when the response to “man overboard’ is sheer panic.

Carol  and Patti work hard to achieve that moment when the light goes on for their students and their cruising enjoyment is heightened by their newfound skills. Sea Sense is owned by empowering women who transform their students into empowered boaters. On the to  the next 20!

–Sally Bee Brown