Being at the helm of a boat means power, freedom and fun for women sailors
Whether it’s racing, cruising or sailing, many women in these parts have taken to boating, well, like fish to water. For some, it’s a special way to connect with family; for others, the sport offers an opportunity to compete or travel. Whatever the reason, these women are making the most of their Gulf Coast lifestyles.
Reesa Cerdas, a district court clerk for Galveston County, has spent most of her life on the water.
“Skiing, sailing and stand-up paddling have been a part of my life since before I could walk,” she said.
Cerdas’ parents are avid sailors and they encouraged her and her brothers to embrace the sport.
Cerdas recalls weekly visits to the island’s West End with her father.
“Every Sunday, as a kid, my dad would take us all out to Bermuda Beach and sail our Hobie Cat,” she said. “I was just small enough to lie down on the front hull and keep an eye out for dolphins or turtles.”
Now, her eyes are focused on sailing competitions. She participates in regattas and races such as the Great Texas 300 40-Mile Dash and Ruff Rider, a two-day race around South Padre Island.
“This particular event gave me a whole new perspective on racing and the stamina it takes to be on the water from sun up to sun down while adjusting to the ever-changing elements of our ocean,” she said.
When Cerdas isn’t competing, she enjoys cruising around Offatts Bayou and particularly enjoys the island’s beach front.
“The beach front will always remain my favorite place to be on any vessel because it brings me back to growing up out there and seeing the island from a different perspective,” she said. “When you’re three miles offshore, you can really catch a beautiful view of the island.”
For Ball High School teacher Cristin Ledbetter, becoming a boating enthusiast took some time. Originally from Allen, Texas, Ledbetter lived in Seguin before moving to the island three years ago.
“When we moved to Galveston, our kids were thrilled. I really wanted to live on the beach, but I was outvoted by all three boys,” she said, referring to her husband, Stan, and sons, Garrison and Graham. The Ledbetters also have a daughter, Caroline.
“They insisted we live on the water so we could have a boat and they could go fishing whenever they wanted,” Ledbetter said.
Not a big fan of fishing, or maintaining and cleaning a boat, Ledbetter said she realized that if she wanted to be part of the family fun, she would have to give this boating thing a try.
“I made up my mind that I was going to learn how to drive the boat so that I could take the kids fishing,” she said.
During one summer, she did just that. She also learned how to flush the engine, wash the boat, check the oil and: “I even learned how to back the trailer into the boat ramp by myself. At that point, I realized I loved boating,” she said.
Turns out, knowing the ins and outs of watercraft can be an attractive quality in a woman. After a discussion with a neighbor, an avid boater, about what boat the family should purchase next, she relayed parts of the conversation to her husband — the technical parts.
“Stan just looked at me and smiled and said: ‘It’s kind of hot having a wife who can talk boats,’” she said.
When Kay Sandor talks boats, it’s less about motors and more about sails. The retired University of Texas Medical Branch professor has been sailing since her 20s.
“I’ve always been around water. It’s no accident that I’ve settled here in Galveston near some more big water,” said Sandor, who originally is from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where there are many inland lakes.
Sandor prefers sailing to motor boating because of the challenge of working with the wind, she said. She considers sailing a thinking sport, but also finds it relaxing.
“The wind in the sails is very soothing, and moving across the water is very exciting,” Sandor said. “I’m always smiling when I’m sailing. It makes me happy.”
Sue Collier shares Sandor’s sentiment. When asked about her favorite part of boating, she said: “The soothing motion of the boat is the best part. That and if you don’t like the scenery, you can move whenever you want.”
Collier, a Dickinson resident, changed her scenery for two years in the 1980s when she and her husband sailed the entire Eastern Caribbean on a 38-foot sailboat.
“We left Galveston, sailed across the Gulf of Mexico, through the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Windward and Leeward Islands, Granada, Trinidad and Venezuela,” Collier said.
The Colliers now own a Kady-Krogen 42-foot trawler, named Pirate after the Jimmy Buffett song, “A Pirate Looks at 40.”
“By the time we got the trawler, we were well over 40 but the name seemed to fit,” she said.
Apparently, the name and the boat did fit. The Colliers spent seven years aboard Pirate, returning home when they felt the need to have a house again.