ASA Featured Instructor: Captain Margaret Pommert, Seattle Sailing and San Juan Sailing

Captain Margaret Pommert of Seattle has been named the recipient of the 2020 BoatUS/National Women’s Sailing Association (NWSA) Leadership in Women’s Sailing Award. The award annually recognizes an individual with a record of achievement in inspiring, educating, and enriching the lives of women through sailing. Margaret is an ASA instructor, Instructor Evaluator, and holds a 100-ton USCG Captain’s License.

“Margaret has been called ‘a force of nature’ for her enthusiasm and effectiveness in getting more women on the water,” said NWSA President Debbie Huntsman. “She encourages women to step up to new responsibilities and to expand their capabilities, confidence, and boating horizons.”


Margaret was nominated for this award by a group of women whose lives have been enhanced through her sailing mentorship. They noted that she inspires a wide audience in a variety of ways. Her women-only classes on topics such as the Racing Rules of Sailing and spinnaker handling gave many women the supportive on-ramp that they needed to become active racers and skippers. Her monthly “Onboard” Northwest Yachting magazine column for women boaters has a large following. Her full-day hands-on classes to introduce women to marine diesel engines quickly fill. Margaret has been the sailing instructor for the Seattle Boat Show’s popular full-day “Women’s Boat Show University” for 5 years, as well as classes at Women’s Day at the Vancouver International Boat Show.

Margaret has been leading the Seattle Sailing Club’s Women’s Program for many years, with monthly activities and women’s race teams. She teaches popular week-long Women’s Learn-and-Cruise courses in the San Juan Islands. San Juan Sailing and Yachting honored her as their 2019 Instructor of the Year. In addition to teaching recreational sailors, Captain Pommert periodically teaches new keelboat instructors for the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Captain Pommert gives back to the sailing community by promoting both women in sailing and boating safety. She organizes an annual Northwest Women in Boating Knot-a-Boat booth at the Seattle Boat Show, where women teach other women (plus men and kids) how to tie boating knots. Margret actively serves on the Executive Committee of The Sailing Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes safety at sea and youth sailing in the Pacific Northwest. She also serves on the Washington State Boating Program’s Advisory Council that provides recommendations on ways to enhance boating safety statewide for all types of recreational boating.

48 North Sailing Magazine characterized Captain Pommert, “She is passionate about all the right stuff: from safety at sea to accessibility, from education to engine maintenance; and whatever the subject-matter, she supports, inspires, and empowers women to sail.”

Captain Margaret Pommert is this month’s Featured Instructor.

ASA Avatar
ASA: Why Should people sail?

Captain Margaret Pommert:

To reconnect with nature, with themselves, and with their family and friends. Our modern life is necessary… but tends to disconnect us from what’s important, especially in cities. Getting out on the water helps us unwind, focus, and reconnect. Seattle is just one example of many cities in the USA where a person can get on a boat, and literally in a few minutes be in an entirely different place. Different view, sounds, smells…even different motion. Sailors often come back from a day-sail feeling like we’ve just come back from vacation!

ASA Avatar
ASA: What was your most memorable student or class?
Captain Margaret Pommert:

My women’s courses are often very memorable because we have so much fun! Last year I taught a “Race like a Girl” course for women racers with Race to Alaska winners Team Sail Like a Girl. In one class, the outboard on our Melges 32 died… so did the wind. We ghosted into the marina after dark, and into a perfect landing in our slip. Even the newer sailors on board stepped up to what was asked of them, and while we were navigating the challenges we were happily chatting and laughing together.

ASA Avatar
ASA: Your favorite place to sail?
Captain Margaret Pommert:

I have been lucky enough to explore many of the world’s top cruising destinations, sailed a Pacific Crossing, and lead bareboat charter groups to various warm water destinations every winter. But my favorite place to sail is still the Pacific Northwest. I have co-led a flotilla of recreational boats all the way from Washington state up the Inside Passage to Alaska five times. The beauty, diversity, and even challenges of our waters engage the soul in an incredible way, and I love introducing others to that!

ASA Avatar
ASA: Why do you sail?
Captain Margaret Pommert:

One thing I love is the camaraderie. That is one reason I’m an avid racer. I skippered an all-woman J105 team that twice won a fund-raising regatta for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and was on the only all-woman USA team in the 2018 J22 International Mid-winter Championship Regatta. Thinking back on those experiences, what I loved most was the teamwork in the face of various challenges, as well as celebrating our successes together!

ASA Avatar
ASA: What do people not know about sailing that they should?

Captain Margaret Pommert:

Sailing is naturally a great sport for women! We may not have the strength, on average, as men. But that really doesn’t matter as much in a lot of sailing when compared to some other sports. Modern sailboats, from dinghies to blue water cruisers, are designed with essential mechanical aids such as winches and cascading block systems that everyone utilizes to sail the boat, regardless of strength or gender.

You can find and sail with Captain Margaret Pommert at Seattle Sailing and San Juan Sailing.


Online Sailing Course