Committed to Cruisers
Throughout her 55 years in the Seven Seas Cruising Association, keeping sailors informed and in touch has been Ginny Filiatrault's labor of love. A Sailor Profile from our November 2010 issue
Years before the Digital Age and Cruising World existed, the Seven Seas Cruising Association provided its members with essential local knowledge of far-flung destinations, a primitive communications system, and a cockpit full of camaraderie. And long before the world became concerned about pollutants damaging the oceans, the S.S.C.A. presciently affirmed its commitment to the environment through its slogan, "Leave a Clean Wake."
Over the years, many people have volunteered to make the S.S.C.A., the largest sailing and cruising organization in the world, and perhaps none were more committed than Ginny Filiatrault. Now 73 years old and retired to Florida with her husband, Jacques, she still lives and breathes cruising under sail.
Filiatrault was born Ginny Lea Duba in 1936 in Santa Monica, California. From the beginning, she was crazy about boats. "When I was 9 years old," she recalls, "Dad and I built a sailing dinghy, soaking the plywood in the bathtub to make the pieces pliable for the hull shape. We launched through the surf near the Santa Monica Pier and spent days sailing in the open roadstead. At 12, I lived aboard Dad's 34-foot Seagoer yawl, Temptress, a sister ship to Harry Pidgeon's Islander. I met Harry in person, after he accomplished a solo circumnavigation and was on the hard at the Los Angeles Boat Show. It was such fun to sit in Harry's cockpit and talk of his next cruise. Harry invited me to crew for him, but Dad said a firm 'No!'
"When I was 13, Dad took me to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles to meet Irving Johnson and see his film The Peking Battles Cape Horn. I can still hear Irving say, 'Here comes the big one!' as a monster wave lifted Peking's stern. Years later, when I was editor of the Commodores' Bulletin of the S.S.C.A., I came to know Irving and his wife, Exy, personally.
"By 15, I used my babysitting money to buy a derelict 12-foot lapstrake sailing dinghy to rebuild. My friends complained that I talked about boats and not boys."