Breaking Into the Current: Boatwomen of the Grand Canyon

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In 1973, Marilyn Sayre gave up her job as a computer programmer and became the first woman in twenty years to run a commercial boat through the Grand Canyon. Georgie White had been the first, back in the 1950s, but it took time before other women broke into guiding passengers down the Colorado River. This book profiles eleven of the first full-season Grand Canyon boatwomen, weaving together their various experiences in their own words. Breaking Into the Current is a story of romance between women and a place. Each woman tells a part of every Canyon boatwoman's story: when Marilyn Sayre talks about leaving the Canyon, when Ellen Tibbets speaks of crew camaraderie, or when Martha Clark recalls the thrill of white water, each tells how all were involved in the same romance. All the boatwomen have stories to tell of how they first came to the Canyon and why they stayed. Some speak of how they balanced their passion for being in the Canyon against the frustration of working in a traditionally male-oriented occupation, where today women account for about fifteen percent of the Canyon's commercial river guides. As river guides in love with the Canyon and their work, these women have followed their hearts. "I've done a lot," says Becca Lawton, "but there's been nothing like holding those oars in my hands and putting my boat exactly where I wanted it. Nothing."
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An inspiring and necessary reminder that women are thriving in the world of outdoor adventure." —Sojourner"A thoroughly enjoyable read." —Books of the Southwest"The greatest virtue of the book is Teal's literary gift. . . . A fully rounded view of the adrenaline-fueled life on the big water." —Utah Historical Quarterly"The book transcends gender even as it addresses it and thereby joins the dozen or so books about the Grand Canyon that belong in every river runner's library. . . . Without it, history is incomplete." —Paddler
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The companies that run chartered boat trips along the majestic but treacherous 226-mile stretch of the Colorado River from Lee's Ferry to Diamond Creek were bastions of sexism from the early part of the 20th century to the 1970s. They assumed that women were neither strong nor capable enough to pilot a boat full of people through the Grand Canyon. In this volume, Teal, a journalist and boatwoman herself, disproves that theory by cataloging the stories of 11 women who became commercial boat pilots in the 1970s. Many of their stories overlap in the details of how the women learned to row or motor the boats; their perseverance in trying to get hired; and in the passion they voice for the river. ``The water has so much power over the boat and me . . . I feel like the river takes me in its hands,'' says Martha Clark. Yet each boatwoman shares a unique part of her experience. Marilyn Sayre tells how a boyfriend helped her to become a boatwoman; Suzanne Jordan recalls flipping a boat and nearly drowning; and Lorna Corson explains why she returns to the river every year. This is an engaging chronicle of a little-known group of pioneers. (Mar.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780816514298
  • Publisher: University of Arizona Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 178
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
1 Women in the Canyon 1
2 The River Journey 13
3 Marilyn Sayre 21
4 Liz Hymans 35
5 Louise Teal 49
6 Susan Billingsley 61
7 High Water of 1983 71
8 Suzanne Jordan 79
9 Becca Lawton 89
10 Connie Tibbetts 101
11 Sue Bassett 111
12 Lorna Corson 123
13 A Real Boat 135
14 Ellen Tibbetts 139
15 Martha Clark 151
16 Breaking into the Current 163
Epilogue 173
Bibliography 175
Acknowledgments 177
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2003

    A Feeling Put Into Words

    This book puts into words the indescribable feeling that I get inside when I visit the grandoise monoliths of the southwest. These women are not crazy femanists who want to break into the mens world of river running. Rather they are people who fell in love with the humbling effects of one of the most magnificant areas in the world. This is an amazing book that fills me with that feeling and takes me to another world, and inspires me to follow my dreams in the process.

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