Kris Self, founder and owner of Island Computer Consulting in St. Pete Beach, a “technology concierge,” Self, 64, is a former Apple systems engineer and specializes high-end home automation, entertainment and video surveillance systems. She also works with small businesses. Setting up communication and navigation systems for boats (and cars) and then training owners how to operate them effectively is another area of expertise.

Kris has been sailing since the early 1980s, when she moved to Florida. “My dad became interested in sailing, and then my brothers started sailing, as well,” she says.

Well, me being me, I thought, ‘I can do anything they can do.’ I became the galleymate, but that was fine; I was just happy to be on the boat.

She mostly sails in Gulf waters near St. Pete Beach but has made a couple of trips to Captiva Island, the Dry Tortugas and the Tobago islands in Trinidad and Tobago.

Kris bought her first boat, a 1981 Navigator named Capella, about nine years ago. “She is an old lady, but we have a lot of fun,” she says. Kris managed to connect with a former owner of the 33-foot vessel, a woman in her 90s who now crews for Self. “She’s amazing. I had the boat for about six months when I finally met her. She came aboard and I’m like, ‘Jane, what is this? Why do we have this? How does this work?’” Jane helped Kris get Capella’s stove working, and now “we eat like queens on the boat.”

Kris’s can-do attitude about sailing stayed with her through the years, and she’s made it a personal mission, of sorts, to get more women into sailing. Her regular crew is all women, but she’s not opposed to having men on board.

When I first got the boat, I only had female crew because I knew I was going to be making mistakes and I knew the women wouldn’t be judgmental.

“But now I do it because I want to work with women who are interested in buying a boat and women who sail with their husbands. I want to get them out [with me] because then they learn different things and they see different things.”

Kris has taken her ladies-first mentality to the Internet, launching a Facebook group for aspiring and current female sailors in the Tampa Bay region.

“Starting that group was one of the most fun things I’ve done in a long time,” she says. “We’ve got more than 1,200 members.” The leadership team is one of the best that I have every worked with.

Women Who Sail Tampa Bay host various activities throughout the year that empower women to be successful on the water. We have had everything from “How to use Aqua Maps”, “Outboard Engine Maintenance,” and “Cooking on a boat”. As well as many happy hours. Our favorite happy hour is “Bring your favorite tool”.

Sailing transcends hobby status for Self. It’s become a lifestyle, a regular practice like yoga, running or working out. “If you look at my calendar, sailing is on there in ink,” she says. “The only thing that makes it negotiable is weather or if I have crew or boat issues. I have to make it a priority. It makes me feel like a whole person; it regenerates me. If I’m not working, I’m probably sailing or doing something sailing-related.”

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