Betty Nissen's Cruising Dream

Betty Nissen had a dream for a life at sea. Sixty years ago, she and her husband, John, co-founded what is now the largest organization for voyaging cruisers in the world.
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Betty Nissen had a dream for a life at sea. Sixty years ago, she and her husband, John, co-founded what is now the largest organization for voyaging cruisers in the world.

Nissen, 89, co-founder of the Seven Seas Cruising Association, died at her home in St. Augustine, Florida on August 26, 2012. Nissen is survived by her husband, John, 91. She had a natural zeal for cruising and a firm determination to pursue her dream.

 “We had one dream. To go cruising! Boats, boats, boats and the day we would set to sea, we lived and breathed it,” Nissen said of herself and her husband in her last interview.

The Nissens, who met at a dance when Betty was 19, spent 15 years living and breathing their dream aboard a 45ft ketch, Norwind, sailing from California through the Panama Canal to the Virgin Islands. 

Members of the SSCA remember Nissen not only for her enthusiasm but also for her award-winning skills as an artist. She designed the original artwork for the cover of the monthly SSCA Commodores’ Bulletin.

The SSCA, which is based in Florida, prides itself on sharing cruising information, fostering camaraderie and leaving a clean wake. The elegant words on the homepage of the worldwide organization’s website perhaps best reflect Nissen’s curiosity and determination.

“The need to know what lies beyond the next wave and over the far horizon is pervasive.”

Photo courtesy of Barbara Theisen, SSCA

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