Whale Sighting!

Whale Sighting


Tacoma Women’s Sailing Association’s motto is “women teaching women to sail,” and that is an apt concept as well as important. Recently there was a terrible cruising accident wherein a couple out on an ocean crossing met with disaster when the husband fell overboard and the wife did not know enough about sailing to retrieve him. The boat sailed on, leaving him behind, never to be found. I do not want to buy into the old sexist trope that sailing is mostly men and that women are sidekicks who should only take the helm in a disaster. There are a lot of people who happen to be women who have extensive sailing knowledge and experience, often from having grown up around it, who are willing to dedicate their time and effort to developing this skill in the community, but in terms of numbers, the bottleneck is probably women. If the sailing community could get more women out on the water, it could “represent” better.

The powers that be in San Francisco are planning to close San Francisco Bay off to small pleasure craft of the size of most private sailing vessels probably as a nuisance to the giant cruise ships. That is hateful as well as environmentally catastrophic. The amount of fossil fuel consumption, garbage, and general touristy folderol associated with cruise ships is just the opposite of the general ambiance of scenic San Francisco, which should welcome those small yachts as a cultural heritage as well as an environmentally appropriate means of transportation. 

I still remember Margaret Paterson at the first club meeting explaining points of sail in a way that I had never comprehended before. The A.S.A. book says, basically, the wind comes from here and these are the resulting points of sail. Margaret said, "Always try to keep your sails 45 degrees to the wind.” I immediately grasped that the direction you are trying to go determines your point of sail which determines your sail trim.

Now to implement this in real time with everyone screaming that there is a whale!

I have decided that screaming is a secondary sexual characteristic. It came up so automatically and so completely that nobody could do anything but scream.

Colleen had the presence of mind to grab her camera, but I just let it go, man. I had more important things to do in screaming. 

I worked the jib the first two times we were out, and, as previously reported, aborted the tack by not getting it right with the wind. The jib needs to have a belly full of wind before you let it go, and it has to get all the way across before you take it in. It’s a “hold ‘em” situation and I was too flustered to hold ‘em.

Tuesday I came fully armed with this knowledge to my post at the main. Now I knew that in tacking the jib goes first and the main second, and just the reverse in jibing, but I didn’t really anticipate the situation of the unintentional jibe. That is where it kind of happens, nobody had really thought it through, suddenly there’s a giant piece of aluminum flying across the cabin. We’re all screaming again, but “Get down! Get down!"

I think I acquitted myself on the main. It’s more a sense of the sail having a certain aplomb, I felt. It’s not all scraggly, and generally it’s  where it should be. That was how I played it. 

I was pleased to see the homemade traveler on the vessel very similar to my own, though with the complete running rigging whereas my running rigging is laying somewhere. Who knows where. 

We are wondering what to do when everyone has gone through all of the stations. 

I think we should learn docking, but that is probably not in the cards. 

© Joann L. Farias 2023