All posts filed under: Sailing

Fun facts and techniques

Resources for more sailing information

Want information faster than I can write? Check out these great resources:  US Sailing  Sign up for classes at a US Sailing-certified school and you’ll be assured of a consistent, curriculum-driven experience, with certification that is transferable to other US Sailing schools. Get started with Basic Keelboat, the beginning text. Also check out the US Sailing channel on YouTube.  US Sailing is the governing body for sailing in the US, the official representative for the sport of sailing to the Olympic Committee, Congress and US Coast Guard.  American Sailing Association  Where US Sailing is more focused on technique and racing, ASA classes are more focused on cruising. Check them out on YouTube.  A Boater’s Guide to the Federal Requirements for Recreational Boats The US Coast Guard “Rules of the Road” for boating safely and legally. Includes critical information on safety equipment, operating proceedures, navigation rules, aids to navigation and more. Be sure to download the PDF. Sailing for Dummies JJ Isler, Peter Isler. Wiley Publishing, Inc, Hoboken, NJ (2006)  One of the better “for dummies” books …

Welcome Aboard!

As my copywriting life merges with my sailing life, I’m starting a new series of blog posts, called KnotReady. Here you’ll find information on … Knots Basics of sailing Sailing words Safety Fun facts Quirky stories You might be asking, with so many great sailing resources out there, why would I do this. My hope is to make sailing information more accessible for more students, with more visual cues, alt text, scripts, captions and memory aids to help more people enjoy their time on the water.  Because Lake Michigan is still rather icy, I’m focused on written posts – dryland learning. Look forward to a few videos after June, once boats are in the water.  Let me know how I’m doing. If a post isn’t accessible, or if it’s just not clear, please leave a comment.  Fair winds and following seas,  Captain Laurel 

Photo of Chicago Light House - Laurel Johnson, Copywriter,

Is Chicago’s Lighthouse Haunted?

Oh, how rumors get started! One of my students mentioned he had heard that the Chicago lighthouse off Navy Pier is haunted. Hmmmm. In my 25+ years of sailing out of Monroe and Burnham Harbors, I had never heard this. Turns out, another instructor was pulling this student’s leg. But that comment led me to look up the history of the Chicago Harbor Light, which is pretty interesting.    

Rip Rap…

Rip Rap Also riprap or rip-rap.  Rip rap is all that rubble – rocks, granite blocks, broken concrete – that lies along our shorelines and breakwaters. Rip rap’s purpose: to prevent erosion from waves, ice, wind, scour, and other effects of weather. But really, doesn’t it sound like the next music trend?      

Pirates and Eye Patches: Fashion or Function?

Quick. Think of a pirate movie where the captain wasn’t wearing an eye patch. Or an eye-patchless Halloween costume. No, the eye patches weren’t a fashion statement to look more badass. And, no, they weren’t covering a “Careful, you’ll poke your eye out injury.” The eye patch was a functional device that

Looking for Wind? Look for Cat’s-Paws

Glassy water is gorgeous to look at… frustrating to sail. Look for cat’s-paws – textured, darker patches of water – and steer toward them. Cat’s-paws are tiny ripples on the water created by the wind moving across the surface of the water. On a light air day, steer toward them to find a bit of wind. On heavy air days, cat’s-paws indicate a gust is coming. Hold your course – but be prepared to vent your mainsail. So why are they called cat’s-paws? Don’t cats hate water? The idea behind this old nautical term is that the ripples look like a cat has just pawed the surface of the water… but didn’t want to stick a paw in to get wet! And, yes, the term really does have both an apostrophe and a hyphen. “Cat’s-paw.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Aug. 2013.

Ted Turner Comments on Lake Michigan

A favorite story told at the Chicago Yacht Club concerns the humbling of Ted Turner by the Chicago-Mac. When he brought his Twelve Metre American Eagle to Chicago in 1970, Turner expected an easy ride and went so far as to characterize Lake Michigan as a “mill pond.” After two days of battering by a northerly gale, he contritely announced… “I hereby publicly retract anything and everything I have ever said about inland sailing.”* * New York Times, July 23, 2001.

Points of Sail

Continuing the clock analogy… 12 o’clock. Wind on the nose = NoGo. 2 or 10. Wind on the cheekbone = Close haul. 3 or 9 = Wind straight on the ear or shoulder = Beam reach. 5 or 7. Wind behind the ear = Broad reach. 6. Wind directly on the back = Dead downwind. Jibe ho!