Flotsam and Jetsam*

* Odds & Ends. Originated in 17th-century sailing terminology. Flotsam literally meant "wreckage or cargo that remains afloat after a ship has sunk." Jetsam meant "goods thrown overboard from a ship in danger of sinking in order to give it more buoyancy." 
  • Wednesday, February 07, 2018 1:30 PM | Anonymous

    by Meghan Williams

    While most people were making their resolutions for the new year, sailboat racers put pen to paper and listed out their goals for the upcoming race season. What else are we supposed to do when it’s cold outside, right? It doesn’t matter if we are brand new at racing or if we’ve been racing for years, as athletes we are always looking to find that edge over our competition.

    It’s great to set goals, but just like resolutions, if we do not give ourselves a specific plan then we set ourselves up for failure.

    For example, you say your goal for this year is to win the Women’s Regatta. How are you going to do that? Do you think that is the best goal you can set for yourself or do you think you can dig deeper?

    If you have experience, reflect on the sailing seasons passed. What worked? What didn’t? What would you like to try? If you are a beginner - evaluate yourself. Look for online sailing quizzes, read books, talk with other racers and give yourself a thorough assessment so you know where to begin when goal setting.  Perhaps this season you are not going to focus on personal development, but rather your crew or fleet has goals of its own.

    When thinking about your goals for this season consider using the S.M.A.R.T system.

    Specific – Think of this as your mission statement and include answers to the “W” questions – who, what, where, etc.

    Measurable – Use metrics to track and analyze your progress.

    Attainable – Set goals that are achievable based on your skills and circumstances.

    Relevant – Make your goal consistent with your overall plan.

    Timely – Set realistic target dates and milestones to ensure the success of attaining your goal.

    Here is an example of a goal. (Remember, goals can be big or small. It’s all about what drives you. Racing is fun, not rigid!)

    Goal – As races are won or lost by seconds, I would like to improve my tacking skills to reduce speed loss and drag.

    Specific – Reduce speed loss and drag during tacks. 

    Measurable – I can measure tack timing, boat speed loss or gain. I can look for things such as - are my Jib cars in the correct place, is my jib over/under trimmed, how are the tell tales moving when a tack begins, what is my boat position after a tack, etc.?

    Attainable – I work during the day so I can’t get to the club every night to practice. I’ll commit to one or two days spread out in May where I will spend 4 hours on the water just tacking.

    Relevant – Shaving seconds off my tacking time can give me an advantage and put me ahead of another boat.

    Timely – I expect after 8 hours of just tacking practice in addition to Tuesday night races, I will attain my goal by mid-season.

    As much as sail racing is a team sport, it is also very individualized. You are bringing your expertise to the boat so focus your goal setting on what YOU can improve, perfect or continue. Setting up a SMART plan forces you to commit to yourself. Most important, have fun! Best laid plans can often change so be adaptable. Remember, a bad day on the water is still a better day anywhere else!

    So before going out and spending thousands of dollars on new sails, equipment, etc. to win the regatta, think about a better plan for your goal.

    Some goals that sailboat racers love to set are based on:

    Strategy, Tactics, Mental and Physical Fitness, Boat Handling, Team Building, etc.

    In sailing we love analogies so here is one to leave with you:

    Goal setting is like taking a survey of the race course before the start. Where is the wind? Where is the mark?Which end of the start line is favored, etc.? If you do not map out where you want to go and why, you’re likely going to miss the mark.

    We have just a few more months before we fill our sails with wind. Leave a comment and share what goals, areas of improvement or continuation you or your crew will be working on this season.

  • Friday, June 09, 2017 1:30 PM | Anonymous

    Racers, when gardening, we wear long pants, short sleeves, sunglasses, bug spray and SPF 50. Under the heading of using the right tool for the right job, here’s a list of what you want to wear and bring with you when you race.


    Clothing should be sports clothes that are comfortable and offer you free range of motion. You don't want to wear anything too loose as it might catch on various hooks and latches. Avoid any clothes with metal ornamentation as it could scratch the boat.  

    Boats have spiders. If that *bugs* you, wear long pants. 

    Your shoes should be soft-soled, close-toed, non-skid, and fit well.


    Your "Go" bag should contain everything else you need to hop onto your boat. This includes: 

    ** Sailing gloves 

    ** Sport sunglasses (Dick’s Sporting Goods or drugstore - tight/ non-slip) on some sort of chain (if they hit the water, they're gone) 

    ** A baseball (sailing) cap

    ** Chapstick with SPF

    ** Hair bands

    ** A small water bottle

    ** Sunscreen (yes, sunburns happen at 6:00 pm on a boat in Lake Erie)

    ** Pressure-point wristbands (especially for the novice) 

    ** Double-mint gum (green pack) - mint works like a charm in the "prevention" of motion sickness!

    ** An extra T-shirt or sweatshirt (it can get cold out there if you're covered in spray)

    And of course:

    YOU MUST BRING YOUR OWN PERSONAL FLOTATION DEVICE (PFD) - PS: Check out this sale on PFD's at West Marine!

    What you don't need: you will never need your wallet or your purse for that matter, on the boat. That doesn't mean you can't bring it with you, but happy racers travel light. 

    It’s also a good idea to a change of clothes in the car or a garbage bag to sit on for the car ride home in case of rainy weather.

  • Friday, June 09, 2017 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    Hello Racers! Our beloved PRO (Principal Race Officer) for the 2017 NCWSA Racing Season James Snyder (buy him a beer!!) has provided us with a few dos and don'ts for us when we are serving as Race Committee (RC). His wise words follow. If you have questions, absolutely ask them before you're up for RC. 

    Your friendly PRO’s “Do’s and Don’ts” for Race Committee Duty:

    1.  Be on time.  Dock time is ONE hour before the First Warning (i.e. If First Warning is 18:55, Dock time is17:55).  Be sure to have used the facilities beforehand as the accommodations on the committee vessels are “limited.” The longer you take, the longer it takes to get out and start setting up the course, which in turn, causes undo angst among the participants and committee.

    2.  Be sure to dress as if you are going sailing. Bring foul weather gear if the weather calls for it and a life jacket (we have some on board, but….ick!)

    3.  Be willing to try new things.  Most tasks are pretty straight forward-setting marks, raising flags, taking notes, times and finishes. Sometimes it may require going up to the bow of the boat and sounding a horn and signaling a course change.  ALSO, be willing to listen.

    4. Occasionally, the PRO will get upset.  It is almost always because of the PRO.  Do not take it personally.  Unless you do something unsafe, everything will be fine.  The AP flag is our friend when things go wrong.

    5.  NO drinking of alcohol or ingesting of other recreational substances prior to working race committee please. No need to explain, and if there is… then you may need help.

    6.  NO unnecessary talking when we are in sequence.  The last minute before the start especially is when everyone must concentrate and be listening to instructions.  Questions are happily answered- unless we are in sequence.

    7.  NO talking to the competitors.  You can say hi, but all race communications should be through the PRO.  Most of the information they need should be in the NOR or SI’s.

    8.  NO overt cheering.  It is just bad form, as a member of the committee you should remain impartial.

    9.  RELAX, have fun and learn.  This is not the America’s Cup.  Almost no one will be keel-hauled for making a mistake.

  • Monday, July 25, 2016 11:30 AM | Anonymous

    by Cheri Morabito

    I was impressed by something I read in Buddy Melges’ book, Sailing Smart.  I always planned to keep it as my “secret” weapon,” but it’s really worth sharing with everyone.

    . . .certain basic maneuvers will have to be perfected before you get out onto the course. The basic moves are tacking, gybing, and going around marks. 

    You must practice making a tack so many times that you and your crew can literally mark, on the floor of the boat, where each foot goes, where the right foot goes, where the left foot goes, how you will hit the weather rail, and how everyone will get out over the side. The sequence must be executed the same way every time . . .

    (These maneuvers) can win more for you, more consistently than fancy tactics used by more experienced sailors.

    Because I practice something like tacking more than most competitors, I know that when i start tacking against them, they are going to be slower, even though they have better speed through the water on a straight line.

    . . Gain the confidence that you can do the basics better than anyone else. You will have them beaten, and they won’t even know it!

    Buddy Melges, Sailing Smart 

    Read the Reviews from Amazon to get a feel of what you can learn from this book

  • Thursday, March 05, 2015 11:39 PM | Anonymous

    by Angela Barbati

    1. Know your Skipper: Your Skipper provides the crew with the opportunity to sail. They are responsible for the safety of both vessel and crew. Things can happen suddenly that require action, and your safety as well as the safety of the vessel may be at risk. Try to understand the situation and what the skipper wants. When the Skipper speaks, pay attention, stop talking, listen carefully and follow instructions. Try not to take it personally. The crew’s responsibility is to be ready, willing, and able to handle any sailing task that the Skipper assigns. Do your homework and make yourself an asset. Safety is the goal. 

    2. Crew Timelines: Arrive early! From the time you get there, to the time the boat leaves the dock you are responsible to stow your personal gear and prep the boat to be ready to sail. Stow gear below deck carefully so it won’t wind up on the deck when heeled over.Late arrival or No Shows: Remember a no-show is a No-No. Other people are depending upon you to show up on time and participate. If you are going to be late, or cannot make the sail, please call the Skipper ASAP and another crew member should you not be able to speak to the skipper. The Skipper may like to invite someone else. 

    3. Learn the basics: and get your head into the boat. Watch which lines are connected to which sails, memorize the jargon, and pay attention to what the rest of the crew is doing. Ask for a job even if you know nothing about a boat. Skipper’s are easy they will give you a job. Try to develop critical thinking – all boating contains an element of danger that demands some respect.

     4. Pitch in and help after the race: There’s still lots to do. Secure the boat and her lines, clean where needed and fold/roll and put away sails, sheets, and winch handles. Put on the sail cover. Every boat gets put away differently. Remember to take your gear with you when the race ends. Help take off gear, snacks and garbage. Be alert to what needs done and do it. Ask if all the work is done before you leave. Double check.

    5. Remember to say “Thank You”: to both the Skipper and your Coach. They are volunteering to provide you with learning, time on the water, and fun! Show appreciation by contributing to a “GEAR FUND” or “SOCIAL FUND” for the boat you’re assigned to. 

    6. Carry gear in a “GO BAG” in your car: You don’t want to miss a last minute call to race, do you? Weather may be different by the time you arrive at the boat.After reading all of the above the whole idea is to have fun! Bring a smile, a sense of humor, and some sparkling conversation. Being outdoors and sailing with good people is a great way to spend a day. Enjoy it and help others enjoy it. Remember if you are not having fun, you are not doing it right. You are out there to have fun, but also be safe.

  • Thursday, March 20, 2014 12:30 PM | Anonymous

    by Liz Wilber 

    Women sailors are a breed of their own. Whether or not you grew up around the sailing lifestyle, or just got started, it can wreak havoc on your personal life. It's a difficult lifestyle to explain to peers, co-workers, friends and potential dates. 

    In an effort to help explain women sailors, I've compiled a list on:

    Reasons to Love a Woman Sailor

    1. We know what to do when things get rough. Out on the water and get caught in a squall? Best thingto do is drop the sails and weather the storm. Also a great practice in life. We know when to wait out bad situations.

    2. If we capsize, we right ourselves and get back in the race. Sure, we might be soaking wet and uncomfortable, but we try again.

    3. We abide by the rules and are self-governing.

    When we break a rule or foul a competitor during a race, we do penalty circles. We're honest and upfront with someone if we've wronged them. (Unfortunately, spinning around a few times does not clear you of an argument with a spouse...)

    4. We're fantastic at trimming sails because we know exactly how to use curves and fullness to our advantage.

    5. We accelerate and thrive in pressure. Heck, we seek it out and aim for it on the water.

    6. We're not afraid to tack or gybe. If the direction we're headed is not working out as hoped, we're not afraid to go the other way and try something new.

    "Hourglass" figures may be feminine,but they are NOT desirable in spinnakers.

©2022 North Coast Women's Sailing Association •  c/o Edgewater Yacht Club, 6700 Memorial Shoreway NW, Cleveland OH 44102

Email: NCWSA@ncwsa.net


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