Take the Tiller – A Sailing Journal

Random musings about things like falling in love with a boat, building a fleet, learning to become a winner, and the beauty of sailing classic boats on legendary Buzzards Bay


Thanks for taking a look at my journal. I’m regularly adding new essays, so I hope you’ll check back for more. Or, if you’d like, you can sign up to have new posts delivered straight to your inbox as soon as I publish something new – just send me your email in the box on the bottom right-hand of this page, and I’ll add you to my subscription list.

Women at the Helm: Aunt Dotty

This hardy, salty little cottage has been in my family for generations; the photo above was taken from an old album of my grandmother’s dating from the 1940s. It inhabits an old, old place where the indians hunted and fished (my grandmother collected countless arrowheads along its solitary road), and you will have to go far afield to find it, hidden as it is at the bitter end of a lone point on Saquish Head, very near Clark’s Island, where my Pilgrim ancestors landed nearly 400 years ago.

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Just Sail the Boat: Action Breeds Confidence

Armed with a good deal of information, but no actual experience at the helm of a Sonar, we showed up to do battle. We chose not to be intimidated by the fact that there were competitors in this regatta who had actually had racing experience on the Sonar, and on similar boats, and instead, set our mindset to focus on learning everything we could, using the races as “practice.” After all, since we had never set foot on the Sonar before, they actually were practice races, and if we focused on learning from our mistakes, we could only get better, right?

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Women at the Helm: Paying It Forward

My friend Barbara’s experiences have made me think about how far we’ve come, and how vitally important it is to help “pay it forward” when we are lucky enough to have some success, or find ourselves in a position to do some good for those who may be following in our footsteps. There have been many important “firsts” and many enormous gains made in women’s sailing over the years, and finally, today, we have the women of Team SCA, and The Magenta Project, who, together, are creating ways to help support women sailors who are looking to participate in the most grueling racing at the top levels. And they are already making a difference.

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The Friendliest Regatta Around!

I was asked to write a piece about the 44th annual Buzzards Bay Regatta (BBR), which will be hosted by Beverly Yacht Club, in Marion, Massachusetts, from August 5-7, 2016. This year’s event organizers have decided to return to the roots of the event, and are bringing the focus back to adult racing on Buzzards Bay, and the competition in the boats that are sailed and raced by the local clubs.

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Grit Happens: Effort Counts Twice in Sailing

Grit. What a funny-looking word. What is grit, anyway? A recent google search rounded up the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word: “Courage and resolve; strength of character.” Its synonyms comprise a large list: courage, bravery, pluck, mettle, backbone, spirit, strength of character, strength of will, moral fiber, steel, nerve, fortitude, toughness, hardiness, resolve, resolution, determination, tenacity, perseverance, endurance. Pretty impressive, right? However, after having recently read Angela Duckworth’s new book, Grit, Oxford’s definition seems to be lacking a very important third dimension – namely effort.

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Mary Blewitt Pera: Navigating to Win the 1949 Fastnet Race

Recently, I wrote a post about the perils of GPS, which led me to discover that a woman, Mary Blewitt, wrote the standard text on the subject of Celestial Navigation, way back in 1950. Blewitt’s book, Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen, is a true classic, now in its 12th edition. As you can imagine, I was curious to learn more about her.

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Take the Tiller’s Top Picks: The Best Books for Sailboat Racers

Those of you who know me, know that I can be a little obsessive when it comes to racing sailboats, and, true to form, I have read absolutely every book about the subject that I could get my hands on. In this blog post, I’m sharing my own carefully curated list of these books — these are my “ultimate favorites.” Take it from me: you’ll want to have these in your own library!

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A Swearing Sailor?

My trusted gal-pal and intrepid racing competitor, Annie, sent me a little book for my birthday. It’s called: “Fake Swears: Filthy Expletives That Are 102% Clean.” What a nice present, right? I know you’re wondering why she thought I would need this particular book. Well, it has to do with how I handle stress and mistakes on the race course. . .

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