Flag Commodore

Commodore's Corner: June 2018

The Memorial Day Weekend marked the real beginning of the serious sailing season. We extend a special welcome to our new members. We want to encourage you to participate in as many sails as you can. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet all of the other members of our club. Don’t be shy! We have a great time on our sails and please remember to take lots of photos. Your pic may win the prize in our photo contest at the end of the season!

On Memorial Day we honored and remembered those who have given service to our country. I am reminded that, in the global world in which we find ourselves, this service includes much of our entire population. Those who stand and wait also serve. This is true in our sail­ing community as well.

Our organization is composed of members who serve in a variety of ways. Some pay dues and rarely go on a sail or attend a meeting. Others participate in sails as crew while some simply desire to be passengers on sails. Some own and captain boats while many of our members do not. Yet all are instrumental to the vitality of our organization. Each in their own way contributes to the totality of our experiences. All deserve our appreciation and recognition. We thank all of you for your service to NWSA!

I am enjoying serving as your commodore! It has giv­en me the opportunity to share rich experiences with a variety of wonderful people. I am encouraged that our organization continues to grow and provides interest­ing sailing experiences for all. I appreciate the support of the membership of this fine group of sailors!

See you soon on the Seas! —Richard Reed

Commodore's Corner: May 2018


What’s knot to like!

Ahoy Mates!

     As spring arrives in the mid-West, our thoughts turn to things nautical, such as getting our Ships to Sea or at least getting our boats out of the back yard. In the array of skills we bring to boating, I would like to share a few thoughts on the topic of knots.

     The serious student of sailing will know and practice an array of knots that are used in sailing. Those who wish to be proficient in crewing should know a few basic knots so they can be useful crewing on a variety of boats.

     Here is my list of favorite knots and rope skills. Enjoy!

     Learn to coil, tie and store rope. This is a skill that is quite useful for crew and one often neglected. There is a wealth of instruction on the Internet on a variety of ways to coil and store rope. One should also practice throwing and receiving the coiled rope. This is a skill that is useful especially for docking. The cleat hitch and two half hitches are useful knots for docking.

     Of course, the bowline is an essential knot. Remember to learn to tie the bowline in a number of situations such as around your waste for rescue. It should be an automatic skill, which takes practice.

     The figure eight is also a commonly used stopper knot. The reef knot is another often used knot especially when reefing on those windy Chicago days. Finally, for those who desire to keep their rope ends neat, learn the whipping knots.

     This is hardly an exhaustive list of essential knots. Many sailing books have lists of what they call the basic knots for sailing. Nowadays, the Internet has great videos on knot tying and rope handling. There are also phone apps on knots.

     Learning to tie knots can be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. I just want to encourage all of us to spend some time on this aspect of our sailing.

     Do you need assistance in boat repairs, maintenance, or launching? Please let us know! We are a social sailing club with many skilled people anxious to help you. Sailing is our passion and we want to share it with others. So, please, contact me or other members or officers if you would like help getting on the water.

     Fair Winds, my friends and fellow sailors! Lets get this sailing season going!

Commodore's Corner: April 2018



     It will not be long before we are again out on the water. This prompted a few thoughts about captain and crew responsibilities on the water. I was specifically thinking about the captain’s responsibilities on pleasure craft as distinguished from commercial or military vessels.

     The first responsibility of the captain is the safety of the crew/passengers.  This is followed by the safety of the vessel. The third priority is the mission of the sail. The mission might be the simple enjoyment of a day sail or the need to get to a certain destination by a certain date or time.

     Sometimes the desire to have an enjoyable time might conflict with the safety requirements of the first two priorities. This can put pressure on the captain.  Yet, the safety of the crew and the ship must be above other considerations.  Passengers might even express their willingness to take risk greater than the captain thinks prudent. In these situations the captain might feel it is acceptable to take risk he/she might otherwise not be inclined to take. The responsibility, nonetheless, is to put the safety of crew and vessel above all else.

     Captains vary in their risk assessment values.  Some captains are comfortable taking greater risk than other captains.  This may be due to their view of their skills and experience or just the nature of their personalities.  It is, of course, the captain’s responsibility to make the decisions.  

     It is unseemly to challenge the judgment of the captain when under sail.  It then, makes sense not sail with captains in whose judgments you do not have confidence. As captains we are responsible for earning the respect of our crew and passengers by always putting their best interest first.

     As crew it is important to remember that we are guests on the boat.  We should not be overly aggressive in giving command to others even when we are more experienced.  That is the responsibility of the captain.  This is especially important when a newer sailor is at the helm. It is the captain who is responsible for guiding that person unless the captain asks someone else to aid the person. Unwarranted and unsolicited advice can be confusing and discouraging.

     Above all, I am reminded of the importance of civility in our relationships on the water.  Pleasure sailing should be enjoyable. I remember our motto “Chicago’s friendliest sailing club.” from the Communiqué. We want to have a friendly and positive attitude and demeanor while sailing.

     Spring has arrived and we can rejoice in the thoughts of wonderful days on the water together with our sailing friends from NWSA!

Fair Winds & Trailing Seas!



Commodore's Corner: March 2018

Sailor or Yachtsman?

One of the benefits of having a can on the outer wall at Monroe Harbor is that when you are sitting in the cockpit, looking out to sea, the wall and the harbor itself are invisible. You are treated to an azure view of expansive water dotted, at times, with sailboats gliding across the blue, white caped waves. I know it is the lake, not the sea. The downsides of those mooring are often daunting. Yet, there is wonderful vista to be experienced there.

I often have difficulty-spotting Illuminator on the tender trips but am guided by an expansive American flag on the sizable yacht on the neighboring can. I have always admired his flag, posted high on the backstay, not only for its majesty but also as a signpost for where Illuminator is resting. Without it, I can barely pick out my boat from the crowd at that row of the harbor.

When I became Yeoman I was given a burgee to fly, signifying my noble position. I was in a quandary as to just where to fly this flag and how to position it among the other flags I now wished to display. I then consulted a number of books and, of course, the Internet, for guidance. In one of the articles they presented a complete rundown on proper etiquette for displaying flags. Among the comments was the warning that adherence to proper etiquette was one of the factors distinguishing the mere sailor from the true yachtsman.

What with all the work involved in swabbing my own deck, making repairs, and getting to about half of the needed work to keep my boat afloat the thought of raising and lowering flags every time I wanted to go sailing seemed an overwhelming task. On the other hand, it might be nice to be regarded as a Yachtsman. Maybe I could even sail in a blue blazer with a white captains cap! These are serious decisions for the captain to make.

Reed TornYeomanFlag 2in72ppiWell, friends, if any of you saw the yeoman’s burgee I returned to the club you can see that I opted for the easy way out on that aspect of etiquette. My burgee was so battle worn it had to be replaced for the new yeoman!

I still try to maintain as much of the proper etiquette as reasonably possible because I think there is value in tradition. This season I will work toward moving forward on the sailor-yachtsman continuum. I have a new burgee to protect!

 Summer is the time for leisure reading for the landlubber! Now is when we of the sea have opportunities to look at books.

Book SailingGrace 72ppi

I want to recommend two book that I found inspiring. The first is “Sailing Grace” by John Otterbacher. 

It is a true story about a man and his family who are confronted with the need of a heart transplant and the desire to take a sailing adventure.

The second is Nick Ward’s “Left for Dead” which tells of his experience on a small sloop in the infamous Fastnet Race in 1979.Book LeftForDead 72ppi It is a powerful story that I have enjoyed. I will leave a copy of each of these books in our library for loan at our March general meeting.


Best wishes to all and welcome aboard to all our new members
Richard Reed

Boat Towing

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