I asked a friend and supposedly experienced sailor once what weather helm was. I was expecting him to explain the physics of how a boat is designed to compensate for its course against the force of wind. Instead he said, "Isn't that where the crew takes precautions on account of the weather?"
The worst weather I ever encountered on the water was in the Walloon Lake Regatta a decade or so ago. The wind died, and then the skies opened and water poured down in buckets. I wasn't worried about myself so much, but I did have some concerns for my friend Carroll who had asked to participate in the race with us. He was 84 at the time, and I imagined myself calling his daughter afterwards and trying to explain how it was that I took a perfectly health octagenarian and gave him pneumonia. The time without wind continued for what seemed an eternity, when finally I brought the silence and looked at Carroll and said, "this might be the moment in time when we begin to cannibalize the crew."
Carroll looked at me without blinking and said, "well in that case, pass me the ketchup and mustard."
Words turn out to be as important as weather on a sailboat, and it's not just to differentiate captain and crew as elitists against the neophytes and unitiated. Using specific terms ensures that when something has to be done quickly, someone on deck isn't translating "take that whatchamacallit and tighten that rope over there."
Ty, Colin and crew are hoping for better weather as this week winds down. Launch date is scheduled for Friday. We expect the sailing gods will be smiling on us and giving us 10 knots of light breeze, and balmy sunny 60 degree weather. Too much to ask for?
How could it be? We are sailors after all. Hope springs eternal. But just in case, I'll make sure we have plenty of ketchup and mustard on board.