Weather Helmed

an adventure in renewing the spirit and living the dream…on a sailboat

Weather Helmed

"Weather Helmed"

According to Wikipedia, weather helm is “the tendency of sailing vessels to turn towards the source of wind, creating an unbalanced helm that requires pulling the tiller to windward (i.e. ‘to weather’) in order to counteract the effect. ”

I had heard this term numerous times while sailing around the bay.  “Feel the weather-helm?” is a common question for captains to ask the beginner at the helm, and I had definitely been in the novice’s position of pushing and pulling at the tiller, trying to keep the boat in line and prevent it from rounding up.  If the boat does round up, chances are she will accidently tack (change direction) or perhaps end up headed straight into the wind – “in irons” – and be dead in the water.  Either way, the boat will not be in the best position to get where she wants to go.

When I decided to start this blog, I didn’t want to call it anything too cheesy or have some boring name like “womanonaboat”.  I wanted it to be somewhat nautical, but not limiting.  “Weather Helmed,” although not a grammatically-proper use of the term, seemed an appropriate description of me.  (Although, once I heard the term “Scandalized Main”, I kind of wanted to change my blog title!!)  So, WeatherHelmed it is.

See, I have a tendency to work myself up sometimes and freak out a little.  I can’t tell you how often I have set out on a particular life course only to over-think the situation, get scared, feel overwhelmed, and suddenly force myself into a 180, effectively stopping all forward momentum.  During these moments, it requires a lot of self-control, will-power, and encouragement from friends and family, to talk me down from the ledge and get me back on track.  Essentially,  I have weather helm.

I believe that every person – just like every boat – has a “sweet spot;”  that special way of living, particular to you, that optimizes your chances for success, emphasizes your talents, and enables you to continue moving forward on the best path for your life.  With boats, this “sweet spot” is that just-right amount of heel where the boat is comfortable, perfectly balanced, and basically able to sail itself.  Most sailors will argue that a slight bit of weather helm is good because it helps the captain assess how the boat reacts to changes in the wind.  I think they’re correct.  In life, it’s good to assess your reaction to the risks you’re taking and the obstacles that might come your way.  However, my ultimate goal is to achieve that perfect point of sail and adhere to it, allowing my life to “sail itself.”  That said, I’m very thankful that I have Matt, my family, and my friends to pull on the tiller when I get a little off course.


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