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Harbor Happenings: New Sailers for Sailors

Barbara Merriman

Barbara Merriman

By Barbara Merriman

There is a world-wide foundation, or basic knowledge about sailing. There is also a local foundation—a charitable entity—that helps young sailors financially.

The Dana Point Youth Charitable Foundation is available to help secure rental boats at low cost for youth sailing classes, and those boats are also available for the local “Soda Can” race series and other races that are not part of a formal class. The foundation owns several Sabots, Collegiate Flying Juniors and Lasers, which all qualify as dinghy sailers.

On August 10, there was a very special event in the OC Dana Point Harbor, which took place at the hoist where small boats are kept in dry storage and then launched each time for a sailing adventure. This area of the Harbor is at the corner where the Dana Island bridge and Dana Point Harbor Drive intersect. The foundation had just purchased two rather advanced small boats called 420s and it was exciting to watch their inaugural “splash.”

The appropriate words for launching a new boat were read by Captain Mark Doliva, who also led a champagne toast to the gods of the winds and the god of the sea to ensure safe passage for these boats. Foundation President John Berry gave a brief overview of the program and how these boats were discovered and purchased.

Another foundation board member, Donna Carter, spoke about what sailing has meant to her children, who have grown up in the sailing community and won races and awards for Corinthian spirit and seamanship.

One of the boats had a special unveiling of its name, Mongo. This will forever remind friends and family of Jeff Adam’s joie de vivre, after his young life was tragically cut short by a sudden illness. Jeff was legendary in the Dana Point sailing world, for his ability to enjoy everything and his wonderful attitude was contagious. “Mongo” was a term he used for just about anything.

“That was a mongo wind! That was a mongo lunch! That was a mongo wipeout!”

You get the idea.

Jeff’s mother, Wendy Adam, spoke about the Jeffrey Adam Memorial Regatta Fund in partnership with the Dana Point Youth Charitable Foundation. The proceeds of the memorial regatta, with an additional donation from the family, provided funding for Mongo. Anyone may make a tax-deductible donation to this foundation—as there is always maintenance to be funded. To find out how to donate, log on to

After the splash, the boats were launched and sailed off around the island by a team of two girls and a team of two boys. It was delightful to watch and of course when two sailboats are on the same course, it inevitably becomes a race. In this race, the winner was the memory of Jeff Adam and the future young sailors who will enjoy these boats.

Barbara Merriman is a former public school music teacher with a love for outdoor sports, primarily sailing and golf. She keeps a sailboat at Dana Point Harbor, has a passion for protecting the environment and serves on the Board of Directors at the Ocean Institute.

In an effort to provide our readers with a wide variety of opinions from our community, the DP Times provides Guest Opinion opportunities in which selected columnists’ opinions are shared. The opinions expressed in these columns are entirely those of the columnist alone and do not reflect those of the DP Times or Picket Fence Media. If you would like to respond to this column, please email us at

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Steering a new course

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SAILING is one of the oldest methods of transport in the world but is now more commonly enjoyed as a leisure pursuit.

Thanks to the so-called Olympic legacy, residents are now turning to sports such as sailing and Redditch has the luxury of its very own club, founded more than half a century ago and based at Arrow Valley Lake since 1973.

To get a real experience of sailing, the Standard’s Harriet Ernstsons enrolled in the Royal Yachting Association Level One and Two courses offered by the club twice a year.


THERE were a fair few apprehensive faces as the course began at the lake, with trainees anxious to discover how they would go about controlling the GP dinghies used by the club.

But these nerves soon turned to smiles as the instructors explained the basics of rigging up the boat, the terminology needed and took everyone out on the water for the first time.

We were tasked with acting as the crew – sitting at the front and controlling the smaller of the two sails – while the instructors took on the role of the helm – the person in charge of the main sail and the steering.

After a demonstration from those in the know, it was time to take charge of the tiller and learn how to sail across the wind and, perhaps more importantly, how to turn the boat in a different direction. We were told it was like changing the gears in a car, while at first the driver has to think about every step, soon it becomes natural.

The second day of the course saw us practising the skills we had learned and taking on a triangular course, learning how to position the sails and the boat upwind and downwind while also concentrating on the five principles of sailing.

These involved us checking the balance of the boat was correct – with the crew tasked with moving around the GP to ensure it remained flat on the water, where the sails were positioned and how to most effectively travel around a course without losing speed by travelling head on in to the wind.

By the afternoon, it was time to take on the challenge of jibing. We had previously been taught how to turn away from the wind – also known as tacking – but jibing sees the boat turn through the wind. This can be a trickier procedure as the wind catching the sails means it can go a lot quicker but we were given advice on when it was safe to jibe and how to do so in a controlled way.

As Level One progressed, instructors started getting out of the boats, leaving the trainees to practice their new skills. It soon became apparent that knowing what to do when was much easier with someone experienced in the boat.


THE START of the second course saw us taking on perhaps the most daunting task of all – practising a capsize.

Each trainee was asked to perform the procedure twice, once as the crew and once as the helm. Both of the people in the boat perform a very different role, with the crew lying alongside the boat to enable them to remain inside it once it is righted while the helm is tasked with pulling the boat back over.

As well as learning what to do when the whole boat is tipped over, we were taught how to react when one of the people inside the boat falls out – known as a man overboard.

It is important to take the right course away and then back towards them to enable the boat to stop beside them in a controlled way without running them over but close enough for them to climb back in.

Having learned the basics of sailing in Level One, Level Two was more about extra skills we may need should we continue our sailing careers, including learning how to ‘come alongside’ another boat, particularly useful when we needed to climb in and out of other dinghies, and how to land when the wind is blowing on to the bank.

Some of the learning was also done on dry land, with the importance of checking the weather highlighted – it is of course not advisable to sail when there is too much or not enough wind, and different knots to learn as well as the principles of racing – just like on the roads there are rules to learn when sailing near to other boats.

All in all, sailing proved to be a complicated but enjoyable experience. At first controlling the boat seemed like an impossible task and it only got harder as more aspects were added in, but once we were used to being out on the lake and things started clicking in to place it was really rewarding to discover the boat was pointing in the right direction and gathering pace.

Redditch Sailing Club run courses in the spring and autumn. Visit for more information.

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No power boats on the dam: council

Water skiing and speed boats should not be allowed on Wellington Dam and the State Government should focus on opening Lake Kepwari for recreation, the Collie Shire Council ruled last week.

In February the Liberal Party promised to de-proclaim the 185GL dam as a drinking water source and make it available for more recreational uses including water skiing.

Shire president Wayne Sanford said the council supported more passive uses of the weir such as sailing, paddleboats, electric-powered boats and swimming.

He said Lake Kepwari should be made available to power boats, as it was originally intended.

Due to open in 2008, the manmade lake has remained closed to the public because of safety and liability issues.

The lake, which covers 103ha and holds 30GL of water, was set to become the heart of water-based recreation in the South West and a major tourist drawcard.

Cr Sanford said the rehabilitated mine site could bring numerous economic benefits to the region if it was opened to the public.

Cr Ian Miffling said he held personal concerns about public safety and pollution if Wellington Dam was opened to fuel-powered boats.

“There are concerns with speed boats that when the water levels are very low people won’t notice the tree stumps and tree bodies in the water,” he said.

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said the Liberals’ “illconceived” pre-election promise showed a lack of consultation with the community.

He said pollution from fuelpowered boats could harm the dam’s marron population.

He hoped to push authorities to open Lake Kepwari to water skiing this year.

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