A couple of sailing mnemonics

Cardinal buoys are, as many of you will know, yellow and black and have two cones on the top which help to identify them as North, South, East or West marks. The two cones point up on the North marker and down on the South marker – very logical.

On the West marker the top cone points down and the bottom cone points up. On the East marker the top cone points up and the bottom cone points down. There’s no apparent logic to this so they are more difficult to remember and various mnemonics have been suggested: Because the West top mark looks like a bobbin you’re supposed to think ‘wind wool’, west. Eh?

I prefer to think of the West top mark as the shape of a woman as outlined by the hands of a wolf-whistling admirer – waist equals west. Simple. You may use that with my compliments.

To assist the helmsman when running wing and wing I use another mnemonic – point the tiller at the sail you want to fill. It’s a bit more complicated with a wheel – point the bottom of the wheel at the sail you want to fill. This simple rule prevents that “ooh-err” moment when one of the sails begins to luff and a prompt response is called for. Makes an expert of the most novice helmsman.

Mnemonics are useful devices.