Instructor Interview: Jil Westcott
NSS Instructor Jil Westcott shared her experiences with us from sailing the waters, and years helping new and veteran sailors:
1. How did you first get into sailing?
My parents sent me to sailing camp on Cape Cod when I was 9 years old. Absolutely loved the time on the water and then purchased a Sunfish for high school summers. My parents would drop me and the Sunfish off in the morning with a book and lunch, and then pick me up late afternoon.
2. Have you had any disaster scenarios, failures, or simple problems in your sailing career that have given you a valuable lesson as a result?
Too many to count. Early on in the 80’s had two different boats with rigging failures that respectively let a leeward shroud and a slack forestay come loose – the first while cruising on a 27′ Folkboat in Maine and the second while racing on a Soling in the East Coast Regional Championship. Thankfully, in both cases I noticed the problem and could secure the rig thereby not losing the mast at the next tack or jibe. Keeping an eye on the rig is important!
Most recently we picked up bad fuel in St. Georges Bermuda after the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race. The contaminated fuel caused the engine to stop while repeatedly fouling the diesel fuel filters. We trusted the purchased fuel as if it was from high season in Narragansett Bay. Going forward, will put a small amount of diesel in a clear jar and wait for a moment to discover if it is clean – looking for water that separates out and particulate matter dropping to the bottom of the jar.
3. If there’s one thing you can tell new sailors when they are just introduced to the sport, what would you tell them?
Sail a small boat to develop the feel for the wind and response of the boat. Big boats respond more slowly and much more powerfully so its harder to learn. When sailing bring safety gear (e.g. life jacket) and a waterproof VHF radio for emergency communications.
4. What advice would you tell a new sailor to ignore? What are bad recommendations you hear about sailing?
Buy a bigger boat – some people buy boats too big for them to sail independently. The boats are then run under motor or tied up waiting while the owners seek additional crew.
5. Who most influenced your life when it comes to sailing?
My husband John. He shares the passion which enables us to spend half our lives on the water, sailing.
6. Outside of sailing, what is something that you love to do; something that makes you feel alive?
On my shoreside time I enjoy gardening, contributing to non-profit organizations and travel.
About Jil Westcott
Captain Jil teaches in the summer and sails south with her husband every winter on their J-42 sailboat. An engineer by profession, there is little about boating, sailing, and cruising that Jil is not familiar with. Jil has sailed extensively in the Caribbean, and has many offshore trips under her belt.
Certified to Teach: