Thelma Brooks

NSS Instructor Thelma Brooks tells us about her experiences on the water as a sailor and instructor:

1. How did you first get into sailing?

Sailing was never really on my radar until I had the opportunity to sail on my cousin’s boat in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia during the visit of the tall ships one summer. I had never been on a sailboat and didn’t really know what to expect. When the sails went up and the motor was turned off, it was an incredible feeling. Listening to the hull cut through the waves, and the wind powering the sails, while feeling the warmth of the sun on my face was unforgettable. I fell in love instantly and that experience truly changed my life. It was only a year later that a friend gave us our first sailboat which was a Catalina 22’. That’s when the real obsession for me began.

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?

No disasters, yet…

However, I will never forget the day I learned that port tack gives way to starboard tack thanks to the woman from the other beautiful and expensive sailboat screaming “STARBOARD TACK!!”

Needless to say, I did a lot of studying that night and I highly recommend learning the rules of the road, which we teach at Narragansett Sailing School. 😉

3. If there’s one thing you can tell new sailors when they are just introduced to the sport, what would you tell them?

Absolutely take sailing lessons. My husband and I were given our first sailboat and taught ourselves by reading, talking to anyone and everyone, YouTube, and trial and error. It was exciting but also time-consuming and sometimes difficult and stressful.

Being self taught can be done, but sailing lessons simplify the learning curve and make your time on the water much more productive. Lessons provide an excellent foundation of skills, knowledge, and confidence which will make those first few seasons a lot more enjoyable.

4. What advice would you tell a new sailor to ignore? What are bad recommendations you hear about sailing?

  1. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old to learn to sail. Sailing is for everyone!
  2. Ignore your own advice and don’t let your fears hold you back. Push past your comfort zone. (Safety first, of course.)

5. Who most influenced your life when it comes to sailing?

I’m always inspired by women who have accomplished so much in the sailing world. However, I must add that the sailing community in general is a great bunch of people and I love being among them. Everyone is happy to provide advice, share stories, and even give a helping hand if needed. People from all backgrounds, age groups, and social status have one thing in common, and that is their love of sailing.

6. Outside of sailing, what is something that you love to do; something that makes you feel alive?

My family is my first love. Besides that, I love to sing, ride horses, and head to warm climates in the winter!


About Thelma Brooks

Thelma currently sails with her family out of Warwick, Rhode Island, cruising Narragansett Bay and Buzzards Bay on their 35’ Bristol. In the summer of 2007, she fell in love with sailing when the wind filled the sails on her cousin’s sailboat while passing the tall ships in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia. Soon after, she and her husband were given their first sailboat: a Catalina 22’. Her sailing career began. She enjoys all aspects of sailboat ownership and is always adding to her ever growing knowledge base.

Certified to Teach:

Want to learn about our other instructors, special events, and sailing tips? Simply sign up below.