Posted by: Jack Henry | August 7, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Telltales

When I was young, I lived near Lake Washington in Seattle. One summer, there was a special deal on sailing lessons and half of the neighborhood kids signed up, along with some of the more affluent kids from other neighborhoods. It was not my favorite experience—my personal claim to fame was that I was the only one who made a turn so fast the boom knocked one of my friends off the boat. We were the only ones who got to practice “man overboard,” though I mostly just screamed, “I’m so sorry, Megan!”

One of you recently went sailing and sent me a great email about your voyage. Not only did you learn a lot more than I did about sailing, you learned some sailing English that might be interesting to everyone!

As the report goes, the captain told our coworker to “look at the telltales to make sure you are pointing the boat into the wind in the most efficient manner.” The telltales are the little streamers sewn into the sails. The goal, according to my friend, is to have both streamers, or telltales, flying parallel to each other. Here are some graphics he sent to show me. He explained, “When the telltales are horizontal and parallel, you are hitting the wind just right and will attain the best speed for the boat.”

And according to Merriam-Webster, a telltale is “one who officiously gives information of the private concerns of others: one who tells what should be withheld.”

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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