If you’ve ever considered making sailing a livelihood, you’ll respect the path of Judy James, one of ASA’s recipients of the Outstanding Instructor honor.
Judy always gravitated towards water so when her husband bought a Tanzer 22 in the late 70s she was on her way. Although she confessed to being in “panic mode, waiting for the next gust to lay the boat over.” In fact, James admits that it probably took her longer than most to feel completely comfortable sailing. She describes it as a nervousness. But she kept at it and when she began to gain a confidence and expertise with sailing, she looked to pass on her knowledge and help others who want to sail but are a bit intimidated by all of it. After becoming ASA certified she did just that.
“I wanted to help other nervous people learn enough to relax and enjoy the serenity of sailing and the beauty of water,” James says.
Today, she and her husband own and operate KYSC (Kingdom Yachts Sailing Club) and she also does instructional charters for Captain Pat Nolan of Sistership Sailing School in the British Virgin Islands. When she’s not doing that she teaches introductory kayak courses for the American Canoe Association. This girl likes the water!
When asked why she thinks she was awarded with the Outstanding Instructor honor she said:
“Maybe because I can’t seem to think about much else? And maybe because I remember being scared on boats, so I focus on safety, on maintaining control, and on telling people ahead of time what to anticipate. This enables them to see the effect their actions have, which has a calming effect. Plus, I never yell.”
Judy is obviously active teaching locally, but she still gets out and travels the world. Her sailing life has taken her to Greece, Corsica, Sardinia, and the Galapagos to name a few, but her love lies in the Caribbean.
“In my experience, the color and the warmth of the Caribbean cannot be matched,” she says. “The Grenadines are wild and the Leewards are lovely, but the BVI feels like home to me.”
Although Judy has logged thousands and thousands of sea miles, her sense of wonder and appreciation for sailing are still fresh. It’s this attitude that has made her such an effective teacher. To her students and those new to the game she imparts:
“There is no real end to things one can learn aboard a boat or about situations that can be mastered, so just keep sailing. Life DOES begin at the end of your comfort zone!”