Start Sailing Now: In Her Happy Place

Taking her passion for sailing to the next level

Jayne Durden has recently taken her passion for sailing to the next level. She just bought a bigger boat, is learning to do her own maintenance, and is generously helping other women to grow their skills too. After learning to sail as a child, and taking a landlocked hiatus, including five years in Nepal and some inland stints in the U.S., Jayne has returned to sailing in a big way on the Chesapeake Bay.

The joy of sailing
Jayne Durden in her happy place.

Tell us about how you learned to sail

I learned to sail when I was about 10 years of age in Australia, where I grew up. I got my start when my aunt De gave me a Mirror (a dinghy similar to an Optimist) that she had built. My dad and I spent a spring fixing it up, and I raced it in a local one-design fleet. Later, I raced a Moth that he had built when he was in his 20s. For family vacations we took exciting sailing charters off the east coast of Australia. 

Since then, I have had some formal training—sailing school in Australia and a few American Sailing Assoication (ASA) certifications to bareboat in the Caribbean, but I mostly learned to sail by doing and by feel, learning from others around me, especially racers in the Herrington Harbour Sailing Association (HHSA) in Herring Bay, MD.

Working on her sailboat's engine
Jyane is learning to do her own boat maitenance, including engine work.

An intentional dedication to sailing

Recently I’ve made sailing a priority in my life and even negotiated my current job based in part around my sailing schedule! Sailing is a big part of who I am, and those who know me appreciate and respect that.

In January I purchased Happy Place, a Beneteau 331, which I keep at Herrington Harbour in Deale, MD. I have sailed her pretty much constantly since February, apart from the Covid lockdown. I do a lot of my own maintenance, and I’m learning more and more about systems. I recently took a marine diesel engine course at Annapolis School of Seamanship, and between this and help from friends I have kept my boat humming this year. I also own a San Juan 23, which I am prepping for a new owner. The San Juan did me well, and I’d love for her to go to someone like me.

Once my teenagers are off to college, my plan is to become a liveaboard cruiser while continuing to race. Hopefully I will be on a crew for the next Annapolis Bermuda Ocean Race. In the meantime, I’m crewing for friends in this year’s Salty Dawg Rally for more ocean time.

Sailing is a priority in Jayne's life.
Sailing is a priority in Jayne's life. She hosts "Women's Sails" every few weeks about her boat, Happy Place.

Hosting “Women’s Sails”

I really believe in learning from doing and the importance of repetition, so in addition to actively participating in HHSA’s Women Underway program, I’ve started hosting casual “women’s sails.” Every few weeks, a group of female friends come out on my boat and practice things, such as anchoring, sail trim, and being on the helm. Many of these women sail with husbands or partners, but their boat roles have become fixed. This is a good way for them to gain confidence. The best days are when we have young girls aboard too. My 14-year-old daughter is a rock star on the helm, and I love watching her being quietly capable and teaching others. 

Jayne sailing with her father
Jayne sailing with her father, John Retchford

Coming full circle

When I was a kid sailing in larger boats, I always had my dad there with me. He was the captain, and I was his first mate. When I got my own boats, I realized that I was now the captain. At first, I felt a lot of apprehension, especially having my kids and others onboard. But earlier this year I felt a shift when I took my dad sailing on Happy Place. As I gave him the safety briefing, it was very clear to both of us that I had become the skipper in charge. Having grown so much as a sailor and sharing it with my family and friends, I really felt things had come full circle.