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Home / Opportunities / Wednesday Night Sails
Home / Opportunities / Wednesday Night Sails

Wednesday Night Sails

Wednesday Night Sails bring community skippers and OWSA fleet boats together for a weekly sail through the summer season. During the off-season, a monthly sail is tentatively planned. Sign up for WNS sail invite-announcement that comes out 5 days before a sail.

The Spring/Summer Sail

Spring sailing is known for strong current, debris, and some fun sailing! Once the spring waters have receded, weather is warmer, and we have more boats on the water. You need to be a paid up member to go out on a Wednesday Night Sail (WNS). While you are logged into our web page, update your interests and experience. I use the experience tag to create balanced boats. I try to have you out on a different boat each time you sail, and if possible different crew. You will start your sailing network by the people you meet on WNS. Keep track of what you learned, what your new goals are, what questions you have. The WNS evening starts with you arriving at your assigned boat by about 5:30p. You need to be at the boat and ready to sail by 6pm. Depending on the weather, boat, crew, conditions, wind, your sail could last 2-3 hours.  Once back at the dock, the whole crew puts food out for everyone to enjoy and reflect on the sail. Discuss communications, the fluky wind, what worked well.

How it starts out is you login to your account on our web site: Then sign up for the sail that has the soonest date to go out. Follow the prompts. Sign-ups open on Friday mornings, about 10am. Whether you get the email announcement or not, as long as you are a paid up member, you should be able to sign up. Write me if you can't. You can sign up from Friday morning, until about 2pm on Monday. After that you have to send me an email. Sometimes I still have spots, so it is worth it to try.  Monday night, hopefully before midnight, I post the crew lists. It will have your boat location, skipper name, and crew contact information. Here is the important part: cancel as soon as you can, once you know you need to cancel. If you cancel before I post the crew lists, no harm, no foul. If you cancel once the crew lists are out, it makes me cranky. I know life happens, I get that. Again, write and call your skipper asap, and cc If possible, I will try and fill the seat, but that is not always possible. Which brings us to the Wait List. I sign women up in first come, first serve order. If I don't have enough places for crew, I send you a Wait List, instead of a Crew List. If you get the Wait List email, consider if you can go Standby. That is, I will try and fill any cancelations with Wait Listed/Standby repliers. If you can plan to sail, even though you might not, email with your PHONE NUMBER. We need to keep it very simple. You give me a phone number, and if I have a place for you I call you. I usually give 30 minutes to get back to me, and then I move onto the next person in line.

Provisioning: Bring food to share after the sail that is easy and doesn't need a lot of napkins. Unless you bring the napkins and wet naps. I like protein after a sail. Fruit/vedgies are also a welcome snack. Nuts, chocolate, crackers with dips/cheese/other protein are good one-handed foods. The Safeway on the island is closed now, so you really have to plan ahead! Some skippers appreciate an adult beverage, but some don't drink. Find out the rules of your boat.

Getting to the island: Getting to Hayden Island is the big trick these days. The only road to Hayden Island is I-5. If you are coming from the Washington side, no problem! Depending on where you are at in Portland, like east pdx, driving over the I-205 bridge to Vancouver, then west on Hwy 14, and then back south to Oregon on the I-5 bridge sometimes works well. Whatever you do, avoid the Spiral of Death, that is the approach from the end of MLK Blvd, or Marine Drive.  It is a horrible clover leaf onto I-5, and then the island exit. Once on, you will regret it. In any other traffic, besides the going-home traffic, it is not that bad. Just avoid it at rush hour. One of the best strategies is to leave early. I give myself an extra hour to get to the island. Some women take a half-day or full day off work; I understand this not possible for everyone. Finally, and this takes some thinking and planning, you can take your bike onto the light rail. Get off at the last stop, and then ride your bike through that cloverleaf, sidewalk on I-5, and then ride on the island to your moorage. The hard part about this one is you have to go the same way back, it is dark, and you have been sailing. You could have someone pick you up! But make sure you have bike lights. Check the map carefully to find the best way from the light rail, to the island. Be careful at all crossings.

Be supportive of all sailors and where their skill set lands. Use different words if it seems like someone doesn't understand what you are saying. When a quiet moment comes, go over the operations if someone was not sure how it went, made a mistake, or want to increase their vocabulary and learn the words.

Gear: Everyone must have a pfd. Personal Flotation Device. You can get a fancy one, or a paddlers one, just make sure it is up-to-date, covers your weight class, and fits. We recommend gloves. You can use bike gloves, gardening gloves, or sailing gloves. Take the time to find what you like best. Shoes should be comfortable and non-marking. Do not wear flip-flops. Very unsafe. The skipper will have you go barefoot, and that is not the safest, either. Out side of that, wear layers! On the way out to sail it may be quite hot, maybe you want skin covering wind breaker. Once the sun goes down, it will get chilly.

Don't forget your water. Chapstick. Sun screen.

Never argue with a skipper. Or actually, anyone on board a boat. The skipper is the ultimate authority of their boat. Do what they ask. If you need clarification, communicate that, if it is an emergency just do what they ask. All of our skippers go through a vetting, and we get feedback every week on how things go. Our skippers are the best and like to teach the joy of sailing! If there is some difference of opinion, wait until the debrief after the sail and discuss during the food portion of the program. You will find there are many ways to do any one thing on a boat. Listen and learn. Be respectful.

July sailing dates are: July 11, 18, 25th.

August sailing dates are: (tentatively) August 8, 15, 22, and 29th. There may also be one Docking Clinic in August.

The raft-up is going to be either September 12, or 19th. This is a special end-of-the season event, kind of like a potluck reunion. Larger boats raft-up in Grandma's Cove and we share food, boat hop and howl with laughter. I have the boats arrive in staggered time, so each boat can raft-up without worry.

Any questions, comments, critical feedback welcome to Your feedback helps shape the program.

See you on the water!

Wednesday Night Sail (WNS) Rides Again! A few words from Carisa Bohus, WNS Chair

WNS starts with the Meet the Skippers meeting May 2. Portland Yacht Club, 6:30-7:30pm. This meeting is your opportunity to talk, meet, observe, and learn about our community building skippers. If you have a question in mind, consider sending it to me in advance to keep the meeting moving. I appreciate it.

For those new to our Magical Making Moments, aka WNS, the season runs from mid-May generally through August. It ends with a raft-up potluck in early September that is divine. We sail most weeks; the exceptions are holiday weeks and OWSA meetings. I assign you different boats, skippers, and crew as widely as I can: WNS is your introduction to build your sailing network.

Each week, I send out an announcement on Friday. You have until Monday afternoon to sign up for the sail by going to our website,, click on the calendar, find the sail, and sign up. You will hear a lot of kicking and screaming by me about cancellations.  IF YOU SIGN UP, BE SURE AND GO ON THE SAIL. Don't tick me off! I could wax on about this, but basically, once I post the crew lists Monday night, hopefully by midnight, cancellations make me really cranky. Believe me, I know life happens, and women sometimes have to cancel, I get that. If you cancel before I post the crew lists, no biggy. If you're not sure about your transpo, or your work schedule, or your family responsibilities, just skip that week. We are sailing all summer long!

By Monday at midnight, I will send out the crew lists. This email will have your boat, boat location, skipper, and the rest of the crew contact info. You will go to the boat each WNS week on Wednesday, by 5:30pm, ready to sail. You will bring a personal flotation device(PFD), water, and a snack to share. I recommend having something to eat in the late afternoon as well, you won't eat the snack to share until after the sail, so you will be hungry!  Your shoes should be white-soled and non-marking. If you forget and bring non-sailing shoes, be prepared to go barefoot. It's all about safety!

I welcome all critical feedback. I enjoy pictures and good words as well, but all improvements come from yours and my observations, so do not hesitate to give me your impressions and suggestions. As a final note for now, I am training new women how to run the sail, so be kind, flexible, and open to changes. See you on the water!

Carisa Bohus, WNS Chair,

Previous web page content:

Wednesday Night Sail begins in May through early September.*

A great way to meet new friends, practice skills and gain experience on a variety of boats. Share your boat, or crew with someone. Open and free to all women OWSA members. Here's how it works: You must be a current member of OWSA to participate in WNS. If you have just become a member of OWSA, you will automatically begin receiving invitations to WNS within two weeks of joining. When you join OWSA, indicate your sailing experience level. We use that information to assign a mix of experience levels on each boat.

If you have questions about participating in Wednesday Night Sail, please email

How to Sign up: Each Friday night or Saturday morning*, an email is sent to all OWSA members, inviting both skippers and crew to participate on the upcoming Wednesday. Those who wish to participate must sign up at

  • Click on Calendar in the top menu
  • Click on the blue underlined "Wednesday Night Sail" for this week's sail
  • Click on "please login to make a booking"respond by Monday at noon.
  • On Monday evening, the skipper/crew lists are emailed out, along with contact information for the skipper and directions to the boat. Boats are at a variety of locations along the Columbia River.

Crew Members: You are responsible to provide your own Personal Flotation Device (PFD), and wear appropriate attire (dress in layers and wear non-marking shoes). It is also customary to bring a snack to share with other crew members and the skipper. We recommend bringing sailing gloves. Typically, Crew members need to be at the boat at 5:30 - no later than 5:45 pm, but at the discretion of the Skipper. This gives you time to stow your gear and help prepare the boat to sail. Typically, Boats leave the dock at 6:00 pm and sail till dusk, and you don't want to miss the Boat!

First Mates: Experienced sailors, we need you to serve as First Mates on WNS.

Skippers (Boat Owners): This is your chance to pass on the joy of sailing and take part in OWSA's core mission of encouraging women to sail. Wednesday Night Sails is so popular that we almost always need more boats, and we really appreciate your willingness to help out. We have many members who are very experienced and can provide you the confidence to take your boat out on the river! Please let us know if you have special requests so we can partner you with the skill-sets/experience level you prefer.

If you'd like to join us on Wednesday nights as a boat owner, please complete the WNS Skipper Agreement Form and WNS Skipper Application Form. Questions? Contact

*Additional Special Sails and Weather Watch Sails during the off-Season may be offered in a similar manner.

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