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The world’s sailing community lost

a valuable and much loved member when, sailor, author, mentor and harmonizer, Diana Jessie, passed away, December 15, 2011. As Behan Gifford says, “We have

lost a dearly loved member of our family.” This holds true for the many, many folks whose lives she’s influenced over the years, and certainly rings true for us at 48° North. We first met Diana through her “Realistic Cruising,” series of books. She not only shared her vast cruising knowledge in them but did so in a common sense way that made the cruising dream doable for those who prepared and used their heads. She, with her husband Jim, did the same in her seminars at boat shows around the country. It was this down-to-earth approach

that we liked and we were very pleased when she brought her knowledge to a monthly column in 48° North for almost 20 years. Along with her book, “The Cruising Woman’s Advisor,” her sound advice gave many a Northwest sailor the confidence and encouragement they needed to pursue their dreams over the horizon. As has been said numerous times, she “demystified” sailing. Diana and Jim sailed their

48-foot, cold-molded Lapworth sloop, Nalu IV, out of the Golden Gate in 1985 and circumnavigated until ‘92. Along with winning the 9,000 mile Acapulco– Manila Memorial Regatta in 1998 and sailing the North Pacific, Nalu IV had more than 120,000 ocean miles under her keel. A few years back, the Jessies

Among the many heartfelt homages

for Diana, the following from the Gifford family is but one example of how Diana touched people’s lives.

We have lost a dearly loved member of our family.

Diana and her husband Jim came Eight Bells for

Diana Jessie She Demystified Cruising

bought and restored a 53-Foot Grand Banks which they named, what else, Nalu and lived aboard in Alameda. As John McCartney said in his

eloquent tribute to Diana in last month’s letters, “Somewhere during their circumnavigation, or perhaps because of it, Diana found a voice and became a connoisseur and spokesperson of the cruising lifestyle.” Thank you Diana for sharing your experiences and especially yourself. We are all so much richer for your time with us. 48° North Rich, Karen, Cai and Michael

Diana at the helm of “Totem” in Mexico with Jim Jessie (l) and Jamie Gifford (r).

into my life through Jamie: he originally met them while backpacking through Europe in the 80s. There’s a story that involves wandering the docks in Dubrovnik, and being irresistibly drawn by a friendly hail to the pretty sailboat with “San Francisco” as her hailing port. They’ve been an integral part of

the fabric of our lives. It’s a simple fact that this life I love so much- choosing to live afloat, embrace a nomadic path, be proud of what makes us different, I owe to the Jessies, and to Diana in particular. A spiritual mother, and a very

grounded one, Diana opened the door for me. She demystified what felt like an unattainable dream. She was passionate about sharing a woman’s perspective and experience of cruising, to put open- eyed women in the driver’s seat of what had long been a male-dominated realm. As our life goals shifted to follow

in Diana and Jimmy’s wake, she stood by and supported our steps to realize the dream. She was there to encourage us, to answer any question: some we asked, most she simply anticipated. She knew what we needed to hear, and she always had an opinion. We knew that eventually we’d

probably experience the loss of a loved one from far away, where we wouldn’t have the option to physically join the collective grieving and remembering process... the gathering to mourn and celebrate and share and heal that our culture uses to mark a passing. We knew it would be difficult. There’s just little irony in the fact that it was Diana who taught this lesson originally — to anticipate and make peace, as we lived every day to the fullest. – Behan

Diana Jessie’s memorial will be

Saturday, February 4, at Oakland Yacht Club from 1 to 4PM. Please contact OYC/elaine at 510-522-6868


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