Queene didn’t have access to boats when she was small, so she built model boats of scavenged parts and set them free in lakes, or placed them artfully in snowdrifts in order to take pictures, sometimes heeling them over during a blinding squall like the great racing schooners, GERTRUDE THEBAUD and BLUENOSE. All the sailing she could do then was through Morris Rosenfeld’s photo books and Alf Loomis articles in Yachting. When she reached the age of 12, she wrote Rod Stephens and asked him to tank-test a hull if she promised to sail it later. Ted Hood helped her build a mainsail, which enabled her to write about building mainsails in college some years later. That model she built stood eight feet tall and had to be chased down with a fast mothership, or she would have taken off out of sight across the bay.
After college, Queene still didn’t know much about boats but bought a Luders 16 and sailed around the creeks of the Chesapeake. She came to dislike the boat’s long overhanging bow and stern that made it bounce back and forth in the short choppy waters of the Bay. As her ambitions grew, she and her friend Betsy Meyer purchased a beautiful Concordia Yawl named BUCKAROO TOO, but the boat seemed like a Jonah to their friendship and they couldn’t seem to agree on anything. So she sold her half and bought another Concordia, named MOONFLEET which was rough, but affordable. Almost nothing on her worked. But after making all kinds of mistakes and at times scaring herself silly, she learned to bring that boat in and out of harbors without benefit of an engine, how to store a varnish brush for instant use, and how to sail out of sight of land.
After a gradual upgrade, the boat became faster around the race course and more reliable in rough weather. While beating to weather in a force seven Gulf Stream gale during the 1982 Newport-to-Bermuda Race, Queene realized she had a good boat and had become a real sailor.
The big Aage Nielsen cruising ketch SAPHAEDRA was her next boat, which she and her family lived aboard for 18 summers, enjoying the new classic yacht regattas from Newport to Brooklin, Maine. Eventually she could count on winning some kind of prize wherever she raced. She took her family to the Bay of Fundy to see the whales and the big tidal whirlpool named Old Sow. Queene was the first woman to skipper her own boat in a Bermuda Race, then sailed SAPHAEDRA across the Atlantic in 11 days to enter the 2001 America’s Cup Jubilee in Cowes, where she receive a prize presented by Princess Anne herself.
Queene’s sailing is more modest these days, but teaching sailing and demonstrating the magic of boats is as rewarding to her as it could ever be. She teaches at the WoodenBoat School on her present Concordia Yawl MISTY. And if the winds are too calm to fill the sails, she starts telling her students sea stories.
|Virtues of a Yawl Rig: We wanted Queene Foster to help us understand the advantages of a yawl rig and traditional yawls because of her long exp...