Wet Hens’ celebrate 55 Year Tradition

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Oelrich
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs

Past and present instructors from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s historic sailing program, the Wet Hens, returned to their beloved Hickam Harbor to celebrate the group’s 55th anniversary of the Wet Hens, June 30, 2016.


The group, which teaches military spouses to sail, was started in 1961, when then harbormaster, Lou Foster, took on his first students.  Early in their training, he referred to his students as a bunch of "wet hens," and the name stuck.


 After learning to sail, the women were inspired to share their newfound skills with other women. As each Hen leaves the island she is replaced by a graduate from the class – a tradition that has been occurring non-stop since the group’s inception.


According to Cindy Jones, skipper for the Wet Hens, approximately one hundred people attended the anniversary, shared stories, and sailed in the harbor.


“We are excited to have everyone here,” said Jones. “We are excited to hear the memories and show what has changed and what is still the same after all these years.”


One of Hens attending the event was Sally Fortson, who joined the Wet Hens in 1985.


“I joined because I loved the water and I wanted to sail,” said Fortson. “I wanted to sail so much that I took swimming lessons just so that I could take the sailing lessons. Once I started sailing I was so scared I would not let go of the mast. It took a lot of sailing for me to gain my confidence, but I did it. I did it because the Hens build a bond that the students don’t get from other types of sailing classes.” 


According to Jones, their love of sailing and the special bond that automatically comes from being part of this special group allows them to know even though each new generation of instructors brings different faces, the same Hen spirit remains.


As one generation of Wet Hens is succeeded by the next, the group literally surpasses its motto of being “a lifetime thing.”


“The Wet Hens is a place to make friends, have fun, overcome personal limits, and build the confidence that comes from learning a challenging sport,” said Jones. “It  is also a place to find support when loved ones are deployed to far-away places.”


For more information about the Wet Hens sailing class, see their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Wet-Hens-Sailing-111322528909365/