pic 1
Youth getting hands on offshore equipment training on Dave Irish’s No Surprise.

It's not so much thinking out of the box; it's realizing that we built the box and that we must climb out of it. That's the scenario with introducing young people to keelboat sailing.

The growth of organized youth sailing in the USA has kept the focus on small age-based dinghies, with attempts to introduce alternatives often halted by fears of getting left behind. While participation in youth-type dinghies has seen tremendous growth, it has come at the expense of everything else.

Prior to building the structure of youth sailing, young people had freer reign at all the types of boat that were in their harbor. But now, once young people age-out of youth sailing, they are less likely to have experienced these alternatives, and certainly less skilled once they do.

Keelboat sailing is one of the logical entrées on the adult menu, particularly since it can cost nothing. With the 20-somethings now off the 'parental dole' and on their own, the 'cost nothing' is a price they can afford.

But keelboat racing requires skills that go beyond reading the course chart and trimming the sails. It requires seamanship... the kind of stuff kids once picked up as kids. In the absence of organic learning, a solution has been the Storm Trysail Foundation's Junior Safety-At-Sea seminars.

The Little Traverse Yacht Club (Harbor Springs, MI) hosted Storm Trysail Club’s and Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation's first Junior Safety at Sea Seminar last month. It was the first Junior Safety at Sea program held on the Great Lakes. Irish Boat Shop offered its classroom, docks, and treated the juniors and coaches to breakfast, snacks, lunch and post seminar pizza.

pic 1 pic 1
 Young sailors discover necessary skill to ascend into a life raft from the water at the LMSRF Junior Safety at Sea seminar.   Designated “Survivor of the Storm” at the LMSRF Junior Safety at Sea seminar at LMSRF Member Club Little Traverse Yacht Club.

Fourteen members of the Little Traverse racing team attended the seminar. Their head coach, Dan Thompson, worked with Storm Trysail moderator Rich du Moulin to organize the agenda and required equipment. Morning activities included Rich's presentation of Carina's 2011-2012 circumnavigation, a session on Heavy Weather Preparations, the viewing of the Storm Trysail Club’s Man Overboard movie, and dockside drills on Dave Irish's J/111, No Surprise.

pic 1
Carter Williams’ Creative Destruction on the way out to Little Traverse Bay for hands on safety training for youth.   

After lunch the juniors went sailing in the J/111 and Carter Williams’ J/105, Creative Destruction. After three hours of upwind QuickStops and downwind QuickStops, the final evolution was a Lifesling recovery with a swimmer. The final hour ashore included discussions of Abandon Ship in case of severe flooding or fire, and live, in-water demonstrations with an inflatable liferaft (courtesy of Carter Williams) and PFDs.

pic 1Happy survivor in the life raft at the first-ever Junior Safety at Sea program on the Great Lakes.

Everyone had a great time, the hospitality was over the top, and planning is underway for 2018.

Source: Scuttlebutt, Lake Michigan Sail Racing Federation, All Photos by Rich du Moulin


Lets go sailing.

"Alright now, this is a night start don't forget; so let's get somebody on lookout up on that bow...

Alright now, did you figure the current? For chrissake do I have to do everything? And don't forget to figure the daylight saving. What? No, you add an hour, for chrissake, can't anybody here sail a boat? What did he say? He said "turn off the engine". Oh, yeah. OK, how long 'til our start? Who's on the stopwatch? OK, you get back here outta the way and stay there.

Alright now, let's come about and get over near the committee boat. Alright, let's come about. COMIN' ABOUT! Wheres the handle, where's the handle - TAIL, willya, fer chrissake!! How's that? Take it in to the block. That's enough.

BANG! What gun was that? That was OUR GUN. Did you get that on the watch? Do you see that guy? Yeah, I see him. Alright now, we got five more minutes. Let's run the line for a second. You can't, YOU'RE ON PORT TACK. Oh, yeah, OK, let's come about again. COMIN' ABOUT! FOUR MINUTES, Well it's too crowded over here, let's get down to leeward where our air is clear.

CRASH!!!! What was that???? Well, put the stove in gimbals, for chrissake. Clean it up later, get up here. What the hell are you doing down there anyway? You can eat at home! THREE MINUTES...Did anybody center the prop? Well, center it, Charlie, don't stand there. There's a flashlight overhead in the doghouse. Well, try another one, I put all new batteries in yesterday. TWO MINUTES...Two minutes for chrissake where's the other end of the line, they got a line two miles long. We gotta come about. COMING ABOUT...OK, let it go letitgogoddamm it. Alright, get it in, get it in. It's fouled on the lifeline. DON'T JERK IT! You'll pull the goddam boat apart. Trim, trim, trim, OK, hold that. Where's the ------ing committee boat. We gotta come about again. COMING ABOUT! More turns, more turns. OK, cleat that. ONE MINUTE--Alright, slack everything, slack the jib, slack the main, SLACK THE MAIN...OK hold that ...THIRTY SECONDS...OK we're going for the line. Trim, trim, trim the main. FIFTEEN SECONDS...OK everybody up to windward....TEN SECONDS ...NINE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX, FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE.....for chrissake where's that gun...We're over the line. They'll never see us down here anyway. BANG! OK, we've started.

You did a great job with that stopwatch. OK, let's get these lines coiled up, I can't stand up in the cockpit. Good start, guys."