“I’ll clear one question up for y’all before you ask it because I know you’re going to eventually,” said the thin and soft-spoken cadet, “that fuzzy stuff up on the rigging is called baggy wrinkle; we make it from old dock lines and it’s used as chafe protection for our sails.” From the aft deck of the USCGC Eagle eight young necks, including my own, craned up to get a better look at what our guide was pointing to.b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG_7663.JPG

I imagine hundreds of people will be told the same thing in the same spot and look upwards in the same way this weekend, but their experience will be different. They will not look up to see two headsails and four staysails trimmed for a westerly breeze. They will not look over the rail to see water streaming past the massive white hull. They will not be cooled by evaporation of salt spray from the bow wake of the 45 foot response boat that shuttled us across to the Eagle.

At Courageous young people not only learn to sail, but also gain a truly special new perspective on their home city. From the tiller of a 19 foot keelboat the harbor seems massive to a young person, made more so by the few inches that separate them from the water. On the deck of the 295 foot Eagle, one feels small again, not from ferries and pilings but from the three massive masts supporting all 22,280 square feet of her sail area.

I have never heard the word “explore” used more on a sailboat than I did from the three campers and four instructors in training that accompanied me on the Eagle yesterday. We wove through the clusters of sharply dressed big wigs and dignitaries who dotted the fore and aft decks. While the other guests stayed close to the rails for pictures of the harbor, the kids poked around on the lower main deck leaving no open door or hatch uninvestigated. Their interest was understandable, they see the skyline from the water every day, how often do you get to see a Laundromat behind a waterproof steel door?!

Despite being the youngest people aboard the IITs and students were given a great deal of respect and attention from the crew. One of the students asked our guide if the coast guard ever raced and he immediately brought another cadet over to us who introduced himself as a member of the coast guard’s offshore racing team. He asked the students and IIT’s about their sailing experience, about racing and what it was like to learn to sail in Boston. He put in one last plug for offshore racing before being pulled away for his duties preparing the dock lines.

As we approached the navy yard excitement grew and we found an open spot on the starboard rail. “Is that really step two down there?” one student asked, “I didn’t know we looked that small!” Fingers were pointed and waving hands exchanged between us and our fellow campers and coworkers below.

Soon we were tied to pier 4 and looking down at the roof of the boathouse. Though the docking was fascinating, the taunting aromas that wafted from the galley skylight below us and from the courageous barbecue made our departure from the ship a fast one. We thanked the cadets and the captain and made our way down the steep gangway thus ending a truly wonderful and unique experience.

I will never forget the day I sailed the Eagle to my home pier and I doubt the campers and IIT’s will either. Hurricane Harry said a child’s life is improved with 50 yards offshore; I bet 50 feet above the water helps too.

By Ian Hay, Courageous Assistant Site Director

            

It's time to think about summer!

Winter is officially over, and only a few weeks remain until we open our doors for the 2015 season on May 1st! We have been working hard to increase programming this winter and build our fleet. Read on to catch up on the latest the Courageous adult program has to offer!

Jake Denney, Adult Program Director

Volunteer Day and April Open Houses 
As a community organization, Courageous cannot operate without the support of our members, neighbors, and friends. Volunteer Day and our April Open Houses are a great way to get involved and meet some new people if you are new to Courageous, and for long-time supporters to help spread us the word.

Volunteer Day will take place on Saturday, April 11, from 10am-4pm. Please join us for a day of getting the boats and boathouse ready for the season--no experience necessary, and lunch will be served! Sign up and get more information here.

April Open Houses are 12-3pm on April 18, 25, and 26. During Open Houses we offer discounts on memberships and lessons, free half hour sails, and a BBQ. If you'd like to take people out sailing (Green Flag and experienced Yellow Flag members only), man the grill, or help with sign-ins, please sign up here. This is a great time to renew your membership and purchase lessons, and the last chance to get discounted prices before the season starts! To take advantage of the Open House discounts without attending in person, you can purchase memberships and lessons online or by phone (617-242-3821).

New Courses, New Boats
This summer Courageous is excited to announce two new adult program courses--Safe Powerboating and Sportboat Sailing.

In Safe Powerboating, students learn the basic of powerboat operation through both hands-on and classroom work. The first course of the year is offered on April 25th and 26th from 9am-5pm each day. Graduates earn a certificate endorsed by NASBLA, the USCG, and US Powerboating. To sign up or ask a question about this course, please call 617-242-3821, email Jake Denney, or visit our website. We are currently offering this class at a 10% Open House discount.

In the 12 hour Sportboat Sailing class, students will learn advanced sail trim techniques and how to use an asymmetrical spinnaker. This class will be taught on one of our J/80s and is highly encouraged for those interested in Sportboat Memberships. A Green Flag on the water rating is required to take this course. We'll also be offering shorter instruction sessions on the J/80s for Yellow Flag sailors who want a taste of what it's like to sail a sportboat. The Sportboat Sailing schedule will be posted online by May 1st. For questions on course content or about our growing fleet of J/80s, call 617-242-3821 or email Jake Denney.

Additions to the Courageous fleet this year include a Canadian Sailcraft 30, a Pearson 34, two J/80s, a Rhodes 19, and a new safety boat for the Youth Program. We are proud to be making such strides in improving the quality of our fleet and offering expanded programming. Feel free to contact Courageous with any questions about our new Cruising and Sportboat Memberships.

Summer Racing Series 

Advanced Rhodes 19 Racing: Last year we heard that racers wanted this long summer series broken up into shorter series, similar to how we run Frostbite racing. So this year, Tuesday night racing will be broken into spring, summer, and fall series, each lasting 6 weeks. Racing starts at 6PM each night, and registration fees have been lowered and broken up by series to encourage more participation. Check out the full NOR for pricing and more information.
* Series 1: May 5, 12, 19, 26, June 2, 9
* Series 2: June 16, 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21
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I asked all of the Youth Program staff to write blog posts for me that show what Courageous means to them and/or about a story that embodies their time at Courageous. I feel it is only fair for me to do the same…

I came to Courageous in 2011 after calling Kate, the Youth Program Director, and asking if she was interested in hiring an Environmental Educator. She enthusiastically said yes. So in 2011 I started as the Step Green Program Coordinator, took a hiatus in 2012, then returned in 2013 as the Courageously Green Environmental Education Program Director- a continuation of the Step Green program. From there, I moved on to become the Youth Program Outreach Coordinator where I assisted the Youth Program in all aspects including hiring staff for the summer of 2014, finding at-risk Boston Public School students for the SwimSailScience program, and helping with program design, organization, and public relations.

Even with all of those titles and responsibilities, Courageous meant more to me than just a job. Courageous is a place where I learned, under the guidance of the Youth Program Director and Executive Director, how to become a fair, respected, and kindhearted leader. Courageous is a place where I honed my strengths in multitasking and delegation. I will always remember my time at Courageous as more than just working at a sailing center, but as a place where I made a community and witnessed one of the strongest, most sincere, hardest working non-profit organizations in the community sailing world.

Over the three years I have worked here, I have held the hand of a fearful little girl from Dorchester and helped her conquer her fear of sailing, inspired instructors to study Environmental Studies in their college careers, and hopefully acted as a role model for how to be a successful woman in the sailing and science communities. This is what Courageous really is- a spot where one can both be inspired and be an inspiration.  

And the sailing instructors and educators that I worked with at Courageous this summer are truly inspiring. They all care so deeply about the mission of our work and about changing lives by encouraging and teaching a passion for sailing. I will miss all of their random stories at the end of the day, their laughs about the weird activities that I plan, and their insightful questions about recycling and the environment.

As I move across the country and say goodbye to Courageous, I have no concerns about the future of this wonderful nonprofit. The leadership, instructors, and sailing students will keep this place thriving for years and years to come. In the end, I have to thank the two people who could never possibly understand how much what they do matters. Kate, the current Youth Program Director, is hands-down one of the hardest working people I have ever met. I will forever wonder at how she does so much, juggles so many boats, personnel, grants, and other various details. Kate has been an exceptional mentor, teaching me how to let go of the things that don’t matter and how to be passionate about the things that do matter- such as giving urban youth the opportunity to experience sailing and benefit from a fun, engaging summer youth program. I am truly lucky to have had Kate for a supervisor and even luckier that I can call her a friend.

And Dave, our current Executive Director, who is the other hardest working person I have ever met. I have to thank him for always believing in me and appreciating what I do. It is very rare to find a boss who has so many things on his/her plate yet still takes time to show how much he respects and values his employees. Dave has shown me how important it is to be a patient leader- that taking your time with certain decisions really does pay off. Having an Executive Director who is grateful, rational, and strong makes the employees work harder and better so they can live up to his example and make him proud, and in the end his leadership is what makes Courageous so successful.

Courageous Sailing is really the warm, sometimes a little wacky, community that everyone says it is. It keeps people returning year after year, looking for the meaningful purpose, the environment, and the heart that is at its core. I can’t wait to return after some time away to see all of the incredible things that is group has accomplished. Fair winds and see you all again soon :)

-Rebecca Inver, Youth Program Outreach Coordinator

By Allison McGuirk and Martin Weissgerber

A few weeks ago, I had a front row seat to hands-down the greatest show I have ever seen: the step 1/  2 talent show.  We had been cooped up in the big tent all day because of torrential rain and lightning, so our step leaders decided that it would be a great idea to see what talents or skills our kids possessed. In my experience, it can be like pulling teeth to get kids to open up enough to show you a talent or a skill, and some of these kids had only been together for 2 full days at this point, so I figured that only a few of the most extroverted kids would use the 10 short minutes that we gave them to put together a routine; however, I was completely wrong.  All but around 5 of the kids participated in the talent show with acts that varied from opera singing to a scottish jig to gymnastics to regular singing to tying a knot while planking while reciting the ABCs.  I was literally shocked to see that some of our shyest and smallest kids were willing to get up in front of a group of 10 instructors and 30 of their peers to perform raw, unrehearsed, and sometimes ridiculous talents.  As I helped give out prizes to all of the kids who participated right after the talent show (some stylish sunglasses), I realized that this talent show really epitomized the Courageous experience.  Courageous is a place where everyone is quirky, and everyone's quirks are valued.  Every kid knew that his or her audience would be receptive and supportive of whatever he or she wanted to share, and that is what made the talent show so special.  This environment is one that allows kids from all different backgrounds and of all different personality types to take risks and to be who they are.  This is the atmosphere that helped me to grow into a confident sailor and young adult, and I am so proud to work here helping kids to gain confidence in themselves every day. – Allison McGuirk

On the first Wednesday of the first session it was pouring rain and thundering. Due to the latter, we could not go out sailing. Step 1, under the command of Emily Gaylord, decided to orchestrate a talent show. As kids signed up I read the list and saw a boy names Isaiah had signed up to sing ‘God Bless America.’ I thought it was him trying to be funny, yet when he took the stage, I was amazed. He broke into an opera voice, rendering the audience into a stunned disbelief. It was amazing to see a child have the courage to stand up in front of kids he had known for only three days, and put his heart into a song. I love Step 1 because the kids are too young to feel self-conscious. They do what they want and always amaze their fellow campers and instructors. – Martin Weissgerber

By Shamus Connelly

As an older kid at an after school program when I was in fifth grade, I was told to be a good example for the other children. If I was messing around they would tell me that I needed to be a good role model, that the younger students looked up to and copied me. As an ten year old boy I thought this was ridiculous. However, as an IIT at Courageous I have found this to be very true. It amazes me how after only minutes of working with new campers both instructor and students have built a relationship. I love to see the kids requesting a certain instructor or finding such satisfaction in just saying "HI!" to their favorite IIT. It makes me happy that we can be so important and influential in their learning.

I was really inspired to write about this yesterday when I visited my friend's house and saw his ten year old brother, a camper from last session, who is a role model himself by the standards of my old after school. I heard him yell my name and turned around to a gleaming face and a big hug. Spending time with him brought me back to our time at Courageous. And you can call us instructors role models but these little kids have made a positive influence in my life as well. I cherish how we've all grown through our experiences at Courageous. It only takes a fist bump from an SSS camper or a request from a step 2 student to be their instructor for me to see how we instructors have such a big influence on the children and to find pride in our role during their time as a camper. Even my fellow IIT Brandon and I, through our struggles as possible future 3rd year IITs, have had a positive role in the growth and experiences of these campers. This connection has encouraged me to be a better person and has made me proud to be at Courageous Sailing.