Blog posts tagged in Sailing
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By Kayla McLaughlin, SwimSailScience and Summer Learning Project Head Sailing Instructor

 

“Teachers of young children do one of the best things that there is to do in life: bring joy and beauty, mystery and mischievous delight into the hearts of little people in their years of greatest curiosity”  -Jonathan Kozol

For the past three years I have had the pleasure of working with children from the Boston Public Schools, through the SLP and SSS programs. In that time, I have seen just how fitting the above quote is. It has been inspiring to watch 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders from some of the most difficult neighborhoods of Boston, conquer their fears, discover their passions, and accomplish their goals while sailing on the harbor.

After going sailing everyday, I usually gather my students, and talk with them about how their sail went. Everyone typically shares something they learned, something they are curious about, or a fear they had while out on the water. A few weeks ago, I was talking to Tyrese and Kathia about how their mornings went. Tyrese, a student from the Sarah Greenwood School, was having difficulty overcoming his fear of windy days. When I called on Kathia, a student at the Harvard Kent School, to tell the group what she learned on the water, she explained “Today, I learned that overcoming your fears makes you stronger”. When I asked, she elaborated, stating, “We were tipping over so much today, we got water in the boat! I knew Tyrese was scared, so I held his hand. I really liked how we worked as a team to overcome our fears. I also felt really brave, because I picked up the jelly fish that was in our boat, and put it in the water”. After her beautiful explanation, I asked Tyrese and Kathia if they felt like sailors, to which they both smiled and responded, “yes!”

Every day, I watch my staff kindle “mystery and mischievous delight” into the hearts of our students, and the students have done the same for us. My instructors and I celebrate amazing victories, such as the one I described above, and I consider it an honor to use sailing as a way to build confidence, conquer fears, and establish camaraderie and a sense of community for the young people of Boston. 

Written by Step 4 Assistant Leader, Ian Hay

Today I regained my faith in adolescents’ possession of common sense. The day was intolerably muggy and boat assignments seemed dubious as I watched my students tack deep close reach to deep close reach up out of the Mystic. We had already narrowly escaped a minor uprising after I instructed the student at the helm to bear off sharply while passing under the Tobin so as to not cross beneath the falling stream of an ironworker mid-relief in the netting above. The plan for the day was to race PHRF-style out to G13 around R10 back to G13 and finish at the Tobin. 42.10:52 read my stopwatch as we passed G13 for the first time. Awesome.

“Who wants to learn how to heave-to?”

Lobstah swayed idly along as we waited for the J-22 to round the first mark. We finally spotted them off of Piers Park and decided to de-heave ourselves and go have a chat.

 “So guys what side of this harbor are green marks on?”  “We were trying to find our lay line.” “I take it you’re still looking for it?” “……When are we going in for lunch?”

The chat wasn’t having quite the effect I had hoped for so I instructed the other boat to at least round 13 and then we could head in together for an anchored lunch in the nook. Suddenly the wind came up and I watched something that looked oddly similar to a mainsheet block erupt out of the cockpit of the 22 heading straight for its mate at the boom.

“IAAANNNN! The mainsheet thing is broookeennnn!”

Funny that, maybe they (the blocks) got lonely being so far apart on an upwind leg. I instructed the student at the helm to go into safety and search for the missing pin and ringding. Hailing the Foredeck I prayed my kids would be able to fix it on their own. Sure enough, seconds after my fingers released from the VHF call button I saw the 22 ripping along at an over-trimmed broad reach, the blocks were chatting up a storm but from a kosher distance.

They (the students) had fixed their mainsheet before I even had to think about getting onto their boat. It may seem a small victory for step 4 cruising but it was a victory nonetheless. Today my students showed me that though they may act more like sea cucumbers during chalk talks than human children they can step up and fix a problem during stressful situations without being taught how to fix it in advance. And that put a smile on my face.