Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Feeling Courageous In Boston

The ocean, of course, was the key to the city of Boston's rise to greatness. In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, merchant vessels, fishing schooners, warships and countless other sailing craft plied the narrow entrance to Boston Harbor, seeking out one of the continent's best natural anchorages. The city was often the first port of call for ships completing an Atlantic crossing from Europe, or the last departure point for those headed east. Sailing is in the city's blood, and yet by the time the late 20th century came to pass, evidence of this rich maritime heritage was barely visible.

Founded in 1987 to help re-establish Boston as a sailing mecca, and to positively influence local children through learning, growth and leadership, Courageous Sailing has already become a prominent part of Boston's social fabric. Hundreds of kids utilize Courageous's three locations each year, and graduate from the five-step summer program as more knowledgeable, responsible, and well-rounded individuals. This week, the US SAILING Roadshow was able to experience two of these sites, and came away awed by the scope and ambition of the center's programs.

On Tuesday, we visited Courageous Sailing headquarters, located at Pier 4 in Charlestown. It was from this site that the organization got its name, as it was once home to the two-time America's Cup winning 12-metre yacht Courageous. The boat itself has long since departed, but in its place is an operation that is the envy of coastal cities across the country.

An impressive fleet of J-22's, Rhodes 19's, assorted keelboats, Lasers and other equipment line the floating docks, awaiting an enterprising youth class or adult group to take them out. Earlier in the summer, Courageous helped host the visiting Extreme Sailing Series, and was named the official charity of the regatta. (You may recall us interviewing Executive Director Amy VanDoren at the event!)

While cloudy skies dampened the scenery somewhat, the weather could not suppress the enthusiasm of the students themselves, who were happy to stay out sailing the Roadshow O'Pen Bics until the last possible minute. Tuesday also saw Courageous play host the U.S. Rhodes 19 Junior Championships, which the neighboring Piers Park Sailing Center also took part in.

On Wednesday, we stopped by Camp Harbor View, located on Boston Harbor's Long Island. The main summer camp, which is a separate entity, has all of its sailing activities run by capable Courageous staff members. The Roadshow vehicle has been parked in some dramatic places so far this summer, but few can compare to the spot we had today on their huge pier. The truck was 500 feet out into the harbor!

Specializing in at-risk children from the cities of Boston and Chelsea, Camp Harbor View offers an impressive range of activities considering the camp itself is less than six years old. These include field sports, basketball, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, volleyball, sailing, and more. Using the O'pen Bic dinghies also marked the first time that each of the campers had sailed solo, having exclusively learned on a Rhodes 19. In a testament to the skill of the Courageous staff, each kid was capable of sailing the Bics around the area with minimal coaching assistance. Some became so confident that they asked to receive their first experience with capsizing, and into the water they went!

Without a doubt, the Roadshow crew got to experience community sailing at its very best this week, at two unique and beautiful locations. It really seems like the city of Boston is poised to take back its sailing identity once again, led by Courageous and its unwavering mission.


Some more photos!

Circling up at the beginning of class. - Courageous/ Camp Harbor View


Charting an expedition to nearby Thompson Island. 
- Courageous/ Camp Harbor View

Lunchtime. - Camp Harbor View

There seem to be infinite ways to sit in/on an O'pen Bic! 

Local professional sports franchises are frequent donors to Camp Harbor View. 
Go Pats.

A paddleboard mothership.
 - Courageous/ Camp Harbor View

Just plain adorable. 
- Courageous/ Camp Harbor View

1 comment:

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