Junior Sailing class in Georgetown teaches kids the basics and more

  • Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ben Hendrix sails during the new Junior Sailing class held at the South Carolina Maritime Museum in Georgetown.

Taking to the water in Georgetown Harbor aboard small handcrafted wooden boats, students of a new Junior Sailing class are learning the basics and more.
Instructors Kate Bibb and Mary McAlister, each with many years of sailing experience, are teaching local children about safety, fun and courtesy involved with sailing.
“I love working with these small students because they are so enthusiastic about my favorite thing — sailing,” Bibb said.
“It is so rewarding to see the kids’ faces light up when they take off.”
The Junior Sailing committee — made up of sailing enthusiasts, several of whom are talented boat builders — met for the first time last July with a mission to offer youth sailing opportunities in the Georgetown area.
They decided to build small boats called opti prams, which are known in the sailing community as the ideal boats for teaching junior sailing students due to their stability, size and weight. They now have eight of these boats, but will soon have 10, McAlister said.

Class activities

Class activities include sailing, safety talks by an official from the U.S. Coast Guard, games such as Sailing Bingo, where they name the parts of the boat, and competitions such as races, Boat Tag and Hot Potato.
Bibb said another game they play is Dancing on the Hull, where they turn the boat over in the water and dance on the bottom.
“It adds to the fun and reduces anxiety about capsizing,” she said.

Sponsors and volunteers

In addition to the leadership and support from the South Carolina Maritime Museum in Georgetown, the class would not be possible without sponsors such as The River Room Restaurant, Coastal Wire Company, Harbor Specialties (Beaufort, N.C.), Independent Seafood, Seven Rivers Aviation and Turner Perrow.
Ashley DesMarteau, a committee member and the mother of the youngest member of the committee, Griffin DesMarteau, said one of the most important volunteers was Bill Hartis.
“Without Bill, this would all still be a dream,” she said. “The whole community has really stepped up. That is one of the great things about the Georgetown area, we have a great pool of resources.”
The three-and-a-half hour classes, which last a week, are being offered through the end of July, but organizers say there are only a few spots left. Registration is $175.
Anyone interested in signing up a child for the classes can contact the South Carolina Maritime Museum at 843-520-0111.

By Clayton Stairs

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