Smooth Sailing: Camp rears new sailors

Smooth Sailing: Camp rears new sailors - A group of people on a boat - Sail

“There’s no crying in sailing,” Captain Chris Anderson tells three slightly scared five-and six-year-olds on the first session’s morning class for kids eight and under. “Now pull in the sail, and let’s go to Mermaid Island.”

Where is Mermaid Island, you ask? Well, it’s the floating docks at the City Marina at Boot Key Harbor, headquarters for the Marathon Yacht Club Education Foundation’s (MYCEF) summer sailing camp.  

“Captain Chris makes daily adjustments to meet the needs of the kids and life lessons happen along the way,” said Ruth Olsen of MYCEF, which sponsors the camp.

He’s taught the ropes to 48 students (ages 5 to 18) this summer. When he isn’t teaching kids to sail, he’s captained tall ships, offshore supply boats and private yachts. He hopes to move his wife to the Keys from Arizona as quickly as possible. “We love it here,” he said. “We love this community.”

“Captain Chris takes the responsibility of teaching the kids very seriously,” said Olsen. “He knows that sailing can bring joy into their lives for the rest of their life.” 

Capt. Chris said, “It’s really so much more than teaching them sailing – it’s problem solving, knots, special awareness, giving them the tools to man their own ship. I wish I had this when I was a kid.”

On Facebook, William Fox said his daughter had such a wonderful time with the small class size, new equipment, and top-notch instructors. He said his daughter was “sailing her own boat around the harbor fearlessly. Gaining confidence while dealing with responsibility and adversity.”

This is MYCEF’s inaugural summer sailing camp in Boot Key Harbor, and sessions are already booked solid for the remainer of the summer. However, it plans to continue the instruction again next year, and possibly during the school year, too, with more instruction and racing clubs. 

The end of the summer sailing party will be held Monday, Aug. 8 for the young sailors at Marathon Yacht Club’s pool.

 “Well, If I cry I go around in circles because I’ve let go of the tiller.”     a five-year-old sailor on what she learned at sailing camp

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Kristen Livengood is a Marathon High School and University of South Florida grad, mom of two beautiful little girls, and wife to some cute guy she met in a bar. She enjoys red wine, Tito's, Jameson, running (very, very slowly), and spearfishing.