“Creating young, fearless sailors is a very positive thing.” Ruth Olson, MYCEF
The Marathon Yacht Club Educational Foundation has an ambitious plan to start a small sailing school by summer. The first step, though, is instructors. They are looking for about a dozen volunteers, as young as 16, to sign up for the US Sailing Level One Instructors Class to be offered sometime in January. The sailing school would serve children ages 5-18.
“Junior instructors are particularly important,” said Ruth Olson
of the MYCEF. “Kids want to learn from kids, it’s much cooler, you know.”
The 40-hour class costs $350 per student and will be conducted on a long weekend, or possibly spread over two weekends. A state Boater Education Identification Card is a prerequisite. (Classes available online for $15 at floridaboatingcourse.com.)
Olson said the MYCEF sailing instructor positions are paid. Once certified, the instructors will preside over the planned sailing school. Already, Olson and other members are busy collecting boats and seeing to the other planning details
Olson’s plan is to form some type of partnership with the City of Marathon. They would make use of the kayak launch at the Marathon City Marina and park staff could also help coordinate some of the administrative tasks. In fact, interested young sailors are encouraged to fill out the survey on the City of Marathon’s web site. Results will help organizers gauge interest and also determine the club’s needs. Which, first and foremost, are sailing instructors. See paragraph one.
Right now the Marathon Yacht Club Education Foundation has already collected a handful of sailboats including a few sunfish. Plus, it has the necessary safety boats — a couple of inflatables equipped with outboards and a 19-foot hard hull. On order, though, are three Blue Dragons. The boats resemble the traditional Optimist sailing prams, but are made of a durable polyethylene plastic. The boats are self-bailing and feature positive flotation. One of the boats was purchased by Duck Key’s Loa Prout, 91, for purely sentimental reasons.
“When I told my mom about the program we are working on, she was so excited,” said Betsy Lefler who is also a MYCEF member. She said her father ran a similar sailing program on the Chesapeake when she was a little girl. “We still have the drinking glasses in our house that are stained with bottom paint from that era.”
Lefler said her mother’s only stipulation was the boat would be christened the “Loa K.”
The MYCEF is also soliciting the public for additional funds to buy more Blue Dragons. The plan is to have a small fleet to encourage as many young sailors as possible. For more information, call 707-849-0072.