Sunday, August 19, 2007

Season Ending

I have a few minutes before I need to be in line for the 1:00pm ferry today. Karen and I spent the morning wrapping all the larger sailboats for winter storage. It was the prettiest day of the summer I felt... sunny, cool, with the hint of fall being rapidly on the way. I wanted to eat lunch on the picnic tables over-looking the cove and begin to reflect back on all that I have learned from this first summer at Island Sail. I know I am tired and am looking forward to returning home to see my wife every day and sleep in my own bed every night. I also don't have to think much to know that the most valuable part of the part of the past summer has been the new friends I have made, the wonderful families, and the super kids I have I met, and the opportunity to help people grow a bit more. It really has been a splendid summer at Island Sail.

Saturday the weather slo
wed down our efforts to clean up and shut things down. The rain stayed until almost noon, but Karen and I were able to chip away at cleaning up in the boathouse and by noon an energetic crew arrived to help us with the heaving lifting and scrubbing that needed to be done. We had a wonderful wind to help dry washed sails and many hands to help carry and turn over boats for storage. By 4:00pm we had everything done except wrapping the boats that are stored outside.

I am sad in many ways to see the season come to close. It will seem strange to not welcome a group to the cove this Monday. This next
week, I will be pressed to return to my schools and begin work for another year... teaching of a different sort. I'm looking forward to fall and with it will come a time to reflect and begin to plan for the 2008 Island Sail season. Thanks so much to all that have helped to make this past summer a great season at Island Sail... we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Week Six

Week six, sadly our final week at Island Sail, is off to a brisk start. Monday the weather worked out and we got a full-day in without getting soaked. The morning registration and swim was warm and dry, but a shower blew threw at lunch. By 1:30 in the afternoon the sun was poking out and we had a nice first day of sailing for the afternoon crew. By 4:30 I was watching dark clouds and hearing thunder roll toward the island again.

We have a big group this week... 30 sailors in all. The morning session and afternoon have many new faces and a good mix of sailors with experience from previous weeks or years at Island Sail. Katie and John have returned to help out with instructional duties and Lil and Davis have been coming in the mornings to provide added support for the large group we have in the morning session.

Today it was very breezy in the morning - making the first day on the water for the morning session a challenge, but we got things going and once the group found a consistent path around the Figure 8 course I saw lots of smiles and sailors learning in the challenging winds. The afternoon was brisk, but the winds were not as strong. Both sessions enjoyed a day full of sun and smiles. Several of the boys in the afternoon class spent time with me fixing up the Opti sail rigs. We had made a few repairs along the way this season that did not hold out in the high winds during the morning. They were good helpers and we enjoyed the learning together. All of them de-rigged, rigged, and launched their Optis completely by themselves... asking each other for little bits of help as they went along. It was a good model of how empowerment plays an important role in learning (Karen pointed out that this should happen more often - as an educator I agree.)

On Thursday this week we will be sending out six of our sailors to North Haven for the Kent-Cove Cup. We have been spending extra time working with them on racing skills to prepare. The most important thing they can learn is to appreciate the opportunity and sail with integrity. We hope that they will challenge themselves to improve and feel like winners for giving their best effort - remembering that they represent all sailors in Island Sail and the community of Vinalhaven. Win or lose... we want them to hold their heads high and know that good-sports are always winners.

Friday we have a fun-day activity planned for the afternoon, which all sailors are invited to take part in. This will replace our racing clinic that we normally have on Friday afternoons. That will be the final sailing event for this season. Saturday we are hoping for a good day so that we can get things wrapped up and stored for the off-season... tying up loose ends on Sunday and/or Monday. Anyone that is really good at lifting boats and washing sails is eagerly invited to join us on Saturday :o)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Dogtown Regatta

What a great day and event the Dogtown Regatta ended up being for Island Sail! In the morning we battled high winds and scared sailors - both in the Island Sail harbor and on the way up to Old Harbor. My sincere appreciation goes out to all volunteers and instructional staff for helping to make this a wonderful event... despite a morning where few sailors were smiling. The afternoon was a splendid time and the 1st Annual Dogtown Regatta was a special event for all Island Sail participants. Again, we would like to thank Joe and his wife for being such wonderful hosts and providing the impetus for this event. Coordinating the regatta was a good learning experience for all of us and it was a rewarding opportunity for all Island Sail participants and their families. I think the first time I had a moment to take a breath was when we arrived at the ferry landing park for the BBQ in the evening - looking around seeing all the smiles and the warm communication happening, which seldom occurs when sailors are dropped off and picked up in the parking lot each day.

Ian and Ian took the Cup in the larger-boat race and Peter came from last to capture the Cup in the Opti race. The winds had died down significantly from the morning and skilled sailors and the thrift of the Lasers were the
difference in the races. I felt like everyone ended up being a winner and more importantly the smiles and good-feeling from sailors and their families confirmed a prize-winning day for all. I enjoyed the BBQ most of all and in reflection think that a time to gather families like this should be a weekly part of the program in the future. John was the grill master and Karen and I handled the chore of towing boats where needed. Our instructors went beyond the call to help out and make it a successful day for Island Sail!

Week Five

The fifth week has traditionally been the busiest week of the summer at Island Sail and this year seems to be in line with the past. We had 40+ sailors come to the boathouse on Monday. We lost four of our instructors for the week (Joanna, Katie, John, Anna), making it a chore to distribute participants into the morning and afternoon sessions in a way that would assure our efforts to send all new sailors out with experienced skippers. Our efforts to advance Taylor and Buzz up to Jr. Instructor status last week helped us and both provided new support for our afternoon sessions. They did a great job! Monday, I spent the morning going over chase-boat procedures with them and throughout the week they provided coverage that helped us with the large numbers we had in the program.

It was a mixed bag with the weather this week. We started off with pouring rain on Monday afternoon and then a nice day on Tuesday. Our original plan to have the Dogtown Regatta on Wednesday was shifted to Thursday early in the week... a good choice because Wednesday we sat in the boathouse, watching the rain fall heavy again. It was raining at 3:00 pm on Wednesday and by 4:30 pm the sun was out. I recall going out on the deck at 9:00 pm on Wednesday evening... thinking that I had not seen a sky more brightly lit with stars. At 1:00 am I was wide awake listening to a howling 30+ knot wind, which popped out two of the screens in my house, wondering what the morning would bring.

Thursday started with the strongest winds I have seen on the island this su
mmer. Our original plan was to have the larger sailboats sailed down to Old Harbor for the regatta in the afternoon. Stretched thin with staff, Karen had provided help all week and we divided the group to get the bigger boats out of the harbor and on the way to Old Harbor... It ended up being a challenge for all. The large boats struggled against a blowing head-wind to get down to Old Harbor and the Optis, with inexperienced sailors, were blown down in the inner harbor of Sands Cove. We had some scares, but overall it was a positive learning experience for all of us. The Dogtown Regatta is a new event and the first regatta that Island Sail has hosted for our program participants. Thanks go out to former Commodore, Joe Upton, for suggesting and providing the spark for this special opportunity for all Island Sail participants! Check back for a special report on this inaugural Vinalhaven event.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Week Four

Week 4 was filled with beautiful days and nice sailing conditions. We have a large group of sailors, with many new faces to Island Sail. Looking back on this week it was the best instructional week for our program to this point. After the larger numbers in Week 3 we were able to adapt how we arranged the morning and afternoon sessions to better facilitate all skill levels. I have a sense that instructors are becoming more familiar with my approach as a leader and their own teaching and leadership skills are building with each week.

We had the annual Spaghetti Supper on Wednesday of this week. It is a bi
g event and the help of many volunteers and the Board members made it a great success. We sold out all tickets and many compliments have been made to me about how much people enjoyed the evening. The highlight was the Sailor's Rap that the instructors put together and used to entertain the crowd. I was particularly surprised how Ian performed... usually so quiet, but with the mic. in hand he was "wicky-wicky wicked".

Our afternoon session provided higher winds this week and I spent some time working with our Instructors in Training to graduate some (Taylor, Katie, Buzz and Joanna) up to Jr. Instructor status. They have been with Island Sail for some time and their skills and maturing attitudes are qualities that have enhanced Island Sail. It is our hope that these people will lead our efforts in the future. Seeking more advanced water and safety related certifications in the off-season will be important goals for them to attend to in order to continue the growth of skills that enhance their performance as sailing instructors.