Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Soaking in the Sun

Here is a picture of our group from the afternoon session this week. They didn't want to stop on the ramp to pose for pictures. As you can see, it was a beautiful day in Vinalhaven today. The wind was nice and steady at 10-12 knots and it was hot. I heard someone in town report a reading of 87 degrees. The afternoon bunch headed over to Old Cove on a longer journey. The morning crew got a real treat - arriving to find the 123' Windjammer - Grace Bailey anchored at the head of cove. Click here to find out more about this 19th century vessel.

I was happy to see Sarah and Marissa both show up this morning! They both ca
me down with something at lunch yesterday and struggled to make it through the afternoon session. I was a bit worried that my suggesting they might need to sail with our large morning group gave them a sour belly. It is easy for me to sit back and think up "better" ways to do things, but we are really lucky to have two mature and thoughtful leaders to implement adjustments. Sometimes being new, it is easy to want to push to make changes - as a way to justify your leadership or to put some of your own identity into a program. I thought a lot about this on my ride home today. This can also endanger the important relationships between the past and the future in the growth of a program. Sarah and Marissa and others that have grown and grown up with Island Sail have already placed a great deal of identity into this program. As the new program director I am lucky to walk into a exceptional sailing program. I hope I can find a way to walk the fine line of growing a program and maturing its capacity and I hope that in time I will have made as much of a contribution as many have made before me. It is my goal to define a path that all those invested in the success of Island Sail strive to work by the simple principles that are at the heart of this program... Safety, Fun, and Continuous Learning.

It was such a beautiful day today! Here are a few pictures to prove it.

Olympic Champion - Kevin Burnham

Island Sail is proud and excited to welcome, Olympic Medal Winner, Kevin Burnham to Vinalhaven. Kevin won the Gold Medal in 2004, a Silver Medal in 1992 and again in 2000, sailing in the fast-paced 470 Class. Kevin's parents are residents of Vinalhaven and we are grateful that all Island residents and Island Sail will be provided with an opportunity to hear Kevin give his motivational presentation at Smith-Hokanson Memorial Auditorium on Thursday evening (July 26th @ 7:30 PM). This is a rare and exceptional chance for people to listen to and meet a person that has shown unsurpassed dedication, character, and sacrifice in the pursuit of excellence. Island Sail is extremely proud to be associated with this event and we anticipate that Kevin's presentation will spark passion in many of the young lives of our sailors and instructors.

On Thursday, we will present Kevin with a lifetime Honorary Instructor Certification to Island Sail - in appreciation of his life-long pursuit of excellence in sailing and his efforts to inspire and educate others. We hope our relationship with Kevin and his family will grow and we are confident his presentation this week will make an impression that will live on in the hearts and minds of our sailors and staff - enriching Island Sail for many years to come.

To learn more about Kevin, click here to visit his web site and
explore! We will be sure to get some photos and report back after the event... make sure to check back! Thanks again to the Burnhams and to Kevin for the enthusiasm and support they have provided to our program. You have helped to make more relevant our efforts to create a sense of achievement through Island Sail.

*Photos by: Daniel Forster -

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Week 3 Underway

I am rushing to get something posted before my Internet connection fades... a strange Island-ism occurs here where I am staying and I usually will get a wireless Internet connection for about 20 minutes each night, but it fades out (sort of like the setting sun). By the way - I would like to post a public Thank You to the Carpenter's for their generosity in providing such a nice place for me to stay during the summer. It is just the right length of bike ride into the boathouse in the morning to get the blood flowing. I'm getting pretty good at balancing my coffee as I go :o)

Included in this post are pictures from Monday's swim test. The water has warmed to the point that I might even be ready to brave a swim by next week. Praise goes out again to the courageous start to Week 3 by our new sailors. Looking back to Week 1 I still think I would have cried if I was put to the water.

We have a large group this week and are faced with our first test of the season to arrange getting all boats and instructional staff on the water together. Today was a success and sailors reported having a good time and left with a sense of achievement. We did shift a few students that would normally be in the morning session to the afternoon session (generally a more advanced group of sailors) in order to make sure that we provided more 1-to-1 instruction with our staff. I wanted to make special mention of one sailor (Corbett) that impressed me in the afternoon. He really picked up on several more advanced skills... capsizing and righting a boat, improving on the Figure 8 drill and making the best landing I have seen this year by anyone in the program. Several of our instructors were quick to give warning as he approached the dock, only to be silenced as Corbett turned skillfully to slide up to the dock.

would also like to say how pleased I am of our instructors for stepping up to the challenge of building in more formal instruction. This is the second year that Island Sail has worked to integrate components of the US Sailing curriculum and I have asked each week (often each day) that adjustments be made to increase the instructional quality of the program, while still maintaining the unique enjoyment that has been a trademark of Island Sail. It must be the years that I have been an athlete and coach - seeking consistent adjustment and adaptation in performances to improve the opportunity for success. Our lead instructors (Sarah and Marissa) have been pressed at times to extend their efforts and leadership and they have kept a positive attitude and outlook that is a benefit to all Island Sail participants. These are traits that all successful teams have displayed by their captains. Our Student Instructors have also shown tremendous growth in their instructional capacity - no one is "riding the pine".

All in all we are off to a great start to Week 3... more fun and learning to come! The weather report is outstanding for the remainder of the week... hot and sunny (maximum SPF warning).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Rain, Rain - Go Away

The rain is holding off today and students have been able to get out on the water for the morning session. We are hoping the weather will hold for the afternoon crews. Yesterday was rainy and foggy and we stayed near the boathouse and went through land-based skill building activities and instruction. It was nice to avoid two days in a row of this approach to learning to sail. The winds are in and out today, but we have seen some of the strongest winds of the season building in during the morning... still not above 15 knots, but better winds to move the boats and challenge student skills.

Oh, a personal report... I went out fishing after yesterday's afternoon session. It was misting when I left the dock and as fog rolled out, heavier rain filled in. The fish liked it and I caught 22 Mackerel and as I was coming into the inner harbor I caught a small Halibut (I think that is what it was). It was about the same length as a Mackerel, but brown and tan with a distinct line running down its side... it was fatter than a Mackerel. I didn't keep any of these fish, but hope to when my wife the Chef returns with me next week. It was a lot of fun. I am hoping to snag my fishing buddy, Everett, to give it a try again this evening if the weather holds.

I am posting a map of the area that I found on a post card at the Paper Store in
town. It doesn't have much detail in terms of Vinalhaven, but is a nice view of the Penobscot Bay area. If you would like to see some nice maps of Vinalhaven, click here. I believe these are maps and GIS information developed in association with the Land Trust. Also, a nice woman rode up on her bike Wednesday morning before the Land Trust was open and asked about maps of trails on the Island... I didn't have much information for her, but I did find this link and thought it might be useful to others - Maine Island Trail Association.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Week 2

We are off to a good start with week two of Island Sail. Monday's swim test was fun and filled with a sense of accomplishment for new students. The water has warmed up considerably since last week's swim test. The bright sun and warm temperatures helped with smiles as people crawled out of the water. Our morning class has eight students, with a few new faces to Island Sail (Jesse, Simon, Nicheala, Dash, Cristian, Corbett, Max, & Gideon). They are an energetic group.

This will be the first day on the water for our morning group. Today's morning session
is a time for introductions... to each other and to basic sailing terminology and parts of the sailboat. The group also had a blast playing a couple rounds of Sharks and Fishes while waiting for the rolling-fog to burn off. We will soon see who was listening to the Right-of-Way rules as the group heads to sea ;o)

Our group of more experienced sailors, which have been checked off on their Mate and Crew cards, started on Monday afternoon. We have six sailors in this group (Everett, Karli, Alina, Isabelle, Frank, Kelby). They spent the first part of the session reviewing sailing concepts and Island Sail procedures and then took to the water to start sailing. In the last part of the session the group worked on capsizing & righting their boat and overboard recoveries. It was hot in the afternoon and the dunks in the water were welcomed by all.

We are expecting a possibility of showers on Wednesday and Thursday, but each day the weather report has held out some hope that we may be missed by weather that will keep learners off the water. We have learning activities lined up if we need to make an adjustment and have a "dry-land" training session. It is beautiful out today... so I am off to get some pictures and help out with instruction on the water.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our first week at Island Sail has been wonderful! We have missed having Marissa here for most of the week and look forward to her return and leadership next week. Sarah has done a great job of leading solo and I am very pleased to see leadership and more mature instructors emerging from our Instructors in Training team. Our students have been a great group to work with in Week 1... they have laughed and learn more about sailing. I was very impressed with their existing skills and knowledge and each showed a strong desire to learn more and grow as sailors. (I wanted to give a special thank you to Everett for taking me out and showing me his fishing hot spot - we caught a mess O' fish :o) Thanks also, to all the Island Sail Board members and others that have worked hard to get things ready and launch Island Sail 2007! Below are some pictures from the week (click on the pictures to view larger images):

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sailing Begins

We are up and sailing! After a chilly swim test for a few brave first-year sailors and registration on Monday, on Tuesday the weather held and we had a light breeze (0-5 kn) from the South building for sailors to get on the water. The instructors did a nice job of getting things moving and lots of smiles filled the morning. Safety, fun, and learning... just like advertised.! We had eight participants sign up for the first week and will be running sessions in the morning for the group this week.

On the water students reviewed and practiced the following skills and information: Safety & Guidelines, Basic Parts of a Sailboat, Boarding & Positioning, Rigging & De-rigging, Steering (Rudder-Tiller), Safety Position, Starts & Stops, Tacking & Jibing (Beam Reach - Figure 8 Drill). These will be skills we continue to work on throughout the week as we introduce additional skills and information each day to build sailor's water experience through the Step-Program curriculum. Our curriculum is derived from US Sailing instructional guidelines - click here to learn more about the framework for Island Sail instruction.

We would love to h
ave students & their parents comment on the blog... to give us feedback about what they really enjoy or what they hope we will do more of or do better. Click here for directions on leaving comments. We are hoping that you will share your thoughts and ideas - "Share in our growth."

SPOTLIGHT: More news to com
e, but we had someone from the Island stop in Tuesday afternoon and offer to make a a generous offer to donate a 19' sailboat. This is exciting news and will provide us with additional opportunities for Island Sail participants.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Independence Day

This is a picture, off the back of the ferry, looking back on Rockland Harbor. Sitting the the parking lot of the Vinalhaven library, making an entry in the blog, with the fog rolling right in front of me is not making me miss home much. We have been provided with a wonderful place to stay. The view and accommodations are picture perfect... thanks so much to the Carpenter's for making it possible! We are enjoying the company of their dog.

We arrived at the island at 2:15 pm on July 4th. Karen greeted us and helped transport us to the Carpenter's house. We settled in and took a short bike ride into town before head
ing over to the Cochran's for the evening. It was nice to meet and talk with a few more people involved with Island Sail and the discussion was very helpful. Jon's & his wife Dianne get high-marks as hosts... it was 4-star 4th of July. Buzz Cochran (Island Sail Instructors - Staff Member) was the pyrotechnics engineer for the evening - providing the spark for a wonderful fireworks display... actually we all held sparklers on the porch to close the evening out. I have video, but posting it seemed like providing evidence in some way :o)

We have just finished our second meeting with instructors (Marissa, Sarah, Taylor, and Buzz). We met Thursday morning at the boathouse. It seemed like a good meeting to me. I was impressed with communication from leaders and sense their appreciation of responsibilities and knowledge of the many day-to-day operational tasks of Island Sail. I tried to communicate that I was also interested in the development of Island Sail in ways that extend out beyond those day-to-day tasks. I didn't want the first meeting to be about what I want to see... evolving Island Sail is work I want us to do together. I will say again to instructors... I hope that this season will be a s
ummer full of challenges and learning for everyone - with a sincere effort being made to leave Island Sail a better program than it was when we started. We met again this morning for breakfast and I am confident that Island Sail will sustain growth and enhancement under our leadership this season. Taylor said she wasn't involved in sports at school, but by the end of this summer I hope that she and others feel like this was a team experience. I will be coaching :o)

After breakfast (Surf Side - yum for breakfast!) we headed up to the boathouse and moved a few of the 420*s out in front... ready for launch. One was wicked heavy... having filled up somehow while upside down (Karen, feel free to comment :o) The docks still have not been set. Karen is planning guide them in this afternoon and get one of the chase-boats in the water (Thanks to Lance for his help!). We put one of the motors on the skiff that will be launched (... wondering what the big blue X is on one of the motors - Deb, feel free to comment :o). We also dug out the Opti bladders. Sunday we have planned to have instructors come at 4:30 pm and would welcome anyone around to come down to the boathouse and help out. We will be launching boats and start to rig boats. Monday we will finish getting things in place. If anyone has a grill on the island... we could plan to have a cookout or sandwiches at the docks for dinner on Sunday. The forecast is for clouds, but not rain on Sunday and early forecasting for the 1st week looks pretty good. I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Island Sail Productions

I took some time this evening to create a set of graphics that I can use to create our own Island Sail diagrams. These will be useful for creating our own curriculum & instructional resources. It takes a bit of work to shift the position of all those little sails :o)

The nice thing about creating graphic sets is that it saves times when you need to create other diagrams. I'm working toward being able to use the graphic sets to create Flash animations. This will provide additional visual understanding of a wide range of sailing skills and maneuvers.

Click on the image above to see the full size graphic.

... I finished the first Flash animation - see Tacking Upwind.

Hitting the Links

I hope everyone is having a nice sunny day! Today, I am going to include several links here for people to check out. I am working on the "Instruction" section of the new Island Sail web site. You will soon find these links embedded into the "Curriculum" page. Also, Instructors should check out the "Instructors" page... already linked in the "Instruction" pop-up menu. Be thinking about your one paragraph Bio... I will get pictures soon!

Click here to go to the active-draft of the new Island Sail web site.

Island Sail - Online Learning Resources:

US Sailing - Online Education: We will use information from this site in a variety of ways. Instructors should become familiar with this web resource and use it to help plan how they will approach instructional topics and skills. This web site has several instructional videos, but be sure to check out the link to the
Online Small Boat Sailing Course. This is a great site, one of the best boating sites for kids and young adults that I have found online. It has a wide range of resources and links to information that are in line with skills and knowledge that we hope to cover with Island Sail participants. It is also a great place for Instructors to find interesting ideas for rainy-day activities or to enrich their daily instructional plans.

Boating Safety Sidekicks: This is a wonderful, interactive web site that helps teach boating safety to kids. It is something I highly recommend that use as a rain-day activity resource.

Animated Knots: This site has a great set of animations that show a variety of different knots, categorized by common use (ex. boating, climbing, scouting...).

Online Sailing Manual: This web site has a wide-range of useful resources that can be used to enhance sailing instruction for Island Sail participants. Instructors should draw from these resources for their own instructional plans.

Basic Sailing: This is a very nice site, filled with information that would be "just right" for Island Sail participants. It is well crafted... probably because it was done by a library-media specialist.

Sailing at Wellesley College: Another academic site that has some outstanding instructional information for sailing.

Beginning Sailing - University of Hawaii: This is yet another valuable basic sailing instruction page.

ASA Basic Sailing Instruction: The American Sailing Association (ASA) also provides instructional guidelines for a variety of sailing certifications. This page provides a very nice outline of skills and understanding that relate to Basic Small Boat Sailing. The US Sailing curriculum we will be using has many of these same standards.

Marine Waypoints: This link provides a table showing the different nautical flags and meanings. You can use the nautical flag translator to spell your name or take a quiz to test your knowledge of the flags.

You Tube - Sailing Instruction Videos: Parents should check out these resource and understand that You Tube contains content which would not be appropriate for most of our students. It would be a good chance to have a conversation with your child about appropriate use and online safety. The link I have provided here was organized by searching for "Sailing Instruction". You Tube allows members to post edit and post videos (free & easy)... something we can try to do ourselves this summer! Maybe we have an aspiring director(s) and actors in the program?

Expert Village - Sailing Instruction Videos
: Like YouTube, this site has videos or video clips that can be posted by anyone with an Internet connection... but they generally are filtered to only include "expert" advice on how-to do something useful. I haven't used this resource much, but it has a variety of useful clips that provide basic sailing instruction.

Commander Bob's Boating Safety Notebook: This is a great site... especially if you are in a position to be teacher others about nautical safety.

That seems like more than enough for now. I will think about and work with Instructors this summer to align these better with the Island Sail curriculum as we refine it over the summer.