The Sausalito sun at 10AM reflects off the ripples of Richardson Bay. Our schooner, Seaward, bobs as students walk on board.
Can you remember your first time on a boat? For many students, this is it. 39 life-vested students crowd around the port side as the captain leans on the main boom. “All hands!” the students yell back as the captain gets their attention. “One hand for the boat, and one for yourself!” Students listen attentively to safety procedures, agree to sail accordingly, and sit down on the teak wooden deck. The boat goes from a steady rock to a motored sway and makes its way to the epicenter of our estuary. Seaward purred through the deep channel where the Sacramento River flows into the salty Pacific Ocean. The brackish water we looked at from land was under our feet. Whether it’s a cormorant drying its waterlogged feathers or a seal making an appearance, nature is putting on its usual show, and we all get to bear witness just by being there.
“What do you notice about the chart?” Students point to unique features: compass roses, cardinal directions, the numbers on the water. “What do we already know about navigation?” Sam, a crew member and educator, asks a small group of students hovering over a chart of San Francisco Bay. Students share their background knowledge with compasses and maps. We apply the same principles with landmarks to pinpoint our location in the Bay. It takes a coordinated team to take bearings at the same time. “We can take bearings when we’re near land, but what if we’re not? What do we use?” Students sit quietly and recall what they talked about in class before their sail: stars, horizon, sextants. “We also use ‘dead reckoning’!”
Yes, there is plankton, a benthograb, and hydrometer. Sails were set by students who, an hour ago, never set foot on a boat before. Here they are, heaving a mainsail. “Raising Mains’l Halyard!” they shout before a team of 13 students coordinate themselves to lift a heavy load. All while appreciating the physics of buoyancy and the balance of the food web, we take five minutes to sit with the engine off and nothing but the wind in the sails and the fog horns beyond the Golden Gate to tickle our eardrums. What do you notice?
Just imagine enjoying a few hours away from your phone. Feeling cold wind and warm sun while docking again at the Bay Model. You have your friends at your side and adventures behind you.
“So, have you been on a boat before?” I ask a group of students
“No,” one student said while others shook their heads.
“What stood out for you from this trip?” I ask.
The student who spoke took a moment to ponder. “I could never live without internet!”
Whether it’s an appreciation for life at sea or the life we have a home, an education sail with Seaward is sure to bring you perspective.
Generous youth scholarship funding provided by the St. Francis Sailing Foundation