By Stefanie Donahue
Developing the skills to master the art of boating may seem like a daunting task to some, but the folks at Bellingham Sail and Power Squadron (BSPS) are ready to help aspiring marine enthusiasts take on the challenge during an all-day event in Blaine this month.
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 13, the public is invited to stop by the SeaSkills Marine Expo at locations along Marine Drive. Up until 5 p.m., guests will have the opportunity to take part in training exercises, view demonstrations, peruse vendor exhibitions and more.
Since the early 1900s, U.S. Power Squadrons (USPS) has maintained a fervent dedication to boater safety and education. The local chapter was chartered in 1959 and continues to educate boaters by offering classes and seminars at Bellingham Technical College and local events.
The SeaSkills Marine Expo won’t be the first event BSPS has hosted in Blaine. For about a decade, members have hosted annual training and educational seminars, including their hallmark marine distress flare training, which teaches boaters how to properly light and dispose of a flare.
This year, they’ve opted to make the event a bit more approachable for all ages and interests.
“The earlier version of SeaSkills North has morphed into a grander 2017 expo,” explained event organizers during the initial planning stages. “It will be a day of dockside classes as before, plus marine-related vendors, exhibitors, food trucks and activities.”
This year, BSPS is partnering with the Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons to host the event. Sponsors include the Port of Bellingham, the city of Blaine, the Blaine Chamber of Commerce, Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District 2, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue and the Community Boating Center, said BSPS organizers Alex Mazurkewycz and Graham Hunter.
Beginning at 10 a.m., guests will have the chance to take part in marine distress flare and fire extinguisher training at Blaine Marine Park, where skilled professionals will demonstrate how to release different types of flares and explain what to do when they expire. After all, “you can’t just throw them in the garbage,” Mazurkewycz said.
Starting at 1 p.m. and through the evening, boating experts will offer free one-hour seminars at gate two on topics including heavy weather sailing, anchoring, marina maneuvers, marina pump-out training, vessel safety checks, paddle boarding, boat handling, methods of purchasing a boat and how to recover an individual who’s fallen overboard.
This year, the historic Plover ferry will be out on the water making trips between Semiahmoo Bay and Drayton Harbor. Stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, sailboats, powerboats and more will be on display during the event. Food trucks, vendors and other exhibits will be on display to entertain the crowd at the parking lot near gate two.
“Visitors will be able to get up close and look at many boats both inside and out, talk with owners and experts and attend workshops on various aspects of boating,” read a statement from BSPS. “Children will love the Blaine Marine Park playground, so bring the whole family and have a fun day at the harbor.”
For more information, visit boatingisfun.org or call 360/332-6484.