Sailing school begins June 15 at Blaine harbor

Published on Thu, Jun 12, 2008 by Jack Kintner

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Sailing school begins June 15 at Blaine harbor

By Jack Kintner

Blaine’s first on-the-water sailing school open to the general public starts this Sunday afternoon, June 15, and according to coordinator Ron Snyder is nearly full. “Just a few openings remain available for the first week of classes,” said Snyder, 62, a retired teacher and life-long sailor.

“At the end of the week you’ll be able to handle these little Clancy boats pretty well,” Snyder said, “and will be a U.S. Sailing certified sailor.” The Community Sailing Program classes are sponsored by Drayton Harbor Maritime.

Five weeks of instruction are planned, each consisting of five four-hour classes that combine on-the-water experience and classroom lecture. Each Monday through Friday class sequence is preceded by a swimming test and capsize recovery in the Lynden YMCA’S pool Sunday afternoons.

The classes will be taught in small and easily managed nine-foot “Clancy” boats designed by Boeing engineer Rich Collins for Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats. Snyder used them for sailing instruction while principal of Seattle’s Alternative School No. 1. The boats were built by students and their parents.

Clancys are cat-rigged, to use a technical term, which means that they have a single sail that is sleeved to slip down over the single mast. The mast itself is sealed and floats, which prevents the boats from going completely upside down should they capsize. “It’s easy to get them back up,” Snyder said, “so before the classes begin all the students will be able to right a capsized boat within five minutes. Students should expect to be safe, have fun and learn some new things.”

Spectators can have a good view of the on-the-water part of the classes from picnic tables just west of Gate Three at the western edge of the Blaine Marina parking area on the south side of Marine Drive.

Harbormaster Pam Taft has set aside an area near an old boat maintenance float called Monkey Island for the sailing classes.
Though the area is reasonably protected, Snyder said that sailing will be suspended if the wind builds over 12 knots.

In addition to Snyder, instructors include Graham Hunter, Dan Steelquist and Brad Bytnar. All four recently completed a U.S. Sailing Association instructor’s certification course that included capsizing and recovering the boats to be used in Bellingham Bay.

The first week, June 16-20, is for adults and costs $85 plus a $20 pool fee. Two sessions for six students each will be offered, one from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and a second from 4 p.m. through 8 p.m.

The second week, June 23-27, is devoted to training Blaine middle school students through the Rocks and Water summer program. The class has room for eight students and instruction will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. There is no charge for Blaine middle school students. They must sign up by the Sunday preceding the program (June 22) as the swim test and capsize recovery training are required before a student begins taking classes.

The program takes a break for the week of June 30, resuming on July 7 with instruction open to Blaine area youth for a reduced fee of $65 plus a pool fee of $13. The last two weeks, July 14-18 and 21-25, will be open to either youth or adults as demand dictates.

“The swim test is not difficult. To make sure that students are at home in the water they’ll be asked to swim 50 yards, which is two laps of the pool, then tread water for two minutes, and finally put on a life jacket that we’ll throw to them.”

For more information contact Snyder at 332-8082 or by e-mail at