Northwest Parks and Recreation to help fund sailing school

Published on Thu, Apr 2, 2009 by Marisa Willis

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It’s full sails ahead for a new salt water recreation program at Drayton Harbor. Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 and Drayton Harbor Maritime are co-sponsoring a community sailing school to begin in early June.

The program was made possible through a donation of more than $8,000 from parks and recreation to organize, operate and provide for the sailing school. District and harbor officials said its development has been in the works for some time.

“Drayton Harbor has been lacking in salt water recreation,” said Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 (NWPRD2) commissioner Richard Sturgill. “This partnership and this community effort are enabling this to happen.”

Sturgill said the school received donations from community banks, Semiahmoo Yacht Club, Blaine Harbor Marina, West Marine Express, Blaine Marine Services and numerous other local organizations to help fund the sailing program.

“It’s a real community effort. It’s something that’s been long overdue and everyone seems glad to help out,” Sturgill said.

Sailing instruction will be led by experienced sailor Ron Snyder, a Drayton Harbor Maritime (DHM) board member. Following the success of previous DHM sailing programs, Snyder said NWPRD2 decided to join forces to provide the valuable activity for the community.

The school will begin Sunday, June 7 with a swim test at Lynden YMCA pool and Graham Hunter, DHM board member, will be the other lead instructor for the program. Snyder said the swim test was implemented to ensure participants remain calm if a boat capsizes. Students can expect to learn basic safety tips, how to sail to and from the docks and how to navigate the Drayton Harbor waters.

Snyder said he hopes participants gain not only sailing skills, but a connection to the water and the environment we live in.

“We’re passing on to Blaine what we love,” Snyder said. “Sailing is one of those recreations that causes no harm. You’re just using the water, a boat and the air.”

The school is open to all ages and Snyder said there is still plenty of time to sign up. Those interested should check out the district’s Web site, where registration is also available. The cost of the week-long classes is $75 per person. Morning and evening classes are offered and youth scholarships are also available for those who qualify.

“A student in your class can be anywhere from age 11 to 111,” Snyder said. “We found that mixing the youth and the adults, whether they’re seniors or young adults, doesn’t matter. If anything it adds a real interesting dynamic to the teaching.”

Snyder said the establishment of the sailing school is just the first step among many toward the development of a Drayton Harbor Maritime center. The future facility would provide sailing lessons, boat and kayak rentals and tours.

“Blaine is a waterfront community with a long history of fishing and sailing,” Sturgill said. “Drayton Harbor, and the surrounding areas, is an untapped resource for saltwater recreation. We want to utilize this incredible opportunity.”

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