Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sven Holch recounts the first Sea Of Opportunities program from summer 2013

"Connor, we have you and Wallace Boatworks to thank for literally keeping the surfboat program afloat!  While your job has been fixing it up, my job was to break it! (ahem, I mean USE it). I fulfilled my duties on the very first day by wrenching the bronze rudder track right off the stern and watching it's green, curved, 2 foot form sink 12 feet down into a bed of seaweed. Guess what an old, curved, green piece of skinny bronze looks just like? Yup, you got it, seaweed. At low tide that very afternoon in only 8 feet of water, after an hour of diving on a needle in a haystack with assistant surfboat instructor/local sailor/accomplished rower, Matias Sejersen, we emerged victorious and within 24 hours, Connor had that piece of bronze affixed to stern for at least the next 100 years, thanks Connor! 

It did not, however, deter for one second, an energetic group of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from making the most of everything the surfboat had to offer. In just two weeks, this dedicated crew learned how to rig it, sail it, row it, keep it shipshape and put it away every afternoon. Some highlights included a visit to the Lifesaving & Shipwreck Museum, sewing their own ditty bags on a rainy day, rowing against the current through the cut in the jetties(then later riding it back through like a very large canoe on rapids), sailing against the current up to the inside of Coatue, racing the outgoing tide to emerge "ungrounded" from our favorite swimming hole, lots of swimming and diving at the end of each day. 

Our Sea of Opportunities took many forms, and we were fortunate to meet with local resources around the harbor, from Chuck Gifford taking us on an informative row in the whaleboat, to the Coatue Ranger teaching us tracking skills and bird identification, to the Coast Guard touring us throughout their "surfboats(s)." And finally, we were treated to a "gam" with local waterman, Alfie Sanford, who invited us to sail alongside his beautiful, wooden yawl, Starry Night. We had the distinct honor to not only get a tour of the elegant vessel that he designed himself, but the green crew were then given the rare opportunity to take her out for a sail! That really capped off an extraordinary two weeks of the inaugural year of the program. What impressed me the most about these kids was how they looked forward to it every day, and how well they took care of the boat and each other while having a lot of fun. I sincerely hope that we continue to see the surfboat plying the waters of Nantucket with an enthusiastic  crew aboard."

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