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Make the most of our waterways: learn to sail this summer!

Author: Nancy Cardillo

Have you ever sat at the Erie Basin Marina and watched enviously as a gleaming sailboat, its sails waving gently in the breeze, glides by as it makes its way to the open waters of the Niagara River and Lake Erie? Have you ever wished you were on that sailboat, enjoying the spectacular view from the water?

Well, here’s your chance.

Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club is once again offering Discover Buffalo Sailing, a four-week Introduction to Sailing program, beginning May 20. No sailing experience is necessary to enroll in the program, so even if you’ve never sailed, don’t know the difference between “port” and “starboard,” or can’t define “heeling” or “keel,” but always wanted to learn more about sailing and enjoy our spectacular waterways, this program is for you!

Here’s how it works: Discover Buffalo Sailing explains basic sailing skills through a structured program of onshore chalk talks and hands-on experience on the water. You’ll start each of the four Saturday sessions (May 20 & 27; June 3 & 10) at the dockside pavilion inside RCR Yachts and Marina on Fuhrmann Boulevard for a 45-minute chalk talk. You’ll learn how the wind and the sails move the vessel through the water, basic boat handling and safety, sailing terms and knots and more.

Then you’ll board your assigned boat (experienced Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club (BHSC) boat owners volunteer their equipment and their time to give participants the best possible experience, with the assistance of mentors and seasoned crewmembers) for a one-and-a-half hour sail, where you’ll put into practice what you’ve learned. Approximately four students will be assigned to each boat, along with two to three crewmembers. In case of poor weather, a dockside lesson will be substituted. There are no make-up sessions.

The May 20th session runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; subsequent sessions run from 8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

You’ll need some gear for the program, including sailing gloves, a life jacket and shoes with grooved, non-marking soles. Warm clothing, sunglasses, baseball cap with jacket clip and waterproof pants are also recommended, but not mandatory. (Your skipper might have a life jacket you can borrow for the class.)

At the end of the four-week course, you can continue your hands-on learning experience through the Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club, or take additional lessons from one of the sailing schools in Buffalo to receive ASA or US Sailing certification. You can also then choose to participate in BHSC’s weekly races and other events for the rest of the summer.

The cost for the Discover Buffalo Sailing program is $60, which includes a one-year membership in the BHSC ($50) and a materials fee ($10). To participate, you must be at least 16 years old (and accompanied by parent if under 18) and agile enough to easily move around a boat in motion.

Interested? Register, and then plan to attend the orientation THIS Thursday, April 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Obersheimer Sailor Supply on Niagara Street. (You can still sign up for the program even if you can’t make the Orientation.)

Need more information? Contact Patrick Weisansal II, BHSC program coordinator, at Ready to sign up? You can do so here.

How will you spend your summer? Four weeks of classes = a lifetime of fun when you sign up for Discover Buffalo Sailing!

Photo credit:  Photo(s) courtesy of Buffalo Harbor Sailing Club

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