Pierre Wallinder continues to amaze me. Last week, I was touring a friend around town by bike. We hopped on the bike ferry at Canalside and headed to the Outer Harbor. After exiting the ramp, we walked over to the Sail Buffalo Sailing School compound, which really is a compound these days. We found Pierre sitting on one of his sailboats, in-between sailing classes. I asked him if he would give us a quick tour of the place, and he happily complied.
If you’re not familiar with Pierre, here’s some helpful background. If you are familiar with this nautical enthusiast, then you know that he is as determined as the day is long. For years, Pierre has been building a well-rounded sailing complex at the Outer Harbor, near the Buffalo lighthouse. Not only did he build a floating eco-classroom using hundreds of plastic bottles, he also built a year round Sailing and Science Pavilion, with solar panels overhead and heated floors below.
The last time that I posted on Pierre, he was in the midst of outfitting six Swedish-design “fishing huts”. Each of the huts was built to be used for a different activity… sail loft, surf shop, arts & crafts (with running water – see inset), trading post, ship’s library, and a sawmill. “All things needed for a successful sea voyage,” says Pierre. “We are very grateful for the support of Erie County Greenway Fund and Margaret L Wendt Foundation for making all of this possible!”
Today, two of the fishing huts have been “mostly” completed, and the others will soon be underway. The sail loft is full of sail repair items and materials at the moment – Pierre is awaiting the arrival of an industrial sewing machine.
Once complete, the sail loft will be a place where people can learn how to stitch and mend sails, which is very handy on a blustery lake such as Lake Erie. The ship’s library is also almost complete. Not only is the library heated, it is also loaded with books, magazines, papers, nautical maps, and numerous other periodicals.
My visiting friend was blow away by what she saw at Sail Buffalo. From the Cousin “Cuzen” Kelly carved tree sculptures to the Grassroots Gardens raised garden beds, the sailing school is an inspirational learning center where life lessons come together on land and water. There’s even a habitat restoration program underway.
The students at Sail Buffalo have access to a volleyball court when they are feeling active, a fleet of Sailfish when they want to test their sailing skills solo or as a team, or they can take a load off by sitting on one of the numerous colorfully painted Adirondack chairs. Sail Buffalo looks more like an “away camp” than it does a local sailing school.
Sail Buffalo offers Learn to Sail classes (ASA Certification Program), American Sailing Association courses, Junior Sailing Camp, and Corporate Team Building. People can also become a member of the Sail Buffalo community. The club fleet consists of two Pearson 26, four Hinterhoeller – HR-25, a Paceship 32, and the historic Clara Brown (a 62 year old, 34 foot wooden sloop). All of the aforementioned amenities are available to those who decide to take part in any of the Sailing Buffalo programs.
Not only is Sail Buffalo in full swing when the weather is nice, the campus is operational year round. So don’t be surprised to come across Pierre mapping out his next “fishing hut” in the middle of winter, chilling out in the radiant heated Sailing and Science Pavilion or the eco-heated Interpretative Center, along with a couple of diehard waterfront enthusiasts. That’s just the way that he rolls.
2 Fuhrman Blvd
Buffalo NY 14203