This past Friday, I was invited to check out an inspirational sailing program hosted by Sail Buffalo, located at 2 Fuhrmann Boulevard at the Outer Harbor (home to Cazenovia Community Boating Center). Director Pierre Wallinder asked me to come meet 40 young students from the Buffalo City Mission, who were invited on a field trip to learn to sail at the harbor.
I never pass up an opportunity to join Pierre at his sailing school, because every time I visit, I always come across something new and different. In this particular outing, I was not allowed to take images, of the young students, but I can say that they all had an absolutely amazing morning, interacting with the waterfront, and learning to sail. The Buffalo City Mission is just one of a number of non-profits that has teamed up with Sail Buffalo to get people sailing who would otherwise not have an opportunity to do so. According to Pierre, it’s one of the elemental building blocks of the sailing school.
Later in the afternoon, regular scheduled programming ensued, with Sail Buffalo’s youth sailing program (see photos). I couldn’t get enough of watching these tiny tykes masterfully navigating the channel (where the Buffalo River meets the mouth of Lake Erie, and the Niagara River). The little champs were cruising back and forth, from the Sail Buffalo docks to the Erie Basin Marina, and back. These wee sailors could barely see over the sides of the boat – it was a wonder that they could navigate, but they did so with the confidence of salty sailors, thanks to the instructions of Al Wallinder (Pierre’s daughter).
After watching the kids zip about the harbor for a while, and being equally impressed that they could effortlessly right the boats after capsizing, I decided to take a walk around the Sail Buffalo compound.
I came across the beautiful line-up of Swedish-design “Fishing Huts”, each denoted by a wooden sign over the door – sail loft, surf shop, arts & crafts (with running water), trading post, ship’s library, and sawmill.
The Grassroots Gardens raised garden beds appeared to be flourishing. This is where students learn about healthy eating habits, such as growing organic food. Across the way from the raised garden beds, I noticed that a temporary tented shelter had been set up, so I wandered over to see what was inside. To my surprise, I found the historic racing sloop, the Clara Brown, which is in the process of being restored. It will take three years to get the 62 year old, 34 foot wooden sloop back into pristine shape, upon which time she will take to the waters on Lake Erie once again.
If you’re ever in need of some aquatic inspiration, head out to walk the grounds of Sail Buffalo. The compound is always buzzing with activity, from indoor sailing instruction, to waterfront classroom activities, Pierre and Al are constantly coming up with new ways to make the Buffalo waterfront an active and informative place to visit. Don’t be shy – there’s a wide range of programming for all ages and abilities. Be sure to check out their website to learn about the myriad opportunities at hand.
Sail Buffalo Sailing School
2 Fuhrman Blvd | Buffalo NY 14203 | 716-432-6589
Click here to learn about the sailing opportunities at Sail Buffalo