Written by NESS SEA AmeriCorps Member Anna “Piper” Crouser
“It was the last week of dinghy sailing and the 6th graders from Bennie Dover Middle School were ready for one last Opti sail before the season was over. We had planned a follow-the-leader style sail out to Junk Island and back to Greens Harbor, and all the 6th graders were able to solo-sail due to the size of the group. Everyone was feeling comfortable on their way out of the harbor, but a few students started to feel uneasy as the wind became shifty and unpredictable.
It was a few students’ first-time solo sailing, and one student was having a particularly challenging time. The shifting wind was presenting a real challenge to her and she was having trouble navigating both the tiller and main sheet. A few other AmeriCorps members and I were on a safety boat, and I called out to her asking if she’d like me to join her on the Opti. She let out an exasperated “Yes!” and I hopped in the boat.
We took a minute in Safety Position for her to catch her breath and took some time talking about how to adjust our sails for where we wanted to aim the boat. She started to relax and we were underway, headed around Junk Island. Her confidence grew with every tack and gybe. The more we sailed, the more at ease she became. By the time that we were back at the docks, she was smiling and laughing at how much fun she was having.”