Giving Back to the Sailing Community

Author:
Publish date:
Updated on
Albert and his new boat welcome the crew of Avocation to Prince Rupert’s Bay in Dominica

Albert and his new boat welcome the crew of Avocation to Prince Rupert’s Bay in Dominica

There are many different ways we can give back to communities that are important to us as sailors. For Hank Schmitt of Offshore Passage Opportunities (OPO), it all began as a simple urge to help out a buddy he made soon after he arrived at the island of Dominica in the eastern Caribbean several years ago. Albert, one of the local so-called “boat-boys,” was the very first person he met there.

Hank, who worked on offshore oil rigs and fishing boats before he got into yachts, was concerned about Albert after learning he too spent time fishing offshore in his little skiff during the off-season when the yacht business was slow. He felt Albert’s boat was badly in need of an upgrade, so he dunned the membership of OPO, a crew-placement service he’s been running since the mid-1990s, for small contributions to buy the materials to build Albert a new boat. He made a rather large contribution himself and soon enough Albert had a sturdy new ride.

This rather small effort metastasized into something a bit larger this past year, when Hank decided to help all the boat-boys working Prince Rupert’s Bay off the town of Portsmouth at the north end of Dominica. It can be tough anchoring in the bay, due to the hard grass bottom, and the old mooring field had dwindled away over time, so he tapped his membership for more contributions and raised $26,000 to buy materials for 50 new moorings.

I spent a week with Hank at Dominica this past winter aboard Avocation, a Swan 48 he manages, as he launched what he calls Yachtie Appreciation Week, a cruising rendezvous that celebrates both the yachts that visit the island and the folks on shore who work to service them. The boat-boys in Prince Rupert’s Bay are a bit unusual, in that they have organized themselves into a trade association they call the Portsmouth Association of Yacht Security (PAYS), and this provided Hank with the partners on shore he needed to make both the rendezvous and the new mooring field a reality.

While hanging with Hank aboard Avocation in Prince Rupert’s Bay, I met a few other cruising sailors who are anxious to help people in the eastern Caribbean. Clair and Magoe Menning, a couple from Texas who cruise a Leopard 46 catamaran called Macario, have launched their own non-profit foundation, Macario Advantage (macarioadvantage.org), that organizes small on-the-ground community development initiatives throughout the region. This past winter they focused mostly on Dominica and played an important role in getting the new PAYS moorings in place.

I also met Joan and Greg Conover, who cruise a Morgan Out Island 51 ketch named Growl Tiger. They provided logistical support for Yachtie Appreciation Week and also worked to funnel disaster-relief supplies to Haiti after the terrible earthquake there in 2010. Perhaps not coincidentally, I also caught a quick glimpse of SAIL’s own ex-staffer Tom Linskey on his catamaran Hands Across the Sea, who with his wife, Harriet, has been running an eastern Caribbean literacy-promotion foundation of the same name (handsacrossthesea.net) for several years now.

You needn’t start up your own non-profit to follow in the wakes of sailors like these. Nor do you have to raise money independently like Hank to build boats and install moorings for friends you make ashore. The most important thing really is to simply build relationships.

True enough, boat-boys on certain islands in the Caribbean and throughout the world can sometimes be a royal pain in the butt. But this is the exception rather than the rule. In most places people treat the sailors who come to visit with dignity and respect, and all we really owe them in return is the same sort of respect. The best way to support them is by simply doing business with them. If you have a job that needs doing and someone you like ashore is offering to do it for a reasonable rate, you should take them up on the offer and welcome them into our cruising community. Both sailors and the places we visit will be stronger for it.

SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane, sails his Tanton 39 on the Maine coast and down in the West Indies whenever he gets the chance. He is the author of The Modern Cruising Sailboat, published by International Marine, and is a contributing blogger at SAILfeed.com

May 2016

Related

Pestilence

Sailor-Punk and the State of Cruising

Back when I was a young man, sailing back and forth across the North Atlantic in an old fiberglass sailboat, it seemed fairly obvious to me how all that was wrong in the world might be set right. Everyone should be issued a boat at birth! Or so I declared to any who would listen ...read more

promoOnTheHorizon600x

Cats On The Horizon

Dragonfly 32 Evolution Denmark’s Quorning Boats has been systematically upgrading its line of folding, performance-cruiser trimarans in recent years as part of a long-term effort to incorporate the latest developments in yacht design, with the latest to receive this treatment ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com The double range  Every skipper knows about ranging two objects in line to keep the boat on track in a cross-current. What’s less obvious is monitoring both sides of a gap such as a harbor entrance. ...read more

FamilyCruise

Bareboating on Puget Sound

Depending on where you are, Puget Sound can look no bigger than a mountainous version of the Intracoastal Waterway. That’s what I thought when I first laid eyes on it from the lighthouse at Mukilteo Park on a sunny day last July. Then I went to the top of the iconic Space Needle ...read more

Bali4point1

Boat Review: Bali 4.1

Coming fast on the heels of its predecessor, the Bali 4.0, the Bali 4.1 adds a number of improvements, many of them inspired by feedback from owners and charterers. She’s an evolution of a concept that has already proven popular and very many benefits from its builder’s ...read more

Headsail

Ask Sail: Silencing A Rattling Headsail

Q: Our Pearson 26 has a 110-percent jib that tends to rattle very noisily at the top hank. We only bought the old boat recently, but it must have been happening for a long time, since there’s a deep groove worn inside that bronze hank. The jib has an unusually large and wide ...read more

Alerion2048x

Alerion Yachts 33, the 90 Minute Get Away

Easy to sail, luxurious, and swift; the Alerion 33 is the solution to your busy life. The intuitive, simple rig design, easy set-up, and put-away mean there’s no need to wait for crew to enjoy a weekend, a day, or an hour out sailing. Her beauty and comfort are evident in the ...read more