MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
KANEOHE BAY — Eight years old and she already has the freedom of the open sea. She can man the sail and rig the boat. She may only stand four feet tall, but she can right her capsized boat. Where did she get such independence? The base marina’s summer sailing class.
The base marina is offering a twoweek summer sailing class for children ages 8 to 17. The class costs $180 but pays for the use of the sailboat and all the equipment. Any child is welcome to join the class as long as they have a military-affiliated sponsor. The classes are weekdays 9 a.m. to noon.
“The classes run through August,” said Zofia Soltys, a sailing instructor. “There are five classes available throughout the summer. To sign up, parents need to call the marina to reserve a spot.”
The course involves daily sit-down classes, hands on boat set-up and time on the water. The children are taught the basics of how a sailboat works and are given the opportunity to rig their boats every morning and set sail. Each child is given a partner until the teacher thinks they are strong enough to sail the boats alone.
The children are given the opportunity to sail out into the bay to a small dock in the middle of the water. There, they are given the opportunity to jump off the dock and practice capsizing the boats and righting them.
“This is a great way to have fun and learn a skill,” Soltys said. “And it’s safe. We are all CPR certified. It is a great way to teach the children how to avoid obstacles and think on their feet in a safe environment.”
Besides sailing, children are also given the opportunity to visit the sand bar to snorkel and go tubing on Fridays or when they have extra time at the end of class.
“At the end of the course the students are given the chance to earn their skipper license,” Soltys said.
“They have to know how to rig and de-rig the boat, sail it and recover from capsizing. No matter what (their) skill level, they will earn either their skipper license, a skipper with crew license or a crew license.”
The skipper license gives the child access to renting small sailboats and the ability to sail solo. The skipper with a crew license allows them to sail but as long as they have a crew member with them. The crew license only allows the child to be a crew member on a sailboat.
“The course is very empowering and makes them more responsible,” Soltys said. “It helps them work better in groups and makes them more independent. They become more resourceful and learn how to fix problems on the spot.”
For more information on available classes, call the marina at 254-7666.