SailMV connects young Islanders with maritime past
At its annual recognition dinner, held this year on April 6 at the Edgartown Yacht Club, Sail Martha's Vineyard (SailMV) honored the many volunteers whose work celebrates and protects the Island's maritime heritage, and even more important, passes it down to the next generation of Vineyarders. Hosted by the board of directors, the dinner "thanks all the wonderful people who make SailMV possible. It's a feel-good party to kick off the new season," board member Peter McChesney explained. About 70 volunteers were honored.
Although the dinner honors all volunteers, Edie Radley and Nancy Blair Vietor were singled out for their long service, encouragement, and support of the mission of SailMV.
Ms. Radley worked closely with Nancy Haskell, a SailMV founder, from 1992 until Ms. Haskell's death in 1998, and has been instrumental in carrying on Ms. Haskell's vision of free maritime programs for Island children. Mr. McChesney described her as "always there for us, keeping Nancy Haskell's spirit alive."
Honorees Nancy Vietor and Edie Radley with Sail MV President Peggy Schwier. Photo courtesy of Sail MV
Ms. Vietor, also a supporter of SailMV since the beginning, has served as after-school sailing instructor and as race coach for the MVRHS sailing team. She has been important in the success of SailMV's annual Seafood Buffet and Auction, according to Mr. McChesney.
New MVRHS sailing coach Andrew Burr brought along 15 high school sailors to help honor Ms. Vietor, Ms. Radley, and the other volunteers. SailMV provides the boats and most of the financial support for the high school competitive racing team.
SailMV, a non-profit organization, offers free programs for Island children. It has taught more than 1,000 children, helped produce a successful high school varsity sailing team, and the organization offers an expanded mission of maritime education, rowing, and sailing to young and old, seasonal and year-round residents. Beginning this week, children of seasonal residents may register for SailMV's summer program, where space is available. There is a fee for seasonal children.
SailMV board president Peggy Schwier told The Times this week, "We're better serving our mission than we ever have." She and administrative director Hope Callen pointed to several new programs.
Although SailMV programs in past years have started at about age 10, a new program for 8- and 9-year-olds has already attracted so many registrants that four sessions will be offered, two in July and two in August. Taught by master mariner Gretchen Snyder, "Messing Around in Boats" will expose youngsters to swimming, rowing, sailing, boarding, coastal ecology, and other aspects of the Island's maritime heritage. Ms. Snyder, a sailmaker as well as a sailor, is well known on the Vineyard waterfront.
Last year SailMV merged with Vineyard Voyagers, and this summer Introduction to Voyaging will introduce children 12 to 18 to the open sailing/ rowing vessel Mabel and the basics of seamanship needed to sail her on an extended voyage in local waters. No previous experience is required.
Other new programs in the planning stages include an adult sailing class and a course in boatbuilding and repair, as well as short workshops, films, slide shows, and other one-day programs through the year on topics as varied as diesel engine maintenance and extreme windsurfing. "Get your Feet Wet on Dry Land," a three-evening introduction to sailing, will be offered April 23 and 30 and May 7.
As in other years, SailMV will continue to offer beginning and intermediate/advanced sailing programs for smaller and younger children in Optimus prams, and introductory and intermediate programs for larger and older children, using 420s, the one-design commonly used in intercollegiate sailing competitions. All the sailing programs offer the opportunity for young sailors to get involved in racing, but none requires it.
More information about SailMV programs, including fees for adults and seasonal children, can be found on the SailMV web site (http://www.sailmv.com), or call SailMV at 508-696-7644.