Posted by: theensign | 30 December 2008

Shared sailing and cruising

The reason people join, participate in and stay with USPS is less for their love of USPS than for their love of boating.

Actually getting people on the water where they can use their skills, put classroom learning to practical use, share fellowship with people of like interests and background, cruise other areas normally not accessible, and tap into the vast knowledge base within USPS should be one of our primary objectives. A resource that creates and increases boating opportunities and broadens boating horizons would be both a great membership draw and a great tool for retention. I would like to start such a program and encourage others, either individually or as a squadron program, to do likewise.

The viability of this approach is evident by the vast number of charter companies as well as clubs that charge huge annual fees for just the chance that a subscriber can get on the water. While squadrons offer some boating opportunities through predicted log contests, etc., they are limited in scope, frequency and diversity. Also, not all squadrons are created equal. While some are active enough to have nearly monthly cruises, others go years without a cruise or other water-based activities. Enabling members and students to crew regularly with more experienced skippers on cruises, deliveries, races or just weekend outings is beyond the ability of an individual squadron.

Internet sites provide crewing opportunities, but finding crewing or cruising opportunities through USPS would have several advantages. USPS educational grades (S, P, AP, JN, N, SN) instantly tell you what level of formal training a skipper has. The quality of our courses ensures that the skipper’s level of knowledge is also beyond that likely to be found in the general boating population, even among many commercial schools. USPS membership also means the people you sail with are known in their boating communities, minimizing the chances of finding yourself on a boat with someone of questionable character. Though, even here, if you don’t personally know someone, you should ask for a boating resume and references.

Finding cruising opportunities with fellow USPS members benefits both the skipper and crew. For whatever reasons, skippers often find themselves sailing alone, and everyone knows that boating is best enjoyed when shared with others. Likewise, members often find themselves without a boat. Unable to enjoy their passion on the water, their loss as a USPS member is usually just a question of time. Also, similar opportunities outside of USPS are costly, often running thousands of dollars, while sailing with fellow members should at most be on a shared-cost basis.

Having retired as a sea captain, I plan to get back to the water for recreational cruising. In the spring, Thistle, our 25-ft Dufour sloop, will be trailered to the Chesapeake Bay where I will sail a month on, a month off. I taught sailing for 29 years, so members wanting to learn to sail or who just have the opportunity to cruise the bay region would be welcome to join me for a week to a month at a time. Anyone interested in further discussion or a resume can contact me.

P/C James R. Neal, SN
Blue Hen Power Squadron

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