Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vandals attack community sailing program

It is hard to think of too many sports that are as equipment intensive as sailing. Then there is the issue of access to the sport, and the risks of participating. The reality is the list of sports that require the level of education needed to participate as sailing does is short. Really short.

What is the solution to opening the doors of sailing to more people? Some yacht clubs have programs, but they typically are available for only those people who have made the typically significant financial investment in club membership. And then there is Community Sailing Organizations.

One such sailing organization is Sail Martha’s Vineyard (Mass.), which was established in 1992 to offer programs for Island children in elementary sailing, seamanship and wooden boat building, and to attract historic vessels to the community. From modest beginnings, Sail MV has grown into an organization that has taught more than 2,000 children, produced a successful high school sailing team, and now offers an extensive range of programs in maritime education, rowing and sailing for young and old, seasonal and year-round residents.

However, Sail MV has recently suffered unusual and costly vandalism to its equipment, boats, and facility, estimated to be more than $9,000 in damages. The remote location of the facility combined with a limited police force has opened the door for what is believed to be the work of malicious teenagers. While Sail MV is fully insured, they are concerned that if claims are filed, the nonprofit organization's premium costs will rise. The board of directors must decide soon whether to file insurance claims.

The program recently invested in surveillance cameras and motion detection lighting to deter vandals, but the damage done has limited the ability of Sail MV to serve its patrons. “We're maxed out, we've got waiting lists for everything, said Director Brock Callen. “When you lose a boat it has an immediate impact."

Observed Scuttlebutt reader Ken Katz, “I hope that some among us will find Sail MV a worthy organization for donation. I would never have become such an avid sailor were it not for the opportunities offered to me by very similar organizations that bring sailing within the reach of the young and not yet wealthy.”

Donations can be submitted here:

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