SOINTULA—A small group of Malcolm Island kids are a little wiser about the ways of the sea after they participated in an inaugural sailing course hosted by a former Calgary cop.
“I originally thought about getting together with other sailors to have a fun sailing day with the kids,” said Skipper Jim MacDougall, who, as a youngster, spent countless hours sailing with his father on the Great Lakes. “Then I thought, ‘Why not have a sailing camp?’”
MacDougall did just that and Saturday the four kids in the five-day course attended a graduation barbecue at MacDougall’s sea shore home he shares with wife, Ivana, and Portuguese water dog, Bailey.
Skipper Jim spent 26-years as a Calgary police officer, retiring a few years ago with the rank of detective.
He moved to the island and chartered on the west coast where he completed cruising and navigation courses through the Canadian Yachting Association.
The class he offered the kids is his way of sharing his love for the sea and his two male and two female students spent much of their time aboard Skipper Jim’s fully restored, 1971 Pearson 39 sloop, the Sea Jays, which he charters through his company, Islay Mist Sailing Charters.
“I put together the course that really focuses a lot on boat safety,” said Skipper Jim, who noted all his students were well-versed in things like where the safety equipment is, how to use it, safe and proper anchoring and man overboard recovery situations.
The kids also learned about rights of ways, collision avoidance, leaving and entering a harbour safely, working a windlass and things like learning to read tide and current tables.
“Those things are very important up here, but most important was to have fun” said the skipper, who also noted every student got plenty of time at the helm of the Sea Jays.
“Most of these kids have grown up on the water, motorboating and fishing, but most have never been on a sailboat,” said Skipper Jim.
“The sailing part was the most fun,” said Skipper Jim student, 13-year-old Bessy Prevost.
“I really liked learning different parts of the sail and I’d like to do it again.”
She may get her wish because Skipper Jim said he’s looking to expanding the course next year.
“This was a start-up year, but I’d like to do a Level II course for the kids who graduated Level 1,” he said.
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