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The Power of Sailing Sometimes, it’s the simplest gestures that make the biggest difference. That was the case late this summer in Charleston, SC, when local sailors pooled their resources and energies, and introduced some 30 youngsters from a group home for foster children to the fun of sailing. By Dan Dickison


t’s not uncommon to see sailboats plying the waters of Charleston Harbor on a Sunday afternoon. It’s not uncommon at all until you look a little closer and realize that the five boats chasing each other from Shutes Folly up to the Ravenel Bridge and back are ferrying a passel of youngsters, most who’ve never set foot on a sailboat before. Each sporting a distinctive PFD, these young neophytes are finding their sea legs under the watchful eyes of local sailors who’d volunteered to participate in a unique outing. Getting 30 some youngsters out sailing is a daunting task, and it wouldn’t have happened at all except for the enthusiasm of Sara Perry, an avid local sailor who has been mentoring one of these kids at the Carolina Youth Development Center (CYDC) in North Charleston for the past year. “I’ve been sailing for about four years,” explains Perry, “and I just love it. I sail with a great crew and we’re really active, doing almost all the local events. And, about a year ago, I started mentoring one of the boys at CYDC. In the course of getting to know him, we talked about the things that I like to do. So, of course, I shared with him about sailing and racing. He thought that was pretty cool. When I found out that he’d never done it, I suggested that we could maybe put a trip together.” Perry took her idea to the CYDC staff. “They were very supportive,” she explains. “They like for the kids to have different experiences that can expand their understanding of the world, but it’s most important that these be safe, positive experiences. Many of these kids have been subjected to serious issues,” she continues, “including physical and sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment. Thankfully, the center has been in place in our community doing amazing, vital work for a long time. Actually, since 1790.” The CYDC staff helped Perry line up all the necessary


November 2016


Ken King’s Sabre 38, Quintette, was one of five host boats for the CYDC kids. Aubrey Myers photo.

permissions for the outing. Then, she mentioned the plan to Jay Cook, the owner of Tohidu, the Beneteau 423 that she regularly crews aboard. “Jay immediately said yes. He’s always generous and super supportive, so he was all for it.” Of course, one boat couldn’t handle all the kids, so Perry quickly spread the word among Tohidu’s rivals—the boats in C Fleet that race in Charleston Ocean Racing Association (CORA) events. “It didn’t take long to find four other boats that wanted to join us,” she says. When the appointed afternoon arrived, the kids boarded buses that whisked them down to the Charleston Harbor Marina. CYDC staff members marshaled the kids on an outer pier where they were fitted with PFDs borrowed from Charleston Community Sailing. And then the boats starting pulling in and the kids clambered on board. There was only a moderate breeze that afternoon, which was a good thing because it meant a gentle introduction to the sport for these kids. “We divided the kids up evenly,” recalls Perry, “and we all left the dock to do a few minutes of on-the-water lessons. Organizing 30-plus kids, getting them in life jackets and onto the boats didn’t leave a lot of time for lessons, but we got them somewhat indoctrinated.” Perry hadn’t planned for any racing, but Patrick Chisum, the Rear Commodore of CORA, had stepped up to offer his sloop as a committee boat the day before the outing. So, as the boats came out into the harbor, a short race

Southwinds November 2016  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...

Southwinds November 2016  

A free, printed sailing magazine reporting on sailing in the southeast U.S: Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missi...