All Hands on Deck: The Niagara’s free winter sail training program begins Jan. 9

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Wednesday, January 6th, 2016 at 3:00 PM
All Hands on Deck: The Niagara’s free winter sail training program begins Jan. 9 by Mary Birdsong
Contributed photo

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to try something outside of your comfort zone, this just might be the thing.

Starting Jan. 9, the Niagara League is conducting free weekly workshops to teach interested people the skills necessary to sail the U.S. Brig Niagara. They will be held on Saturday mornings until April 30, when newly-minted sailors will take their skills out onto the water in the ship’s seasonal shake-down sail.

Classes will cover Niagara and regional maritime history, line handling, tool use, knots, rigging, and a host of other skills necessary to keep the Niagara safe and in one piece. When training is completed, participants then have the opportunity to become Niagara volunteers. By helping with ship maintenance, volunteers earn credit toward sailing with the ship in the summer. Not a bad payoff.

According to Christopher Cusson, Second Mate and Ship Volunteer Coordinator, the training program has been taking place since the first sailing season in 1991. “The ship’s First Mate David Goldman will be the lead instructor for the program with the assistance of our winter crew and myself. Current volunteers will be participating to help in teaching those who are new to the skills.” Training is open to those 14 years and older, with those under 16 needing the accompaniment of an adult.

Classes will be held on Jan. 9, 16, and 23; Feb. 6 and 20; March 5 and 19; and April 2, 16, and 23. The program is open-enrollment, meaning you don’t have to participate in every class.

“This is a unique opportunity for the residents of this region to sail on their tall ship.”

The Niagara needs volunteers to help sail, says Cusson. “Our volunteers are the backbone of our organization and we are grateful for the hard work and passion they share year round. This is a unique opportunity for the residents of this region to sail on their tall ship. Very few communities have such an exceptional ship and we hope to share it with as many as possible.” 

— Mary Birdsong

Sound like fun or a stimulating challenge? Contact the League via email at volunteer@flagshipniagara.org or call 452.2744. 

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