Opportunities for Boating Education

On a lecture tour of the Pacific Northwest, Christine Smith finds more and more opportunities to learn more about yachting.

Center for Wooden Boats
Christine and Jeffrey set up for a lecture at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle.Christine Smith

Since the end of our charter season on the David B, Jeffrey and I have been speaking to clubs and groups around the Pacific Northwest. We've recently had the honor of being invited to talk at several notable groups that emphasize boating education. We spoke at two different Power Squadron meetings, the Center for Wooden Boats, and the Northwest Maritime Center. What I've discovered about all of these groups is how many educational opportunities are available to anyone interested in advancing their boating skills.

The United States Power Squadron is the largest US non-profit dedicated to making recreational boating more fun through education. It currently has over 40,000 members with 400 squadrons across the country. At both the Bellevue and Bellingham squadrons' meeting, Jeffrey and I found the members to be enthusiastic about becoming better boaters. They share knowledge through formal classes that are offered by squadron members and enjoy many social gatherings on and off the water. Their friendships do not end at the dock or after the classes end.

The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle and the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend both offer a different kind of education. These programs excite people about boating through the traditions of wooden boats. They provide access to small boats and emphasize heritage and tradition to inspire the love of boating in the young and old.

CWB’s director, Dick Wagner, talks about the importance of getting people aboard boats. Getting people with little or no experience to the helm is a key part of CWB’s mission. Wagner feels that people catch the sprit of boating when their hand is on the tiller.

Jeffrey and I were also invited to talk at the Northwest Maritime Center as part of their “Wooden Boat Wednesday” series. Port Townsend hosts the Wooden Boat Show each year, keeping the tradition of wooden boats alive in the Pacific Northwest through seminars, classes, and showing boats to the public. The Maritime Center has many opportunities for education in the form of lectures and activities covering topics such as sailing, woodworking, and rigging. Their approach to education is to get people involved by giving them hands-on experiences.

The more that Jeffrey and I travel and speak, the more I learn from others. When we give our lectures, people are hungry for information and especially eager to inspire others to learn. On the surface, it may seem that the United States Power Squadron and small non-profits dedicated to education through wooden boats might not have much in common, but the truth is that these groups grow and nurture the boating community as a whole. As we learn, we become better, safer and more well rounded yachtsmen. Knowledge is our strongest tool when we are on the water, and it is through these varied groups that we can continue to learn and improve our boating experience.