October 12, 2009

Free Sailing – Lessons Learned

Free Sailing at the National Sailing Hall of Fame
Sailing Center

Inaugural Season April – October 2009
Lessons Learned


  • Utilize National Sailing Hall of Fame Sailing Center newly renovated public docks

  • Inaugurate a community sailing program

  • Take sailing program to the public

  • Provide a national template


  • A consortium of organizations (mostly non-profits) with resources, both boatsand people, came together, leaving turf at the door, to get the public out on sailboats and to create a community sailing program. Annapolis Community Boating is the product of the Free Sailing program.

  • Organizations: National Sailing Hall of Fame & Sailing Center, Box of Rain, CRAB (Chesapeake Regional Accessible Boating), Brendan Corporation, Chessie Jr. Racing and Annapolis Sailing School


  • Sunday afternoons; 12:00 - 4:00 pm; April 19 – October 4, 2009

  • Thursday evenings; 5:00 - 8:00 pm;  June  and July

  • Reservations required

  • No shows were a problem beginning in September



  • 435

  • 95% have never sailed

  • Came from Annapolis area, Washington area, Baltimore area, Northern Virginia, New Jersey and Eastern Shore of Maryland

  • A grandmother and her 11 year old grandson, three generations of a Korean family (9 people), professional athletes, other families, other nationalities, and a family who brought their terminally ill father on Fathers Day- he said, “I had the best fathers day ever.”

  • One opportunity per person per season

  • Local businesses report that those who have participated in the program are now signing up for sailing lessons and sailing opportunities


  • The boats used have included Rainbows lent by Annapolis Sailing School, Freedom 20s and a Hunter 22 lent by C.R.A.B., Barnet 14s lent by Brendan Sailing Program, J 105’s lent by Chessie Jr. Racing, Topaz Dinghies lent by Topaz, a J80 lent by J/World, Donnybrook lent by Jim Muldoon, Adventurer (Cherubini 56) lent by Art Birney,  Outward Bound HI30s, a Catalina 25 lent by Drew Parker, a C&C 27 lent by Tom Walsh, a Quickstep 24 lent by Doug Roberts, a Catalina 42 lent by Tony Ireland, Elf lent by Ric Carron, Mad Will lent by Angus Phillips, a Jenneau lent by Annapolis Boat Charters and a Harbor 20, J80, and J105 lent by Chesapeake Boating Club

  • The Jamie Boekel Foundation provided funding for life jackets


  • Those participating receive safety instructions, a knot tying lesson, information on the Chesapeake Bay and environmental stewardship and a listing of available sailing opportunities in the area. (30-45 minutes)

  • On the water; on board safety instruction and three hours of sailing

  • Could shorten to the whole program to three hours

  • Walk by public interested in briefings held outside



  • The location is an easily recognizable and findable public place


  • Each organization has its own constituency and mechanisms for marketing-mailings, newsletters, flyers, e-mail blasts, media contacts, etc. The announcement of the program started going out a month before the first weekend.

  • Coverage in the Annapolis Capital, Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, SpinSheet and others began to appear a week before the first weekend. It is word of mouth which is now driving people to call for a reservation.

  • Coverage of the program underway in Annapolis Capital and on Fox 5 in Washington


  • Two coordinators (Volunteer) Staff during this first season was a mix of volunteers and modestly paid coaches.

  • Coaches should be rotated to minimize burnout – surprisingly draining to do week in and week out from April to October


  • Each organization and individual carries insurance on their boats. Each participant signs a waiver holding Annapolis Community Boating and the National Sailing Hall of Fame harmless


  • During the first season most everything was donated. Part of the exercise was to determine costs.  Actual costs $2,960. This does not include all the volunteer time donated





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