Back on the Water with the Girls’ Boat Project

Chrissy McLeanAll, Girls' Boat Project, Youth Programs

This week commenced the first Wednesday afternoon of the Fall session of the Girls Boat Project at the Northwest Maritime Center. Some who joined in on the fun – students and instructors alike – were returning from seasons past, others for the first time. Our group has 9 in all, including one teaching assistant, Emilia, who has a few years of experience within the GBP program to expand upon.

Our instructors are Chrissy, who has worked with the program for a host of years and is very passionate about marine life and mariners skills, K (short for Kendra), who is a recent graduate from the Northwest School of Boat Building and is skilled at guiding kids in the shop, and Taylor, who enjoys rowing, sailing, and has been the instructor for the Messing About in Boats youth summer camp program at NWMC for the past two summers.

We were lucky with a warm early Fall day, weather wise, and were inspired to spend our first meeting together out on the water aboard ‘Onward’ a longboat dory built by the Northwest School of Wooden Boat Building. At one time she was used by a group of women during the Race to Alaska. The water was calm, a light breeze around us, and a remarkable alpine glow showing from the mountain ranges that surround our lovely Bay.

After meeting in the Discovery classroom, we had snack of carrots and peanut butter, and shared in some icebreaker activities. Then we headed downstairs to the Bosun’s Locker to get fitted for lifejackets and then down to Point Hudson Marina to head out on Onward. Some of the girls had been on Onward before, some just had been rowing or sailing before, but all were looking forward to spending the afternoon on the water and engaged in learning boat terminology and the language that surrounds proper rowing techniques.

Onward has four rowing stations, a tiller, and a sailing rig that includes a mainsail, jib, and mizzenmast. Next week, the instructors will rig the boat, and hopefully weather will be such that we can go out for a sail as a group. While out on the water, we sang sea shanties that aid in finding and sustaining a rhythm while rowing, and we did a ‘man overboard’ drill with a fender and life ring. One of the best aspects of rowing is the opportunity to practice communicating with others to accomplish a goal or find a stride, and when we practiced that, we were able to retrieve our flotation devices and make a safe course back into the harbor.

This season we will be focusing on time on the water when the weather allows, boat maintenance of Onward, and the building of a Skunk Island Skiff in the Northwest Maritime Center boat shop. Lots of learning and fun will be had, so stay tuned in to our blog for more!