A Special Day on the Bay

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An inspiring sailing event will be underway at the American Legion Post tomorrow, Oct. 16, when anxious and eager soon-to-be sailors help steer the boats, adjust sheet and halyard lines, and feel the thrill of sailing with all the sensations of wind and motion.  The event is the Sail for the Blind and Visually Impaired sponsored by the Women’s Ocean Racing and Sailing Association (WORSA) and hosted by the Newport Harbor American Legion Post 291.

I interviewed Leo Vortouni, American Legion Post Commodore, on my radio show last Saturday, and he mentioned that this wonderful event will host more than 180 blind and visually impaired adults along with their escorts during this day-long event on and off the water.

“I have a personal story of taking a person out on a sail.  When I told my blind guest where we were in the harbor and the direction we were sailing, he described in great deal about the houses we were passing and who lived there,” Leo told the radio audience.  This Saturday’s Boathouse Radio Show will be broadcasting live from the American Legion during this sailing event, so stop by to say hello to Capt. Chandler Bell and me.

The women’s association began this annual day of sailing about 21 years ago with only a couple of boats.  With a need for more boats for the guests, the American Legion stepped up the plate to host the event at the post, and now more than 40 sailboat owners volunteer their boats and as skippers for the day. The boats will sail throughout Newport Harbor and some boats’ skippers might take the vessels offshore onto the Pacific Ocean if the sea conditions permit a safe voyage.  The winds do look favorable this weekend, with winds averaging 10 knots.  Nevertheless, we are very fortunate to have a large harbor that provides protected and enjoyable sailing.

The shoreside volunteers will be helping to provide breakfast, lunch and entertainment, and acting as escorts to the waiting sailboats.   This is a high point for the year for many of the guests, and many people will sign up for the next year’s event the next day.  However, it is the smiles when the guest sailors take the helm and feel the wind on their faces.   I have personally taught blind sailing students, and I have noticed that they can really sense the motions of the boat and any changes in energy levels or wind changes while sailing.  Let’s not forget the accompanying service dogs are welcomed, too, as a play yard will be set up for the dogs while their owners are sailing on the boats.

The American Legion Post is bayside at 15th Street on the Balboa Peninsula, and it is the only Post that has an associated yacht club along with a small marina for their members and visitors.  Remember, Sail for the Blind and Visually Impaired can use your help in these economically tough times either as a volunteer or with a tax deductible donation, by calling Frank Reinhart, American Legion Yacht Club Vice Commodore, at (949) 933-3420, or find out more information online at http://www.al291.com/sites/yachtclub/index.php?menuID=ViewEvent&eventID=16616.

Tip of the week is the next time you go boating, invite someone to be a guest who does not have the opportunity to get out on the water.  Do you remember the first time that you went boating and felt the wind in the hair and the salt water flowing under the hull, or in some situations, the salt water spraying over the boat?  And each time we go boating, don’t we experience a thrill, relaxation, or harmony with the seas?

Just keep in mind that your guests are not familiar with boating safely, so show them where the lifejackets are stored and how to put on one.  Also, show your guests where the fire extinguishers, flares, and other items are kept onboard before you leave the dock.  Another very important topic that is often overlooked is to show the landlubber how to use the vessel’s head.

Let’s not forget the environment, as I always remind everyone that nothing goes overboard into the water as trash.  Remind your guests to dispose of the trash properly, and especially remind smokers not to flick their cigarette butts in the water.  However above all, you need to show your guest a safe and good time on the water, and know that you might change someone’s life by introducing them to the boating lifestyle.

And don’t forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead’s Boathouse Radio Show, broadcasting coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network every Saturday at noon, Pacific Time.  Join Chandler Bell and me as we talk about “all things boating.”  You can find the station listings, cable TV channels, live streaming on the Internet, and now available are apps to listen to the show for your iPhone, Blackberry, iTouch, Android, Palm, and Windows Mobile at www.BoathouseTV.com or www.BoathouseRadio.com.

Until next week, Safe Voyages!


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