THE GIFT OF SAILING • As we sail into the holiday season, we begin to think about the gift giving that goes on among families and friends. We sailors are easy, since we are always happy to receive anything to do with our boats. A simple rigging knife is as welcome as a full foul weather suit. To help you with some gift ideas for the sailors in your life, we have assembled an array of fun and useful items in our annual Editors’ Choice Gift Guide on page 36.
The whole gift swapping tradition is great, but this is also the season when we have a chance to make a gift to those who need our help in one way or another. And since we are sailors, giving the gift of sailing to people who might otherwise find it difficult or impossible to get out on the water for financial or physical reasons is a wonderful idea.
Almost every city near a body of water has a community sailing center, if not two or three. Some are not-for-profit and some are open membership clubs, which are often break-even enterprises at best. Community sailing centers are the places where kids who might never get a chance to go sailing otherwise can learn the ropes and discover how to manage a small sailboat. It can be a life changing experience. So why not make a donation to your local community sailing center? Even a small amount can make a real difference.
For some, physical disabilities stand in the way of getting out on the water. The original sailing organization dedicated to serving disabled sailors was called Shake-a-Leg. Founded in 1982 in Newport, RI, Shake-a-Leg has helped more than 10,000 sailors with disabilities go sailing and racing. The organization runs regattas and has been involved with a wide range of corporations and sponsors. Rebranded as Sail to Prevail in 2010, the organization continues to lead the way in providing access to sailing and was instrumental in getting the Paralympics to accept sailing as a recognized sport. To make a donation, visit www sailtoprevail.org.
An offshoot of Shake-a-Leg Newport is Shake-a-Leg Miami, which operates year-round and has earned a reputation for excellent on-the-water sail training as well as a broad base of fitness and wellness education programs. As a vacation destination or for Miami residents, Shake-a-Leg Miami offers participants an innovative package. To make a donation, go to www.shakealegmiami.org.
A new organization that offers water-based activities for returning U.S. veterans, particularly those with injuries and other disabilities, has sprung up in South Florida. Veterans Ocean Adventures has joined forces with Shake-a-Leg Miami for the sailing portion of their activities, which are usually sunset cruises, couples cruises and other low-impact, fun experiences for vets who want to get into sailing. If you want to say thanks to the men and women who serve you, make a donation at www.vetssailing.org.
So, this year, as well as filling up the family stockings with shackles, sea boots and handheld GPS devices, why not think outside the stocking and give the gift of sailing to those who will really appreciate it?