Members in Victoria, BC Complete Competent Crew Sailing Course
On September 20-24, Soldier On members in Victoria participated in a five-day Competent Crew sailing course, hosted by the Canadian Forces Sailing Association, Esquimalt. Throughout the course, participants learned the basics of sailing 23-foot Sonar Keelboats.
“I never thought that I could do it; I thought sailing was a more exclusive activity than it actually is," said participant Ben Lyons. "I appreciate the community and the sport, it’s awesome how welcoming everyone is and it’s so accessible and friendly. It’s something I never thought I would get to do, but I loved it and hope to participate in future Soldier On activities."
Each day, participants enjoyed a sailing-specific yoga and mindfulness session led by Marisha Schaefer, program coordinator and sailing instructor with the CFSA, before tackling classroom based theoretical learning sessions focusing on safety, navigation, the parts and systems of boats, how to sail a boat, basic operations such a docking, anchoring, rigging, what to do in emergencies, sailing strategies, and ocean regulations.
After classroom learning, participants progressed their skills by sailing the Sonar boats. Each day, participants sailed for longer durations and were given the opportunity to try more jobs and practice their leadership by skippering/commanding the vessel.
Over the course of the week the participants went from sailing with direct instructor supervision, to sailing confidently from a command position, with instructor support alongside. Participants also had the opportunity to work as a team and sail the larger, 36-foot Royal Canadian Navy vessel, Tuna.
One excursion involved travelling to Cole Island, a local historical site. There, participants had a picnic while learning about the history of the British naval structures on Cole Island, which date back to the 1880s.
“This was an amazing experience with wonderful, positive staff and coaches that were eager to teach and also happy to help us partake in the activities," said participant Sepehr Nademi. "It was awesome to take the Navy sailboat, Tuna, out and it was a good chance to experience sailing different sizes of vessels. I had an amazing time learning to sail the Sonars. Having fewer people in each boat allowed us to fully participate and learn sailing. What a wonderful experience!”