Next Saturday sees the start of a nine day tall ship adventure for 26 Orange county teenagers! All of the youth are members of Mariners 936 sea scouts based in Dana Point Harbor. They will be sailing on The Spirit of Dana Point , a traditionally built, accurate replica of a 1770's privateer used during the American Revolution, which is owned by the Ocean Institute. According to Jim “Skip” Wehan , leader of the Mariner program and Captain of the tall ship, this voyage is the highlight of the Mariner year.
The itinerary includes visits to remote coves in the Channel Islands National Park on Santa Cruz and Anacapa Islands and brief stopovers in Santa Barbara Harbor and Catalina Island. Wehan reports that sailing a 118 foot replica from the early nineteenth century is a very unique experience requiring a great deal of teamwork. In addition, he points out, there are many fun activities for adventurous youth including hiking, kayaking and snorkeling on and around these spectacular islands . This awesome experience often results in bonding and formation of lifelong friendships. Participants prepare for the cruise year round with sail and maintenance training on Saturdays as well as classroom instruction on Wednesday evenings. The youth will serve as crew members to man the sailing vessel under the supervision of a professional crew. The more experienced of the group will assume responsibilities as junior officers; emphasis on youth leadership is weaved into all Mariner activities. All cruise participants will be assigned to one of three crews serving around the clock watches led by youth officers. Some have spent as many as six years in the program, honing their maritime skills in preparation for their duties as officers, and in keeping with the Mariner motto “Where we go one, there we go all”, they will be expected to pass on their knowledge to the younger Mariners on board. For graduating seniors this may be their last Mariner adventure before starting college in the fall. Although most will continue sailing for recreation and fun, some will be heading to the Maritime Academy in the fall with the intent of turning their love for the sea into a career.
Based out of the County Facility known as the Sailing and Conference Center, Mariners is in it’s 35th year of operation providing ocean experience and training to the youth of Orange County. The program depends on the expertise of 40 adult volunteers and utilizes a fleet of vessels ranging from eight to thirty eight feet in length. Youth in two distinct programs learn basic through advanced maritime skills in a club atmosphere that is largely youth led under adult supervision. The coed program for 12 and 13 year olds is known as Mariner Juniors while the program for youth ages 14 through high school is known as Mariners. Further information is available on the Mariner Web Site mariners936.com. Upcoming events can also be seen on Facebook.