Have you ever wanted to sail on the open seas? Well, the South Carolina Maritime Museum may be able to help you catch the wind in your sails.
For the first time ever, the Georgetown museum will offer a weekend family sailing program.
“We’ve had an interest in offering a program for adults to learn how to sail, so we thought now may be a good time to do that for families,” said Hope McFaddin, the museum’s office manager.
The new program will offer an opportunity for groups of two to learn how to sail a small sailboat and “break away together from homebound activities and experience the freedom of fun of small-boat sailing.”
“These will be small dingy boats, not large sailboats, so participants will have to do some work,” McFaddin said. “There’s no engine, no steering wheel. This will give people a chance to learn how to sail a small boat. It will give them a chance to give sailing a try.”
Boats can accommodate two people, but there is a 300-pound weight limit for each vessel. There are two weekends set aside for the program – Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14, and again the next weekend of June 20 and 21. Hours will be 9 a.m-4 p.m. on Saturdays, and noon-4 p.m. on Sundays.
Sessions will include a half-day in a classroom setting to learn sailing basics at the Maritime Museum, 729 Front St. The remaining hours will be spent on the water.
Cost is $375 per boat for a two-member team. Pre-registration is required.
Sydney Register, a certified U.S. sailing instructor, will lead the course, and will follow participants in her own watercraft.
“Sydney will be heading this up,” McFaddin said, “and she’s wonderful. She’s a sophomore at George Washington University in D.C., and she’s one of our original counselors for the youth sailing program here.”
Participants in the program can be a parent and a child, or, because of the weight limit, two small adults.
“We just thought this would be a great way for families to spend some time with one another and for a chance to get out,” McFaddin said. “It can be a mother and a child, two siblings, whoever.
“We know a lot of people have been at home together these past few weeks, but this will be a time to get outside together and be on the water.”
The sailing program, McFaddin noted, is not replacing the annual summer sailing program for children, which will be held in July and August. Registration is now open for that program.
The Maritime Museum re-opened in mid-May after being shuttered for much of 2020. In January, the museum closed to make some flooring repairs. It was only open a week in March before being forced to close because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McFaddin said the museum’s large space and self-guided tours are perfect for people hoping to visit but also to practice social distancing.
“It’s been great to see people again here at the museum,” she said. “I know I’m so happy to see people again and for them to see our museum.”
The museum welcomes more than 20,000 visitors each year, and there is no admission fee. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. On the first floor, visitors find local maritime history, including the original Fresnel lens from the Georgetown lighthouse. On the second floor, the museum features revolving exhibits, which currently include one about the US South Carolina battleship.
From Sept. 8-Nov. 8, the museum will host the Smithsonian Traveling Exhibit titled “Water/Ways.” It’s part of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program.
– By Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce