Skipjack Looking For Volunteers On Board & On Shore

The skipjack Nathan of Dorchester is accepting new volunteers for crew, maintenance and administrative positions as she gets ready for her 2010 sailing season.

Owned, operated and maintained by the nonprofit Dorchester Skipjack Committee, the Nathan sails late April through early November from Long Wharf in Cambridge. She offers charters for all occasions, educational sails and special event trips throughout the Chesapeake Bay, along with a regular public sailing schedule.

A volunteer orientation session will be held on Thursday, March 25, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Dorchester CountyAirport. Registration for the session is requested by March 20. Light refreshments will be provided.

Special help is needed this year in handling reservations. The organization can use one or several individuals who have computer access and time to answer phone and email requests, along with someone to help at the dock during public sails. Except for the times at the dock, most of the work can be done from home.

Crew volunteers must be at least sixteen years of age and fit enough to handle physical challenges such as hauling on lines, raising sails and hoisting the pushboat. No prior sailing experience is necessary, as all crew members undergo thorough training before serving on passenger trips.

Crew training begins in early April and continues throughout the season, with trainees participating at their own availability and pace. Once awarded full crew status, volunteers are expected to serve on at least a few passenger trips each month, as well as participate within the organization. As a Coast Guard certified vessel, all crew are subject to drug testing. Captains with Masters Licenses and Sail Endorsements are also needed.

Docent crew are being recruited this year to help enhance the sailing experience for passengers. These volunteers will not need to complete regular crew training. Docent volunteers will receive instruction in skipjack heritage and other areas of interest to share with passengers on selected trips.

While the Nathan is the youngest skipjack on the Chesapeake Bay, built by volunteers in 1994, as a wooden boat she still requires constant maintenance. Carpenters, riggers, engine mechanics and those who enjoy scraping and painting are all welcome as volunteers.

The skipjack’s public sailing season begins on April 24, when she will sail to Oxford to offer free sails during Oxford Day. Her regular schedule of public sails from Long Wharf begins Saturday, May 1. Two-hour sails are offered each Saturday the skipjack is in port, from 1 to 3 p.m. The Nathan offers two one-hour sails one Sunday each month, beginning May 23.

For more information, to charter the boat or to volunteer, contact the Dorchester Skipjack Committee at 410-228-7141 or visit its website, www.skipjack-nathan.org.

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