Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Come Sail Away

April 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Come Sail Away

If the standard sailing club is all about getting out on the water, there’s a club in Queens that is not so typical.  At The American Small Craft Association (TASCA) Boating Club in Queens, there’s an underlying emphasis on altruism.

As learning to sail in an urban area can be a difficult task, TASCA relies on volunteers to teach would be sailors how to sail small crafts that are owned by the club.  It’s done so for over 45 years in furtherance of its original threefold mission:

  • Promote friendship and good will among all persons interested in sailing small craft.
  • Promote standards of safety and proficiency.
  • Render a service in promoting small craft activity as recreation and sport.

Peter McCabe, TASCA’s president, explains how the volunteer organization works. “TASCA provides an affordable opportunity for people living in and around New York City to learn and enjoy sailing by providing a basic sailing course for the general public and more advanced instruction for its members. Many members go on to buy their own boats and join other sailing clubs whilst still participating in TASCA activities,” notes McCabe. “It turns out that quite a few of us enjoy teaching and instructing as well as sailing.”

SONY DSCThe approximately 280 members of TASCA are diverse, with many ethnic backgrounds. The sailors range from teenagers through octogenarians and include members that sail on their days off from work and school and those who have retired from jobs and careers. About 100 members are active; McCabe says members who move away or are unable to participate continue to pay dues in an effort to support the club and stay in touch.

In keeping with its dedication to volunteerism and teaching the basics of sailing to a wide range of people, TASCA provides challenging sailing opportunities for youth through community outreach programs with non-profit organizations including the Boy and Girl Scouts and public and private schools in New York City.

TASCA has taught more than 3,500 people basic sailing and boating safety over the years.  Many of these graduates have joined TASCA and advanced their boating skills — some have gone on to become boat owners and sailed in locations around the world.  TASCA membership entitles access to courses in instructor, dockmaster, skipper (an intermediate course), and cruise skipper (an advanced course). Members also belong to allied nautical organizations like the U.S. Power Squadrons, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Sailing Association, and American Sailing Association, and participate in these organizations’ educational courses.

Over the years, the club has owned intermediate size vessels of 19 to 28 feet. Once certified, members can sail these boats on the Long Island Sound or the East River — other members are welcome to join in as crew to learn the ropes.  Members learn skills during these trips such as making a sail plan; studying charts; assessing weather, wind and tides; using equipment; and sailing tactics and techniques.

The club offers open sailing and organized races on the Sound and Meadow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park so members may further improve their skills.  TASCA also offers other water activities, including kayaking and regatta racing. Several times a year, members charter yachts in areas including Florida, Connecticut, and on the Chesapeake Bay to hone their skills and practice good seamanship.

Early in TASCA’s history, members recognized the need for an affordable program covering basic sailing to skippering. They eventually created the framework of the program that TASCA continues to implement, involving students in classroom and onboard training, and drawing them back to the program where students eventually become teachers.

That basic sailing course is offered, in cooperation with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, to the public starting in April (weather permitting). Students are taught basic sailing theory and small boat handling and maneuvers.

“TASCA is one of the best kept secrets in Queens, despite our efforts to make it otherwise,” says McCabe. “We provide a basic sail course in a friendly environment, and we work hard to make sure that our students have every opportunity to complete the course.

“The boats are large enough to be very safe, very stable, and usually dry, but they are small enough to provide a very tactile sailing experience, he adds. “Lessons are physical, but not strenuous, as maneuvering in the lake requires frequent tacking.”

For further information: Visit www.sailtasca.org or email info@sailtasca.org

TASCA Sailing Club by Bill Summers

By Carly Zinderman


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