MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Marines have been sailing the open seas since the inception of the Corps, and for a few dollars and 12-hours of instruction, the Marine Corps Recruit Depot’s boathouse will help Marines and other service members keep that tradition alive – in a sailboat.
Service members looking to learn how to operate a sailboat can take advantage of sailing classes offered at the depot’s boathouse from March through October each year.
At the end of the two-day course, participants will have earned a qualification card. This allows them to rent a 14-foot Capri sail boat from the boathouse and take it around the San Diego Harbor. The boathouse also honors civilian sailing certificates held by authorized patrons.
“Everyone should sail, I think,” said Hugo Burchartz, manager, boathouse recreation center who has been sailing for 33 years. “It’s good for your spirit, and how you look at life.”
The course starts by providing basic information about how the boats operate, before moving on to more advanced topics such as how to help a capsized boat.
“They’re teaching us just enough to know what we’re doing and go out there with confidence,” said Lance Cpl. Ryan Collins, crash and fire rescue, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron.
The boathouse also offers larger 22-foot sailboats. Students looking to rent 22-footers need practice in the smaller boats first.
“The different boats require different ability levels,” said Burchartz. “And (sailing is) green. There’s no motor, so it doesn’t pollute,” he added about the environmentally friendly aspects of sailing.
After the first day of classroom instructions, students take the boats out in the estuary to practice what they learned. On the second day, they have a couple of classes and take a test before setting sail in the San Diego Bay.
If the students pass the 50-question test, they earn a qualification card that is good at any Marine Corps Community Services or Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center worldwide.
Although the classes are tailored for beginners, it can make a good refresher course for the “seasoned” sailors who might not have sailed in a while.
Each day’s classes last about six hours and are held every other weekend at the boathouse. The classes can hold eight students and cost $25 a person.
“You learn a lot of terms that almost all come into play,” said Michael Leonard, a retired U.S. Navy sailor. “This can turn into a lifelong hobby.”
The boathouse also offers instruction on canoes, kayaks, motor boats and windsurfing boards, all of which are available to rent. For more information call (619) 524-5269.