Frederiksted Community Boating partnered with the Caribbean Centers for Boys and Girls of the Virgin Islands to mark its 20th year of teaching sailing to St. Croix youth in the Frederiksted Harbor. Two classes of students ages 8 through 11 participated over a four- week period.
Susan Allick Beach, the co-founder of the sailing camp, saw the need for collaboration this year, and she said it was a perfect match for the organizations, giving new life to the boating community.
“The program was a blast,” Caribbean Centers Executive Director Neil Canton said. “We look forward to doing it again.”
Every summer since 1990, children ages 8 and older have enjoyed sailing under the tutelage of Junie Bomba, Beach and former students who have been certified over the years. This year, instructor Lucia Bishop was at the helm.
Bishop is a certified junior sailing instructor who worked with younger students at the St. Croix Yacht Club Sailing School. It’s a different experience with the older sailors at Frederiksted Community Boating, Bishop said.
“I interact with them in their boats from my motorized dinghy, giving instructions in their situations of need,” Bishop added.
Ahimsa Eastman, 11, recalled sailing around the harbor last year. “This is my first time with a group, and I really liked it,” Eastman shared.
Jonathan Hannah is 10 years old and traveled from St. Thomas to join the boating camp. “I love steering a boat,” he said.
“I like teaching kids,” Bishop said. “There are other opportunities around, but I wouldn’t mind doing this for a while. It’s a nice job, and I get paid for it.”
“Learn Sailing Right,” from the small boat certification series, offers comprehensive sailing language and directions, diagrams, and numerous guidelines as an effective learning tool for the sailing camp.
The camp also uses a certification record book called the “Small Boat Sailor” or “The Little Red Book.” It teaches small boat sailing general skills, small boat beginner boat handling skills, and intermediate general skills and theoretical knowledge.
Each sailor is graded on the knowledge learned and displayed during the duration of the four-week sailing camp.
The boating school’s history goes back to the summer of 1990 when Bomba’s Charters was operating with daily lessons that had Frederiksted as the starting and ending point. The Department of Labor and the Virgin Islands Victory Partnership provided grants, and the program gave young people a week of sailing instruction with a curriculum provided by the U.S. Sailing Organization. The program benefited 150 youths.
Frederiksted Community Boating has 8-foot prams built by St. Croix Educational Complex Vocational School students in Frank Cousins’ boat building classes.
Cousins’ students also built the 20-foot safety motorboat that the school used for many years, although it was replaced by a much smaller dinghy.
A shipwright and longtime resident, Cousins instructed the students with 10 kits given to the sailing school by Michael Bornn, including all the rigging and sails.
By the summer of 2000, Wilfred ‘Junie Bomba’ Allick Jr. began hauling a flatbed trailer with six of the prams to Dorsch Beach for the first year of the newly organized Frederiksted Community Boating, Inc program.
The program was a franchise, with the U.S. Sailing Association certifying the instructors and providing textbooks, curriculum, timelines for skills acquisition, record keeping books and awards.
Bomba, Beach, and Cousins founded the new iteration of the sailing school.
Because of her experience at the Annapolis Sailing School, Beach taught the lecture part of the program that included land drills and simulations of the procedures students would do on the water. Bomba operated the safety motorboat that kept the students corralled into an area about the size of a football field.
“The students enjoyed sailing to other beaches for picnics and honed their skills by playing water games in the boats and by racing around triangular courses,” Beach said.
A permanent boathouse was necessary to provide a safe home for the boats without the twice-daily labor-intensive trailering of the motorboat from the Allicks’ home to the different sites.
“Funding was provided to build a boathouse through a bill introduced by Sen. Alicia Hansen, who was greatly enthused by the program,” Beach said. Dan Coughlin engineered the building, which was untouched by Hurricane Maria, she added.
Cousins, Bomba, a parent Dave Lorschbaugh, and several other major helpers completed the building of the Frederiksted Community Boating boathouse in 2007 at 36 Strand Street, adjacent to the fish market.
Cousins passed in 2011, and a ceremony dedicated the boathouse in his name: The Frank Cousins Boathouse.
Between the years 2000 and 2016, Frederiksted Community Boating graduated 400 students.
Caribbean Centers Unit Director Emmanuella Perez-Cassius said the sailing camp was a great fit for their summer campers.
“Without the lead they took this summer, this sailing season would never have happened,” Beach said.
Editor’s note: This story has been edited since it was first posted to correct the name of the person who gave the program the boat kits. The Source regrets the error.