Since its inception in 1992, Sail Martha’s Vineyard has focused on connecting the Island’s school children and the community at large with the traditions and experiences of the Island’s maritime heritage. It offers a summer sailing program to over 400 young sailors. Projects within the community have included; wooden boat building in the schools, scholarship funds to pursue time on sail training vessels and educational programs. It also seeks to attract and welcome historic sailing vessels to the Island so the community can experience first hand the sailing ships of the past.
The Summer sailing program is offered to 8 to 18 year olds. Students, Islander and seasonal visitors alike, are taught basic rowing and seamanship in small Island built wooden skiffs, as well as in more contemporary designs. The program operates out of the Sailing Camp Park on the Lagoon in Oak Bluffs. The Lagoon offers an ideal location for sailing instruction with sheltered waters, sandy beach and minimal marine traffic.
In 2007, the Maritime Studies program was developed to offer a Vocational track class at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. This program, the first in the state of Massachusetts, provides students with the skills and practical experience in order to gain employment on and around the water. This year a more advanced level of the course is being offered as well.
The High School Sailing team, which is sponsored and funded by Sail MV, has developed as the graduates of the summer program have aged. This need for a next step was recognized and a sailing club was formed in 1996. Because of its popularity and success, in 1999 it gained varsity status and began to compete in regional regattas. A Junior High After-School Advanced Fall Program was instituted in 2000 to provide a bridge between the Summer program and the High School Team.
Sail MV continues to expand its activities to include Captain’s Licensing courses, adult sailing instruction, rowing and continuing education courses.
Sail MV is largely supported by small local grants and individual donations. All of its introductory sailing programs for Island children provided at a modest $50 membership fee.