Boatyard Launches Float for Junior Sail

Jr. Sail float

Serving the Community: Boatyard Launches Float for Junior Sail Program

Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard enjoys an active role in partnering with the community, especially where youth and water recreation activities are concerned.

A long-time supporter of such worthy endeavors as the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team, the Gig Harbor Dragon Boat Team and the GHYC Junior Sail Program, the boatyard lent its helpful hand again earlier this month.

Junior Sail’s increasingly popular learn-to-sail program needed a new float this summer to support its expanding fleet of student boats. So what did the organization of hard-working volunteers do? They built their own float, of course. And then, to get the heavy wooden construction launched into the harbor?

Ask Ron Roark, managing director of Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard for help. And he did, of course. In no time a plan was in place and a date scheduled for Travelift operator Mark Rybin to set the brand new 8- by 16-foot float into the water so Junior Sail instructors could tow it to their sailing center up the harbor.

Junior Sail floats

Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard launched a new float (similar to those shown here) for the Gig Harbor Yacht Club Junior Sail Program’s growing fleet of sail camp boats.

You’ve probably seen the small flotilla of little white sailboats zipping around the end of the harbor each summer. This is the Gig Harbor Yacht Club Junior Sail Program’s learn-to-sail day camp, an enriching program for area youth who gain a love a being on the water. The volunteer board of directors is very grateful for support from the community.

GHYC Junior Sail Program Director Joan Storkman expressed her gratitude for the boatyard’s assistance and community service in a letter to Roark, who has been a generous donor to Junior Sail over the years.

“It’s for the kids.” – Junior Sail Program Director Joan Storkman

“We would like to thank Gig Harbor Marina for assisting us in launching the float for GHYC Junior Sail,” she wrote. “Our board members built this 8′ x 16′ float for GHYC Junior Sail Camp — and it was imperative that we have this float for our program beginning on July 8, 2019.

“I put out a plea via email and you called me right away and offered the assistance of your marina,” she continued in her letter to Roark. “I contacted (Yard Manager) Hartwell Champagne who scheduled us in within the time frame we needed.”

Junior Sail floatJunior Sail float

And need it, indeed, for this growing program now in its 10th year with more kids signed up for Sail Camp than ever. Some 200 youth, ages 6-18, will be involved in learn-to-sail camp sessions running throughout the summer out of West Shore Marina. The other dynamic component of GHYC Junior Sail is its very successful high school racing team; plus, it now also offers a middle school racing team.

“Gig Harbor Marina is a tremendous asset to our community.” – Joan Storkman

The non-profit program is proud to offer more than a dozen scholarships each summer to ensure that financial need does not stand in the way of kids participating in the learn-to-sail camp.

Junior Sail program

GHYC Junior Sail summer camp is more popular than ever. About 200 kids, ages 6-18, participate each summer. (2017 file photo)

“We are about fun, friends, adventure and learning life-long skills on the water,” says GHYC Junior Sail’s mission statement, and Joan Storkman likes to put it even more succinctly: “It’s for the kids,” she says often as her motto for the program.

“We cannot thank you and your staff enough for making this happen,” she said in her letter to Roark. “The float was launched and Mark Rybin efficiently and pleasantly assisted us in getting it untied from the Gig Harbor Marina float. We then had our instructional staff tow it with one of our Whalers to West Shore Marina and it was in place within a half-hour of launching. An unbelievably smooth process — and a huge relief to have this project safely completed!

“Gig Harbor Marina is a tremendous asset to our community,” Joan continued. “The services you provide, the professional staff you employ and your willingness to help our community in a time of need. Again, thank you so very much for your assistance on this project.”

Junior Sail instructors

GHYC Junior Sail Camp instructors pause for a photo after towing their new float from Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard. From left: Kara Ashpole, Sail Camp director, instructor Dalton Lovett and junior instructor Dayne Hall. (Photo courtesy of Joan Storkman. Photos of the float-launching by Hartwell Champagne of Gig Harbor Marina & Boatyard)

Storkman added this P.S to her letter: “The photo (above) enclosed shows the instructors who were so thrilled to have the float in place for GHYC Junior Sail classes!”

The public is invited to help support this enriching program through donations, volunteering and, of course, attending the fundraising spaghetti dinner and auction each September. After all: It’s for the kids.



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