Published: July 2014 Southern Boating
© 2014 Troy Gilbert
The love of boating is more often than not a trait passed down from generation to generation. Strike up a conversation at any yacht club or your favorite waterfront joint and it’s likely that person will have a fondly remembered childhood tale of fishing or sailing with a parent or grandparent. With over 123 million people residing in coastal counties or parishes in the United States, there are surprisingly only 12 million recreational boats in the country according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association . Obviously there is plenty of room for growth on many waterways and one way to ramp up the next generation of boaters is early exposure to boating and its way of life. A lifetime love for the water can come about simply by instilling that sense of adventure, self reliance and freedom found in boating to young kids and a new $100M facility in Galveston, Texas seeks to do just that.
Originally conceived as a modest high-adventure boating camp for the Sea Scouts, the scope of the project on Offatts Bayou in Galveston has broadened and now even includes a Community Youth Sailing Center and a maritime education facility for merchant mariner students and others. Financed almost entirely by a donation from a private Texas donor who is very active in the Sea Scouting programs, the 60,000sf facility which includes lodging, offices, classrooms and a cafeteria was recently completed adjacent to their already constructed floating docks and piers. The complex will be capable of hosting 200-300 Scouts on a weekly basis.
Already home to a fleet of Sonar and FJ sailboats and an 82′ Coast Guard cutter converted to a functioning on-the-water classroom, the Galveston Sea Base will be adding a variety of vessels ranging from kayaks to schooners with the goals of emphasizing sailing instruction, seamanship, navigation and high-adventure. The programs are expected to draw over 20,000 scouts a year from throughout the country and have already hosted scouting programs from Louisiana, Missouri and throughout Texas.
Conceived as complimentary and not as a competitor to the Sea Scout’s hugely successful Sea Base in the Florida Keys, the Galveston Sea Base will draw from scouting programs throughout the central United States and the Northern Gulf Coast. With many children lacking in exposure to boating through a family member, this immense state-of-the-art program and facility is and will be a game changer in youth boating education for decades to come.