By Jack Ford
Navy Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NJROTC) Area 12 hosted their 12th annual Sailing Academy for NJROTC cadets from schools in Georgia and Florida at the Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) Mulberry Cove Marina.
The NJROTC area 12 cadets range from rising sophomores to rising seniors. There were 38 new cadets and three returning cadets, called cadres, at this year's academy. The cadets stayed at the Navy Gateway Inns and Suites and ate at the Flight Line CafÃ© throughout the week.
The students gathered at Edward H. White High School June 19 to participate in a swimming test. All students must pass a swim test in case they ended up in the water while sailing their boats.
As an instructor stated, "The cadets had to get in the pool with a life-vest and then take it off and tread water for about 30 minutes. This just verified that if anything were to happen when they were on the sailboats, and their life-vest were unfastened, the cadets could still hold on until help arrived."
The cadets come from 22 different schools and each school sent one to four representatives. Most of these cadets have no experience sailing in any capacity. At the end of the week the students receive a class B skipper license.
"This license allows the cadets to rent sailboats from marinas and sail, without a professional crew," said the Officer-in-Charge Cmdr. Patrick Thurman.
The academy week is split in two: classroom time on Tuesday and Wednesday and sailing time Thursday through Saturday.
In the classroom, the cadets learned many things about the sailboat and sailing such as knot tying, points of sail, and parts of a sailboat.
All students were required to pass a written exam and demonstrate their knot tying abilities before getting into a sailboat.
When the cadets arrived at the Mulberry Cove Marina June 22, they performed morning colors and then went over last minute reviews of knot tying and the nomenclature of a sailboat. They also had a demonstration of the parts of the sailboat and watched how to raise the sails.
"I have never sailed before, so it is exciting to go sailing and get my license, but living in Georgia means I might not be able to use it much," stated one of the cadets.
Over the course of the morning the cadets, instructors, and cadres loaded onto safety boats and eight sailboats to gain experience sailing before their practical sailing exam.
"The training on the water consists of man overboard, towing procedures, tying up to buoys and other basic life skills of sailing," said Thurman. "Our plan is to have two sessions in the water all three days of sailing, weather permitting."
A cadre from Area 12 said, "I loved this program last year and I already had some experience sailing, so coming back this year to show the new cadets how to sail is fun."
"Sailing is something that is life long. You can still be sailing when you are 70 years old," added Thurman. "It's a great skill to have which is why this is such a great program."