Every year in June, the state fairgrounds in St. Paul, Minnesota, fill with over 10,000 classic cars and hot rods. As you stroll around this event, one thing becomes clear: the car owners are very open and encouraging to everyone, especially younger people, who are interested in the cars and the hobby itself. Why? Because the classic car demographic is aging. And the only way to keep the classic car hobby thriving is to get younger people to participate, thus encouraging the next generation of gear heads.
The same situation applies in our maritime world. Most of us knowledgeable about navigation are seasoned sailors, and we have navigation skills that the next generation of sailors needs. For instance – an alarming percentage of younger sailors don’t know how to navigate using a printed chart. Instead, they rely solely on GPS and oftentimes don’t understand traditional navigation skills. And without proper navigation skills, sailors of any age can get into real trouble.
At OceanGrafix, one way we’re helping to address this issue is by supporting the Junior Mates program at the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association (BHCFA) in New Jersey. They offer a voluntary summer school for youths 13 – 17 who want to learn to be mates on commercial charter boats. The course runs for eight weeks each summer and is taught by leading charter boat professionals. Students learn knot tying, navigation, boat handling, tackle and boat maintenance, weather, safety, first aid, and all of the other skills that will educate a sailor. Recently, the BHCFA decided to offer their more advanced students the opportunity to learn how to read and use a nautical chart. OceanGrafix was happy to donate the charts they needed because we know that the ability to read printed charts is a key component of boating safety.
Just like the car enthusiasts are building the next generation of gear heads, the BHCFA is working hard to encourage the next generation of sailors. At OceanGrafix, we like to do the same. What experience and knowledge can you pass along?