Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society helps kids learn to sail
Commodore Joan Perkett thinks the future of sailing lies with the younger generation, and to ensure that it lives on both competatively and recreationally, she said it’s absolutely crucial that young people carry on the tradition.
“We believe in the sport of sailing,” Perkett said. “But it’s dying and it needs the energy of our young people to keep it alive.”
Perkett and the members of the Caloosahatchee Marching and Chowder Society – the oldest sailing club in Lee County, and in fact many counties south of Pinellas – are trying to practice what they preach, by offering scholarships to kids who want to learn all about sailing.
Members of the club sponsored children like Kelly and Luke Turner, paying their way through Edison Sailing Center of North Fort Myers.
Candice and Rick Theile sponsored the Turner brothers, who Candice said took to the sport with the type keen interest and enthusiasm that will ensure sailing lives on for generations.
Luke Turner, 12, still has several more days of classes left.
So far, he said the experience has been amazing, and can’t wait to maybe become a member of the Chowder Society one day.
“I’ve had so much fun, and learned a lot so far,” Turner said. “And I can’t wait to one day join the race!”
Turner is referring to the club’s annual Summerset Regatta, held off the coast of Fort Myers Beach.
Started 45 years ago, the regatta used to sailboat race from the Fort Myers Beach Pier to the Naples Pier. But according to past Commodore Steve Romaine, the competition has remained a distance race, but now stretches to a marker 24 miles off shore.
Last year 65 boats took part. This year, Romaine and the rest of the club are hoping for the same turnout.
“Summerset brings our club together,” Romaine said. “The summer is over but it’s the start of our racing season.”
The feeling of commanding your own sailboat, of being all alone on the water, is so empowering that Perkett said must be shared with the kids who want to learn how to sail.
That feeling of empowerment is another part of the driving force behind the scholarships, a program that Perkett said will continue next year.
“You’re all by yourself out there,” Perkett said. “It’s only them and the water. It’s a great experience.”