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San-Cap America’s Boating Club honored for civic service

By Staff | Feb 21, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Roger Heider, a member of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America’s Boating Club, demonstrates nautical knots for a group a sixth-graders at The Sanibel School.

A Sanibel-Captiva organization has been named as one of 10 recipients for a national award.

Formerly known as the Sanibel Captiva Sail and Power Squadron, the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America’s Boating Club will be recognized on Feb. 22 by the U.S. Power Squadron in the Boat Owners Association of The United States’ 2017 Distinguished Civic Service Award Recognition program.

One of the most prestigious awards that a squadron or district can achieve, it recognizes community visibility and service through a variety of local activities, according to the U.S. Power Squadron.

Nominees are judged in the areas of short-term community activity and long-term partnership projects, promotion of boating safety in community events, boating safety and USPS presentations, and more.

With about 300 members, the local chapter covers everything from offering free vessel safety checks and teaching youth about boating, to assisting area marine units and and providing boating courses.

PHOTO PROVIDED Marge Lieblein, a member of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America’s Boating Club, works with sixth-graders at The Sanibel School as part of the Boat Smart course.

“It’s all the volunteerism that we do,” Commander Pat Schmidt said of the recognition.

“We do a lot of of volunteering on the islands,” she added.

The club learned about the honor in early January. This week, the U.S. Power Squadron will hold its 2018 Awards Banquet at the Rosen Centre in Orlando, where all 10 recipients will be recognized.

One example of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter’s work is a partnership with The Sanibel School, where members teach a Boat Smart course to all the sixth-graders. This has been going on for 10 years.

“They really learn everything,” Schmidt said of the program.

PHOTO PROVIDED Dick Squitieri, a member of the Sanibel-Captiva chapter of America’s Boating Club, helps a group a sixth-graders at The Sanibel School with their lines.

Overseen by club member Marti Squitieri, it introduces the students to local waters from the perspective of a boat owner and covers a broad range of topics. They gain nautical knowledge and skills in areas like using emergency equipment, docking, reading area water charts and more.

At the end, the students can take an exam to earn their boating certification.

For the general public, vessel safety checks are available for free.

“One of our members will come out and inspect your boat,” club member Jay Brown said.

Members also volunteer their time to participate in SERAT, or the Squadron Emergency Response Assistance Team. The group of about two dozen can assist the U.S. Coast Guard, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and others with on-the-water incidents.

“Our boaters are trained and work with the city,” Schmidt said.

In addition, the Sanibel-Captiva chapter offers a variety of courses and classes for a cost. A couple times a year, it provides the America’s Boating Course, an online safety course and license test.

“You understand all the basics of boating,” Brown said.

The club also offers advanced courses that cover topics like seamanship and coastal navigation, along with elective classes, including marine electrical systems, cruise planning and engine maintenance.

There are also half-day seminars on things like tides and currents and paddling smart.

Brown noted that there are twice yearly educational cruises.

“We do an array of things,” Schmidt said.

Recently, the U.S. Power Squadron rebranded itself as America’s Boating Club.

“What we want people to do is to identify with the fact that we’re a boating club,” Brown said. “People thought we were a Coast Guard auxiliary or a paramilitary organization or something.”

The club is open to both boat owners and non-owners.

“This is an organization for everyone,” Schmidt said. “But you must love the water.”

The club meets on the third Tuesday of every month. The meetings typically involve a speaker and spotlight a non-profit organization. There are also monthly cruises, potlucks and social events.

“We try to offer activities for everyone,” she said.

“We’re serious about boating education and safety, but like having fun while we do it,” she added.

For more information, contact 239-985-9472 or patandmikeschmidt@gmail.com.

Information can also be found at www.usps.org/localusps/sancap.