A ten-year-old tradition is rejuvenated as the Long Beach Marinas Boat Owners Association teams up with Jordan High School to give students the ride of their lives.
by BOA Executive Vice President Carl Kirnbauer
About 10 years ago, David Braunstein, a teacher at Long Beach’s Jordan High School, instituted an outreach sailboat sailing program for the students. The idea was to give the students a meaningful experience in a totally new realm as well as impart some basic sailboat sailing skills. The Jordan mascot is the Panthers, hence the Panthers at Sea designation. The program terminated when David Braunstein retired about 5 years ago.
I had been involved, as a skipper, with the Panthers program from its inception. In Fall 2007, I decided to involve my organization, the Long Beach Marinas Boat Owners Association (BOA), in resurrecting the Panthers. I was fortunate in being able to contact David Braunstein who was happy to see the program return. He provided total support and guidance. This was invaluable since we were very late in getting the program off the ground and had to hustle to get things together timely.
Lizet Mendoza, math teacher at Jordan HS, agreed to take on the daunting task of being our Jordan HS contact. Lizet was entirely new to this kind of function and performed well above and beyond the call of duty. After a multitude of late hours, many Steering Committee meetings and then more meetings with Skippers and 1st mates, the program came together.
Two school buses were required to transport the 80 students and 10 chaperones from Jordan HS to the Shoreline Marina located near the Pike area of Downtown Long Beach. LBUSD did not have the funds to provide the buses so Supervisor Don Knabe generously provided one bus while the ACE program at Jordan HS provided the other bus.
The students arrived at Shoreline Marina at 9:00 AM on Saturday May 10, 2008. Mark Sandoval, Long Beach Marine Bureau Manager, had provided full cooperation and support of his Shoreline Marina staff. Laurie Little, Supervisor of the Shoreline Marina, provided Gangway GG for docking the sailboats, made slip assignments, emailed all skippers with their designated slip assignments, and in general provided an outstanding level of support.
The students picked up their box lunches after off-loading from the buses. All box lunches, water, snacks and sunscreen were provided by BOA with the support of the Albertson’s and Trader Joe’s located near PCH and Second Street in Long Beach.
The 1st Mate from each boat came to the staging area to pick up the students. A typical boat compliment was 3 students, the 1st mate and the Skipper. Larger boats would have 4 or perhaps 5 students, a chaperone or two, the 1st Mate and the Skipper.
After the students boarded the boats, put on their life jackets and received an orientation of the boat from the Skipper, the boats departed from Shoreline Marina during the time frame of 10:00 to 10:30 AM. A photo shoot was arranged outside White’s Island at 11:00 AM with powerboats from Shoreline Yacht Club, Seal Beach Yacht Club and BOA providing the photo vessels. After the photo shoot, the Skippers sailed and trained at their discretion. All students received hands-on experience on the helm and sail setting procedures. In addition, all students participated in live (and correct) Radio-Telephone procedures communicating with Panthers Watch which was hosted by the Shoreline Yacht Club. The students hopefully developed a heighten respect for the sea and the environment, learned some basic sailing skills as well as training in teamwork. Most importantly, a heightened sense of self-respect and accomplishment.
The boats were scheduled to return and dock by 3:00 PM. The students boarded their buses with the expected ETA at Jordan HS at 4:00 PM. From the happy chatter and smiling faces, it appears that the students enjoyed themselves and received a valuable learning experience. All were enthusiastic in wanting to return next year for another Panthers at Sea.
We at BOA are deeply grateful for the total support and cooperation that we received from Jordan HS, the Long Beach Marine Bureau and the participating Long Beach Yacht Clubs. BOA intends to sponsor the Panthers program annually and in perpetuity.
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