July 15, 2020

Dirk Vermeeren & Bryan Rust
Community Boating Center &
425-246-7007 & 360-714-8891

Community Boating Center Back on Bellingham Bay

The Community Boating Center (CBC) is thrilled to be back on the water fulfilling its mission of fostering small-watercraft education, access, safe recreation, and marine stewardship, after putting in place careful COVID-19 safety protocols developed under state and Whatcom County health guidance. 

The CBC launched a new pilot program designed to help Whatcom County military veterans engage with the natural world, learn skills, and gain the confidence to safely enjoy our gorgeous backyard. Two years of work by CBC board member Dirk Vermeeren and Corinthian Yacht Club board member and CBC volunteer Mike Reed came together in a beautiful daylong sail on Bellingham Bay. Mike volunteered his 36-foot sailboat, his American Sailing Association instructor certification, and his time to take four veterans on the first Vets on the Water outing. The CBC, Dirk and Mike are looking forward to expanding the program and further engaging the local veterans community. Some of the participants comments –

  • "Walking onto the dock, I could feel the anxiety squeezing my chest and in those muscles at the base of my neck. I was a Naval Aviator and being this close to salt water is an unnatural act. Mike gave us a thorough safety brief and answered my ‘dumb-guy’ questions and we got underway on the diesel. Only after we killed the diesel and unfurled the Jib did I realize that my chest had expanded and my shoulders relaxed. We were on the water for about 5 hours. They were 5 hours of focus on given tasks, but also 5 hours of complete peacefulness. It is hard to describe but probably easy to experience... just get out on the water."
  • "I have been working with counselors at the Bellingham Veteran's Center for 2 and a half years. They have helped me to accept that having PTSD doesn't mean that I am weak or broken or less than what I think I should be. The Vet Center helps me to realize that I am everything I want to be today. Sailing really put me into the right here and right now. Sensing how the boat is moving through the water, seeing the tell-tales and shifting heading and sail settings to optimize speed through the water really pulls you into the present. The present is a place without anger of the past or fear of the future. That is a good place for me to be."

CBC youth camps have also re-launched, focusing the attention of an enthusiastic group of kids on skill-building, community engagement, team and leadership growth, confidence building, safety awareness, and fun. The kids loved trying out sailing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding, building a strong foundation and the desire to fuel future learning. Camps run rain or shine, and activities are adjusted to fit weather conditions. All camps are led by CPR/First Aid/AED certified instructors who have extensive experience in boating and leading youth groups. Campers learn basic skills in kayaking, sailing, and safe boating, with the goal of creating a strongly positive experience with small boats that stays with them for a lifetime.

For more information on youth camps, adult lessons, and COVID safety protocols, visit the Community Boating Center website. 

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism
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Phone: 360-671-3990

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