Articles

Boating Education In Connecticut Schools

September 7, 2019


[MUSIC PLAYING] JERRY DESMOND: Hi, and
welcome to Better Boating in Connecticut. My name is Jerry Desmond. I’m your host today. And we’re bringing
you a show today where we’re going to
visit some schools here in Connecticut that actually
do boat building as one of their opportunities
for their students. And one of the schools
here in Connecticut that do an exceptional job
is Guilford High School, here in Guilford, Connecticut,
right near our shoreline. And I’m here with Dave
Hackett and Cara Mulqueen, two of the teachers–
instructors– here that oversee the students
you see behind me in the boat building process. So maybe for a second
I’ll tap in to you, Dave, you could tell us a little
bit about the program, a little bit about the
boat building process. DAVE HACKETT: A few
years ago, because we live on the shoreline, I
developed a boat building course that was
strictly for that. But then we thought
about combining that with other disciplines. So this class that
we teach now is a combined
inter-disciplinary class with combining
English and Maritime history with boat building and
Cara can speak more to that. CARA MULQUEEN: We
set up the class so that it’s a
metaphor of the ship and the sailor and the sea. So we study Maritime
literature in combination with the process of building
boats and designing boats. And this is our
fifth year and it seems to be going really well. It’s one of the most popular
classes at Guilford High School. JERRY DESMOND: And that makes
it a little unique, too, because you’ve combined
literature or English with the boat building
process, so it becomes an academic
experience, as well as a practical experience
of building boats. DAVE HACKETT: And there’s
a lot of carryover when you look at risk management. We talked about the Bounty– the present-day Bounty–
and when they went out to sea, what was important,
should they have had more life jackets, should they have had
the generators all working before they sank? CARA MULQUEEN: So
it’s a nice connection with things in history and then
some of the practical things with boating and boating safety. JERRY DESMOND: And that’s
great and Dave, also, you are one of our instructors here. You teach the actual
boating license class here in this school, as
many of our schools do, and we’re always looking
to grow that program. And that’s coming along well and
we thank you for all your help there as well. So as we move along
here, I just wanted to have the students
tell us their name and a little bit about
their boating experience, give them a chance
to say something quick about their
life in boating, and I’ll start with you. ANTHONY: All right, my name’s
Anthony and before this class, I’ve only ever been really
kayaking and paddleboarding. ADDISON: Hi, my name’s
Addison and since I was little I’ve been sailing. AUSTIN: Hi, my name’s Austin
and I’ve been on boats for pretty much my whole life. ERIC: My name’s Eric
and I don’t boat. SAMIR: My name’s Samir. I like to go out on kayaks and
canoes, primarily for fishing. JOSH: My name is Josh. I have been powerboating for
about three or four years now. ERIC: My name’s Eric. I’ve been boating
for about two years. SAM: My name’s Sam
and I primarily kayak. AUSTIN: My name is Austin. I grew up on the water
and I pretty much live on a boat in summer. DANIELLE: My name is Danielle. I’ve been boating
since I was little and we’d go sailing
and powerboating. JOHN: My name’s John. I primarily kayak, but
getting into some skiffs now, building one, so
that’s exciting. HANK: My name is Hank. I mostly just canoe and kayak. MACKENZIE: My name is Mackenzie
and I’ve grown up on the water. TIM: My name’s Tim and
I’m building a kayak. DENNY: My name’s
Denny and mostly I just go boating for fishing. JERRY DESMOND: That’s great. OK, so as we see,
a lot of you here have an interest in boating
already that brings you into this class. So maybe we could take a minute
and talk about the process. How In general, how
does this process go as far as boat building goes? Do you want to
address that, Dave? DAVE HACKETT: Sure, we start
with them picking a boat. And they have to follow through
the plan and go through, but we’ve gotten
to the point where I can let them build a
number of different boats. We have skiffs. We have kayaks. This year, we have
four paddleboards and we’ve got two hydroplanes
in the works, as well. So they can do quite
a variety of boats. And the process is
always taking the plan and going through step-by-step
from a large loft of it on the floor, and then
cutting out the pieces and going through. And they’re about 3/4
of the way through. You can see this
skiff has taken shape. This kayak has taken shape. And we look forward to–
we do a launch day in June at Lake Waramaug and we take
them all out for the day and test them. And it’s a lot of fun. JERRY DESMOND: Thanks, Dave. The other thing I just
wanted to mention quick, if you all are working on
taking the boating course and going through
the process, have you all heard about the new Safe
Waterskiing Endorsement law? You have? All of you know that, today, you
have to be 16 to drive a boat and pull a skier,
where it used to be you could be 12 and
operate all the boats? Do any of you do any
water skiing or tubing? You do? So you’ve been
telling your friends and telling your family
a little bit about that? That’s good. So when it comes to that– in your class, you’ve learned
all about life jackets, I’m sure, and about the
importance of those. We’ve had a lot of people
we’ve lost not wearing life jackets over the years. You guys are all aware of that. Spread that word around
a little bit too. That’s good. So with your skills,
here, I’m just going to select some people– maybe I’ll start with you. The skills that you learn
in this boat building, what do you plan on using
those skills for going forward? Is there something
you plan on doing? DANIELLE: Well I didn’t
know how to woodwork at all before this class, so the
whole process of making my boat and learning how to use all
the tools and the machines has really helped me
learn how to woodwork, so hopefully in the future,
I can use that for something. JERRY DESMOND: That’s
great, yeah, it’s not just the boat building skill. It’s also about learning
how to build in general and that’s very
helpful, obviously, in life, down the line– whether it’s your
home or anything else you might be building. How about you? JOSH: I’m actually pursuing
a career in the fire service, so having a general
knowledge of hand tools and just carpentry
in general, is good to be more comfortable
with working with tools and working with
your hands in order to further your education. JERRY DESMOND: That’s great. You’re going to go
into a service– it’ll be a very valuable
service– that’s awesome. So in addition to that, we
talked about life jackets. We talked about the new
Waterskiing Endorsement law. What are some of the
precautions that you guys take– do we have powerboaters here? You are, one. And how many people
are paddleboarders? You are, you are. So I’m going to start with you. I’ll come to you
in a little bit. What are some of the
things you do to stay safe when you’re
paddleboarding out there? ANTHONY: Well, first
thing I do is tell people I’m going to be going. It’s really important
that you let people know you’re going
because if you just disappear, and no one knows you’re boating,
then if something happens, it can be really devastating. After that, make sure you
have your proper equipment like your life
preserver, in case you need a flashlight to signal
people, just general stuff like that. JERRY DESMOND: The first one you
mentioned was the Float Plan– officially known
as a Float Plan– and you leave that
with the family. That’s very
important, especially as young students, all of you
are very anxious, obviously, to go out and have fun. Sometimes Mom and
Dad aren’t around. You need to let
them all know where are you going to be because
so many times you’re anxious to go out there,
but if something happens, you do want to know
where someone is. And those life jackets, you’re
wearing that all the time, I’m sure, on that paddleboard. Who else, let me see, who
is a powerboater here? There you are. So what are some of
the things that you do to stay safe on the water? AUSTIN: Well you have to
make sure you have a life jacket for every person in the
boat, some signaling device or sound making device,
you want to make sure you have fuel, obviously. JERRY DESMOND: When
you have friends– do you have friends that come
out on the boat with you? When they come on
board, do you do any type of briefing
and telling them a little bit about where
the safety equipment is and how they work on
your boat when they come? What do you do to
keep them safe? AUSTIN: Well, most of my friends
are also like fellow boaters, so they know how to work
the life jacket and stuff, but obviously, if I brought
someone that was never on a boat, you’ve got to tell
them how to work a life jacket. JERRY DESMOND: Very
good, OK, thank you. So can you tell us a
little bit– maybe Cara, you could tell us a little
bit about the boats here. When will these
boats be completed and what happens to these
boats after they’re done? CARA MULQUEEN: Well,
theoretically, the boats will be completed before June 1. And the last part of
it– the finishing part– is really exciting. We received a grant
from West Marine to help us out with some of
our boating finishing products. So that’s exciting. So they name the boats
and part of the final exam from the English side of it, is
they present their boats to us before they set
sail on the water. And they tell us a little bit
about the development of them, why they were named
what they were named, and it’s really a fantastic
day and a nice closer for the school year. JERRY DESMOND: And
it’s a fun activity. It’s a great activity. And you’ve got a great
set-up here, great. It looks like all
your boats– you’ve got several boats in development
here and that’s wonderful. I want to thank all of you
for having us here today and exposing and
showing your program and how it works and all that. We’re going to be going
to visit another school right after this. And so before we go and
before we take a break– we’re going to take a public
service announcement break here in a second– but before we go, because of
the importance of those life jackets, maybe we can
give everybody a one last “Always wear your life jacket”? What do you think? Can we do that? OK, let’s do that. So 1, 2, 3– ALL: Always wear
you life jacket. JERRY DESMOND: Bye, bye. Little wave. We’re going. Thank you. SPEAKER 1: We love it. SPEAKER 2: And it’s so much fun. SPEAKER 3: It’s exciting. SPEAKER 4: [SPEAKING SPANISH] SPEAKER 3: Why do I have
to wear a life jacket? SPEAKER 5: We wear
it to be safe. SPEAKER 2: I’ve got mine on. SPEAKER 1: We’re teaching
our kids about safe boating. SPEAKER 6: [SPEAKING SPANISH] SPEAKER 4: Hey. SPEAKER 5: We all
love this life. NARRATOR: Wear it
and love the life. This message brought to you
by the National Safe Boating Council. JERRY DESMOND: Welcome back to
Better Boating in Connecticut. As I said earlier,
we’re visiting schools that are
doing boat building programs within the school
and educating students on boats safety. We’ve come down the 95
corridor and we’re down at Hand High School in
Madison, Connecticut. And we’re here today to
talk to some of the students here who also have a
boat building program. And first, starting
off, I think I’d like to let the students here
say their name and a little bit about their boating experience. Maybe we could do that and
I’ll let you take the mic and kind of pass it along. So just pass it along. Give your first name and– JEREMY: I’m Jeremy
and I’ve boating for pretty much my whole life. ZACH: I’m Zach and I just
go out fishing sometimes. That’s about it. BRENNAN: I’m Brennan and I
took this class because I love working with my hands. JOHN: I’m John. I’ve been boating for six years. ADAM: I’m Adam and I both boat
all the time in the summer. EMILY: I’m Emily and
I have no experience. VINCENT: I’m Vincent
and I love water. JAMES: I’m James
and I like to sail. KYLE: I’m Kyle and I’ve been
boating for my whole life. NICK: I’m Nick and I’ve
basically just grown up around the water my whole life. CHASE: I’m Chase. I’ve grown up on
boats and I love it. JERRY DESMOND: Thanks, guys. We just came from
Guilford High School and now we’re here at Hand. It’s pretty competitive
between the two schools, is that fair to say,
all your sports? I’m sure in the boat
building world, that might be a little bit going on, too. They’re both programs
that are trying to feed off of each other. So I want to first start
off for a minute talking with Brian Amenta and
I got Kim Connor here. Brian, can you tell
us a little bit about the history of the
program– how it started and how it works? BRIAN AMENTA: Well
basically this program started when I started
working at Hand High School in the late ’90s. So I wrote the
curriculum as part of a graduate course in
technology education, and then introduced it. And then from there,
it just took off. Way back in– I think ’98, ’99– I contacted, what was DEP at
the time, which is now DEEP, and got certified to teach
the safety boating part of it and introduce that into
the curriculum, also. And ever since then,
I think we’ve probably built over 100 canoes and
skiffs and kayaks and things that you see laying around here. JERRY DESMOND: Yeah,
you mentioned also that you do the boating safety
class here under our umbrella here. And you teach the licensing
course here, if you will. And that’s great. We are always looking
to expand to schools– to having teachers in
there become certified to teach the course and give
opportunities for the students to get their certificates
right in the school. Kim, you get assigned
to certain programs around the school
and certain classes. This is your first time
in boating, so how’s your experience been here? How do you like being down here? KIM CONNOR: I think
it’s a lot of fun. I like doing more active
things rather than sitting around all day. My family, as well, has
grown up on the water. My son goes to Maine
Maritime Academy and so this is fun for me. JERRY DESMOND: That’s
great and this is a fun class for the students, too. And they’re learning a lot of
skills in this class, as well, as well as safety. Yeah so maybe you’ll
take another second and you could tell
us again, Brian, a little bit about the process. Can you tell us about what
happens during the process from beginning to end here– just a few things on
how it goes along? BRIAN AMENTA: As far as
the building of the boats or the class itself? JERRY DESMOND: The
building of the boats. BRIAN AMENTA:
Basically, what they do is, I have a series
of plans that they can choose from, from kayaks all
the way up to a 16 foot skiff. And they choose whichever
boat that they want to build. And then we put together
a materials list and we go back and
forth looking at costs and those kinds of things. And then from there, we
start the lofting process. So if you look, most of
the boats that we build are out of plywood because of
the short time that we have. So we only have 60 days to
work with, so they lay out or they loft up all their
designs on the plywood. Then we start cutting them
out and then basically get to the point where they’re an
actually– a finished boat. And if you look around, you
can see normal lumberyard type materials– so two-by-fours
and plywood and mahogany decking and deck screws. And what that does is
it keeps the cost down. But we still use the same boat
building process, if you will. So that’s a little bit about
how that comes together. JERRY DESMOND: That’s great. Now, when you finish these
boats, do you launch them? Do you test them? What happens to these
boats when you’re done? BRIAN AMENTA: Basically,
the kids take them home. So we have a limited time. We only have a 60 day course. So we’re on a trimester schedule
instead of a normal semester schedule. If we have time, we’ve put
them in the local Bower farm or we have a little– kind of a– pond in
front of the school. Sometimes we do that,
but generally, it’s just kind of a rush to
get the boat finished. JERRY DESMOND: When we were
talking earlier with Guilford, they do have a session where
they put theirs in the water as well. That might not be
a bad opportunity to have the two boat
building classes in some kind of competition. So you never know. Just for a second, let me
just pick out a few people and ask a few questions. What is it you would hope
to take away from this or what do you take
away from this class? What kind of skills or
opportunities or things– what do you take away from this
class besides producing a boat? ADAM: Just like learning
with all the tools and stuff to build the boat. And then the safe
boating course, obviously, gives us our license
to be able to use the boats. JERRY DESMOND:
And how about you? NICK: I’m kind of the same way. This is really the first
Tech Ed class I really took. So a lot of just
hands-on learning that is basic necessities you
need to build anything. JERRY DESMOND: So you’re
gaining skills here, not just for boat building,
but for other skills as well, for building as well? Are all of you familiar with
the new Safe Waterskiing Endorsement law. You know how old you got
to be now to drive a boat and pull a skier? ALL: 16 JERRY DESMOND: 16, very good,
so you’re getting there. And that’s all new stuff,
started October 1, 2015. Do you guys do any
skiing or towing? Do you do any that? You have friends that do that? So if you’re out in the water– do you have a boat? When you guys go
out in that boat, what do you do to
stay safe out there? What are some of the safety
precautions you take? VINCENT: No drugs and alcohol. Obey the outlaws in a
No-Wake Zone, not too fast. Always wear a life
jacket when you’re waterskiing or
wakeboarding or tubing, any dangerous activities. You don’t want to
have any incidents. Other than that– I’m not really the driver. My friend is, but he obeys a lot
of the laws and he stays safe. JERRY DESMOND: Who
does have a boat here? Who has a boat that they drive– family boat– you
got family– you do? So when you go out
on that boat, do you have friends that
go out with you? CHASE: Yes of course. JERRY DESMOND: And what do you
do when those friends come on? Do you talk to them about
safety before you go out? CHASE: Yeah, I mean,
most of my friends have been going out
with me and my family for a long time and some of
them are boaters themselves. So if they haven’t been
out with me before, we’ll talk about some
safety precautions– where the life jackets are, and
maybe, if we’re wearing them, just put them on at the dock. Maybe I’ll show them how to use
the boat in case of emergency– something happens
to me– just so they get a general idea
of how to move it, if I fall overboard
or something. JERRY DESMOND: So
safety is obviously a very important
thing in boating and that’s one of the things
that we do as boating safety down in Old Lyme. And so I guess in leaving
here, before we leave, I want to say, thank
you for having us, the DEEP, here at your school. I hope that this class has
excellent boats that come out, like they do every year,
since the program started. And there’s one
thing I always have everybody say before we go. We do a little blurt
out to the public and tell them “always
wear their life jacket”. So let’s do that on
the count of three, let’s let everybody know that
we’ll give a little point. We’ll talk about that. One of the most important things
we can do in boating is what? ALL: Always wear
your life jacket. JERRY DESMOND: Very good. Thank you very much. [MUSIC PLAYING]

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