The Community Boating Center (CBC) is growing their Veterans on the Bay program, designed to help Whatcom County military veterans engage with the natural world, develop sailing skills, and gain confidence to safely enjoy our gorgeous backyard. 

On Thursday Evenings, veterans can join Captain Mike Reed (CBC volunteer and Corinthian Yacht Club member) aboard his Islander 36 for an evening of sailboat racing on the water. Those onboard will have a chance to participate in the thrill of racing around the course.

No sailing experience is necessary but all participants must be able to follow direction. 

Here are some comments from program participants:

“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 saltwater 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 two 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.” 

The Vets on the Bay program is a culmination of two years of effort by CBC board member Dirk Vermeeren and Corinthian Yacht Club member and CBC volunteer Mike Reed. 

The Vets on the Bay program is free for Veterans and their immediate families. Veterans also receive a 50% discount on season passes, and all CBC programs have scholarships available. The CBC, Dirk and Mike are looking forward to expanding the program and further engaging the local veterans community. 

For more information, visit the Community Boating Center website.