Nauticus Receives Major Gift for New Sailing Center
The Board of Directors for Nauticus-The National Maritime Center Foundation is pleased to announce that Mrs. Jane Batten has pledged a charitable gift of $1.5 million to support operations and programming for Sail Nauticus, a Community Sailing Center on the downtown Norfolk waterfront, set to open in the summer of 2013.
Modeled on Community Sailing Centers in Baltimore, Boston, and New York City, Sail Nauticus will teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts such as nautical, physical, and environmental science, and will expose students to the port-related functions of the military and local industries. Mrs. Batten’s contributions will include scholarship funding for a year-round after-school program for students with a demonstrated financial need. Eligibility for the scholarship program will be contingent upon a consistent school attendance record.
Captain J. William Cofer, Chairman of the Foundation Board, said, “We are excited to be able to provide safe and affordable access to the waterfront to the citizens of Hampton Roads, especially to children and families who have never had the chance to experience being on the water.” Cofer also thinks this Center is long overdue. “Norfolk is the only major port city on the East Coast without a Community Sailing Center, and Nauticus is uniquely positioned to operate one locally. Our vision for this project is to provide a meaningful and transformational educational experience to area students, which has long been a priority for Mrs. Batten. Her generous support will significantly impact the next generation entering our growing maritime workforce. ”
The Community Sailing Center will feature Harbor 20 sailboats, fixed keel boats with small motors, which can be safely maneuvered out of the active shipping lanes and into more recreational areas of the river and bay. The Center will also take over operations of the schooner Virginia, and will incorporate the tall ship into its STEM-based curriculum and summer camp programming.
Additionally, the facility will be open to the general public after 5 p.m. on weekdays as well as on weekends. Anyone who has been certified to use the boats may rent them during this time. Cofer notes that “the Virginia and all the Harbor 20 boats will stay right here in Hampton Roads, so beginning next summer, Norfolk’s downtown waterfront will really come alive, with lots of colorful sails going up and down the river and many people coming downtown to enjoy all the waterfront activities.”