Summer campers hit the water aboard Biloxi schooner

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum is hosting another Sea & Sail Camp this week. A group of summer campers spent the morning aboard a Biloxi schooner.

More than two dozen aspiring young sailors pulled away from the schooner pier under overcast skies Monday morning. As the Glenn Swetman slid smoothly into the sound, campers helped hoist the sails.

"Give it all you got!" one of the counselors instructed.

"Man this is fun! I feel like I live on this boat," said one of the excited campers.

Desmond Ford gave the ropes a workout.

"You pull it and you cannot let go of the sail will fall. And you've got to do it fast before the wind starts to blow," said Ford.

"Ahoy captain!" said one young camper, "I think that's it boys."

"You use three people and they all pull. You just pull it and it's got to go up sixty feet," said Noah Gazzo, whose brother was a deckhand aboard the schooner.

The Swetman's sails stretched out to catch the Biloxi breeze.

"Right at 2500 square feet for all three sails we put up today. They just act like wings on an airplane. They actually pull us; sailboats don't get pushed until we're going downwind," explained Captain Chris Breeland.

After helping hoist and position the sails, the young mariners took turns at the wheel.

"I liked driving. It was very fun, 'cause we learned all about the boat," said Cassidy Starling.

"Turn it back to starboard a couple spokes," the captain directed, as another youngster grabbed the wheel.

The summer campers catch on quickly when they take the helm, even if they don't have all the sailing lingo just right.

"It wasn't that hard. But you had to learn which is port and starburst. And they you have to steer from it," said Brittany Beleske

"Well, when you turned to port, it was pretty hard. But starboard, pretty easy," said Ethan Harriel.

This adventure at sea was an introduction to sailing and a bit of a history lesson. But for the kids, it was mostly just summertime fun.

"Because I feel like I'm a captain's pirate. Arrggh!!" said one of the campers, before bursting into laughter.

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