Sixth Graders Learn Sailing Skills

A group of Gulfport sixth graders tested their "sea legs" Wednesday afternoon while they learned basic sailing skills and some history about the Mississippi Sound.

The Mississippi Sound Maritime Historical Foundation sponsors a course that begins in the classroom and ends with a trip aboard a Biloxi schooner. Captain Carol Bramblett gave the youngsters a brief history lesson before they hoisted the sails.

"There was more seafood canned and shipped out of Biloxi than anywhere in the world. This boat is made out of cypress and juniper. She was built by Bill Holland."

Bright sun and a brisk breeze greeted the sixth grade crew as they sailed the Sound. The lesson was laid back and hands on.

"Y'all gotta watch and make sure you don't get higher than this part," yelled a deck hand overseeing the sail raising.

Lifting the sails was an early test of their muscles and teamwork. It's tough being a deck hand.

"Keep pulling!"

Courtney Hayes enjoyed her time behind the schooner steering wheel.

"We get to learn a lot of stuff about the boat. And we get to like, we've got hands-on things to do."

Captain Carol directed the students as they gripped the steering wheel.

"You want to hold it on that big building right there. If your bow starts swinging to port, you want to turn to starboard."

David Andre helped organize the trip.  He's executive director of the Mississippi Sound Maritime Historical Foundation.

"We've taught them in the classroom of the Mississippi Sound's geography and origin. The importance of sail to early Mississippi. And now we're giving them a small dose of sailing on a traditional vessel."

Davia Gilkey couldn't wait for his turn behind the wheel. Steering a schooner can be a little intimidating.

"Starboard is the right and port is the left."

The youngsters are quick to learn. And they make it look so easy.

"Very quickly they pick it up. They really do. They love it. We saw dolphins the last trip and they really enjoyed that. So, it's just being out with nature," said Captain Carol.

Out with nature and away from the classroom.

Kaelin Jacobs called it a very good day.

"Oh yeah! It's a good experience. And you're just off from school. That's good."