Many captains, fishermen and shipbuilders who have been raised on Saaremaa have got to know the sea primarily thanks to yachting. The Saaremaa Maritime Sports Society, which will soon celebrate its 100th birthday has had a significant role in this.
Paljud Saaremaalt sirgunud kaptenid, kalurid ja laevaehitajad on merega tuttavaks saanud tänu purjespordile, kusjuures kandev roll selles on olnud saare vanimal spordiklubil, peagi saja-aastaseks saaval Saaremaa Merispordi Seltsil.
The proximity of the sea teaches
Five years ago, cooperation started between the Maritime Sports Society, the Saaremaa Sports School and the Kuressaare Upper Secondary School with basic yachting training launched in primary grades. As a part of the physical education study programme, children can now learn the basic principles of yachting from training instructor Kristiina Klaas. “It is an alternative that stems from the specific features and possibilities of our region. Unlike children in south Estonia, we mostly cannot ski, we sail,” admits Upper Secondary School physical education teacher, Juhan Kolk.
In five years, more than 350 children have been able to try yachting. How many of them will get more closely involved in maritime affairs will become clear later. “It is very good if five or six kids a year take up yachting training. After all, we are competing with many other fields of sport,” Kolk reckons.
For nine years now, the Mändjala Surf Club has organised summer camps for children starting from the age of five. According to the organiser of the camp, Marko Kesküla, the main topics are the sea, the beach, and water sports. The participants receive basic training in paddle boarding and kite surfing and get to play beach volleyball and football as well as various adventure games.
In winter 2019, the Inspira Hobby School in Kuressaare launched a fishing hobby group. Instructed by passionate fishermen Sander Suurhans and Meelis Hein, children learn both the theory and practice of fishing. They also learn to clean, fillet and cook fishand try their hand at drying and smoking fi sh. Instruction also includes a closer look at fishing related companies from trolling line workshops to fisheries and trawlers.
Young sea dogs on an old sailing ship
You can get the most historical and authentic scent of the sea on the sailing ship the Hoppet, which has for several years now been berthed in Kuressaare harbour. The fore-and-aft schooner was built in 1926 and is the only historical sailing ship built in Estonia to still sail the seas today. Skipper Pekka Rooväli has made it his mission to give young people a maritime education. The Hoppet education programme includes sea voyages of a few hours, day-long adventures, and camps of several days.
During a 3–4 hour journey, children get a basic overview of maritime safety – how to act correctly in diff erent situations out at sea and in the water, what is prohibited and what is permitted. Children can also try turning the ship’s wheel and using the rescue equipment as well as listening to Pekka’s exciting stories of the centuries of Saaremaa’s maritime history.
A day long adventure on the Hoppet includes a practical rescue demonstration, learning to know the ship and navigation marks and obtaining primary navigation skills. The training day naturally includes ship’s provisions and, the weather permitting, dives from the deck with a refreshing swim.
On a Hoppet camp, young sea dogs learn crew work: standing watch, cooking in the galley, tying knots and handling and fixing sails.
Those interested in the sea are also welcome on board the Hoppet in winter, when workshops are held for making pirate and Viking souvenirs or icecream using cream from the island farms.
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