Sailing with the Wind: Seal Beach clubs take the blind around Alamitos Bay

Volunteers help guests board their vessels. Courtesy photo

On a beautiful Sunday, Aug. 19, approximately 80 individuals who are blind or visually impaired were treated to a sail around Alamitos Bay. The annual activity, called “Sailing with the Wind,” was co-sponsored by the Seal Beach Yacht Club and the Seal Beach Lions.

The intention of the event as stated by Lions Board Secretary and event chairman, Mary Hollen, was to “allow the joy of the sea, surf, wind, and sounds wash over those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the joy of sailing and yachting.” She said, “I also would like to acknowledge my husband, Commodore of the Seal Beach Yacht Club, Steve Hollen and the rest of the club for providing so much opportunity to the blind and visually impaired.”

The morning started with registration around 8 a.m. LEOs (the Lions Club’s youth group) and Lions met vehicles carrying guests and bring them to the table. The guests would receive a name tag. The guests included a group from the Veterans Hospital of Long Beach who are visually impaired. Individuals had signed liability waivers and pre-registered. They came from several organizations throughout the area. For those not signing the waiver ahead of time, event organizers had one ready to sign with a particular template for use by individuals who are visually impaired or blind.

After registration guests were escorted upstairs for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of frittata, bagels and cream cheese, fruit and pound cake. Boat owners also joined the contingent for this meal.

Following breakfast, the boat loading began at around 10:30 a.m. About 15 boats were used. Individuals were escorted to their assigned ships. The size of vessels ranged from 55 feet to 18 feet. They ran the gamut of a Duffy, sailboats, and powerboats. The duration of the sailing was about one-and-one half to two hours. When the sailing was completed, the participants returned to the Seal Beach Yacht Club for lunch. Lunch consisted of hamburgers with the works, potato chips, cookies, a variety of sodas and water.

The participants in this activity thanked the Seal Beach Yacht Club and the Seal Beach Lions profusely. This event could not have taken place without tremendous support from both Yacht Club and Lions Club members, who did everything from preparing food, registering participants, and escorting guests from place to place. A special thanks go to organizers Laura Ellsworth and Mary Hollen. They are both Lions and Seal Beach Yacht Club members.

Karen Russell is a Seal Beach resident, Lion and member of Los Alamitos Unified School Board.