Students learn the
theoretical side of
sailing, as well as
and docks were built. In 1980, the first fee-
based courses were offered to the public.
When Avery joined in 1979, he organized
boat donations, including that of Alaska
Eagle (a Whitbread round-the-world winner
formerly named Flyer), which went on to
become OCC Sailing’s flagship. In the past
30 years, she’s logged 300,000 sea miles,
and carried 3,000 students to destinations
like New Zealand, Europe, and Antarctica.
A 92-foot Hargrave named Nordic Star is the
most recent donation and she’s destined
to become the new flagship. Like Eagle,
she’ll be her own school offering multiple
powerboating courses. The list
of vessel donors includes the
late Roy Disney who donated
his 86-foot Pyewacket, Kelsey
Grammer who added his Baltic
37, and Dr. Laura who has
made multiple donations. The
gifted boats are evaluated for
their fit into the program and
either sold or used as class-
rooms. OCC Sailing also has
a new 15-unit vocational pro-
gram designed for college stu-
dents interested in careers in
the maritime industry. Once the students get
their certificates, they work on fishing ves-
sels, private yachts, and ferries, while some
students continue on to maritime colleges.
In addition to fee-based instruction, the
school runs a summer program for at-risk
kids who’d otherwise not be able to set
foot on a boat of any size. Avery describes
the people who come back to see him after
they’ve bought a boat themselves: “We have
people coming in every day telling us they
just returned from a world circumnavigation
after having learned to sail here,” he says.
RICH ARMSTRONG IS
ROLLIN’ ON THE RIVER
ON SEPTEMBER 27, 2006, a driver an a stop sign and hit longtime California boater Rich Armstrong
on his motorcycle, confining him to a
wheelchair and changing his life forever.
But instead of taking his disability lying
down, Armstrong returned to work selling steel from his chair, and started a new
weekend business retrofitting boats so
handicapped people could enjoy the water.
The first boat retrofitted, Rollin’ On The
River, (also the name of his company) was
for himself. He later sold the 1985 37-foot
Tollycraft to a man whose daughter had
cerebral palsy. He says one of the most
rewarding moments of his life was to see
that father gain the enjoyment of being
able to spend time on the water with his
daughter. After the Tollycraft, Armstrong
went on to retrofit a 51-foot Bluewater
yacht, and he recently installed a hydraulic
lift on a 15-foot boat with a wakeboard
tower that picks the owner out of his
wheelchair on the dock, and lowers him
into the driver’s seat.
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