Top’s’l Sea and Science Program

Who: Grade 8 – Grade 12

When: TBA

Where:  Ocean Point Marina, East Boothbay, Maine

Cost:  TBA

Participant Enrollment/Session: Minimum of 2. There will be four 2-week themed sessions.  Students may enroll in more than one (sequentially or not) 2-week session as desired.

Free Day: TBA

Registration begins Monday, January 15, 2018


The Top’s’l Program is designed for more experienced sailors.  This program allows students to build upon the skills developed at the Stay’s’l Program level and take on leadership roles. Participants work and learn as a team, improve social skills and develop new lifelong friendships. Instructors and advanced level sailors will use BSSC’s 23 ft Sonars as a platform for advancing maritime skills and knowledge including weather observation and forecasting, tides and currents, piloting and navigation and rules of the road. The program also incorporates an advance understanding and respect of the marine environment that includes but is not limited to recording and analyzing weather patterns, studying environmental impacts on intertidal ecology, understanding oceanography as it relates to data collection and embracing ownership and the practice of responsible ocean stewardship.  Fusing sailing and science, students will learn the hydrodynamics and aerodynamics that make sailboats perform optimally.


Each session will focus on a variety of topics including weather, basic boating and sailing skills, local marine life and responsible marine stewardship.  Each session highlights topics related to the theme.

Note: These descriptions are from the 2017 season. They are subject to change.

Session I: Gulf of Maine Fisheries

This this 2 week session investigates how people use, consume, and manage the harvesting of marine creatures from the Gulf of Maine. Hands-on activities will include lobster trap hauling and fishing (catch and release) and the proper handling and preparing of various types of fish and seafood overseen by a local chef and a local entrepreneur in the food industry. Participants will gain an understanding of how and why humans affect the marine food web.

Session II: Marine Technology and Marine Debris

This 2 week session highlights the different types of ocean technology, including, submersibles and remote operated vehicles (ROVs) and how they can be used to explore and understand the ocean. BSSC will provide hands-on opportunities to build and study the use of these technologies to bring awareness to problems associated with marine debris from the surface to the sea floor. Rachael Miller and crew of the Rozalia Project (a non-profit organization for a clean ocean: will be working with the participants on marine debris projects.

Session III: Art and Science of Sailing

This 2 week session focuses on the interaction between sail and hull design and its relationship to recreational boating and scientific research. In this module, students will gain a better understanding of the use of sailboats as working platforms for exploration and inquiry and a historical perspective of their impact on maritime art, music, and folklore. Students will spend time learning sailing techniques and seamanship skills necessary for data collection such as net tows and other scientific sampling methods to gain a better understanding of the Damariscotta River habitats.  A local sailmaker, marine architect, artists and scientists will help students unravel the mysteries and wonders of the art and science of sailing.

Session IV:   Exploring Maine Aquaculture

This 2 week session explores the aquaculture industries along the Damariscotta River. This module focuses on learning about the marine microbial food chain and its importance to Maine aquaculture species, analyzing and interpreting water samples, interacting with scientists and stakeholders within the aquaculture industry (farmers and aqua-culturists) and exploring different career paths within aquaculture. In 2016, this session received funding from the Maine EPSCoR SEANET Mini-Grant program.


  • Pass a swim test at the Center.
  • Parents / Guardians must present signed Registration forms, Liability Waiver, and Medical forms before participants begin the program.
  • Parents  / Guardians and students must jointly sign “Code of Conduct” before the start of the program.

The Boat:

The primary teaching sailboat for this program is the Sonar a fast 23 ft sloop that performs well in light winds but with a 900 lbs keel is both stiff but able to surf in heavier winds. It is a fun and safe day sailor and has been used in many national championship regattas such as Adams Cup, Sears Cup, Prince of Wales, Cowes Week and many others. The 11 1/2 ft self-bailing cockpit can seat eight with leg room to spare while angled seat backs and coamings are designed for comfort when heeled. It is an ideal boat for beginning sailors and racers as well as family day sails. With minor adaptions it is often used by disabled sailors and has been chosen for the Paralympics.