BSSC Completes 2023 Season on Linekin Bay

Students take turns helming BSSC’s Precision 15 keelboat. Robert Crink photo.

While it’s been several weeks since the Boothbay Sea and Science Center’s nine-week summer program came to a close, the sight of the BSSC fleet of sailboats and rowboats cruising through the bay and kids exploring tidepools and enthusiastically exclaiming “I found a crab” delighting neighbors and visitors alike is truly being missed. The first summer at our new home at 12 Carter Road was a roaring success. BSSC purchased the Estate of Mildred A. Carter on Linekin Bay in East Boothbay in February of this year, and thanks to a significant effort from its Executive Director, Pauline Dion, dedicated Board members, staff, and volunteers was able to open its doors on June 17.

Sailing Instructor Rose Campbell looks on as a student secures the painter rope to a BSSC float using a cleat hitch knot. Robert Crink photo.

Each day at BSSC includes boating and hands-on marine science activities and experiences. This summer 160 eager and enthusiastic students ages 5 – 17 learned basic rowing and sailing skills that included both land and water-based activities focused on concepts such as knot tying, weather forecasting, navigation, rules of the road, rowing techniques, sail folding, rigging and derigging turnabout sailing dinghies and fixed keel boats (a Precision-15, and 2 Sonars).

What stands out most from the feedback that we received from students and parents is that the science and sailing instructors instill a sense of confidence and independence in the students. One student in the Mizzen Program (ages 5-8) impressed his grandfather, a longtime avid sailor, by taking the helm and proudly demonstrating the sailing skills he had learned during his time at BSSC. Neighbors noticed that, despite the many rainy days this summer, students at BSSC were in rowboats exploring the nearby shore, on the floats towing for plankton, and in the tidepools searching for the sea creatures that make their home there. Favorite activities among the students included getting to sail in the bigger keel boats and going on adventures to Perch Island in Linekin Bay, where they could explore and enjoy a refreshing swim.

One-week topics, that guided this summer’s sea and science program, explored local marine life and vegetation and how communities use and rely on Maine’s coastal ecosystems. BSSC’s 2023 summer program kicked off with “Ship to Shore” offering students a sample of each of the weekly topics that were expanded on throughout the summer.

This year’s topics included marine art, shipbuilding, impacts of climate change, marine debris, and aquaculture. BSSC’s topics focus on coastal resiliency and encourage students to think about possible solutions when addressing issues such as climate change and pollution. According to the students, highlights of this summer’s science aspect of the program included learning about sustainable fishing, doing plankton tows, creating art from marine debris, beach seining, and exploring the tidepools. The most popular activity by far was working with BSSC’s fleet of SeaPerch Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs). This summer BSSC’s ROV program was directed by Junior Sailing and Science Instructor Caroline Snell who, for 3 summers, has been a member of our team. Students in the Stays’l Program (ages 9-17) helped Caroline build the remaining two of the seven ROV’s and attaching GoPro cameras explored what lies between the surface and seafloor.

The summer at BSSC concluded with a field day during which students, supported by instructors, gathered in teams for events that included a knot tying relay, an ROV race, marine science trivia, and a boat hull design contest. The field day was lots of fun and proclaimed a huge success with everyone walking away with a smile on their face and a “you were awesome” to their teammates.

Emma Dullaert, Science Instructor