Home » Top’s’l Sea and Science Program

Top’s’l Sea and Science Program


Who: Ages 13 – 17 as of start of first day
When: June 20 – August 19, 2022
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

  • Session I: $275 (per 1 week session)
  • Sessions II-V: $550 (per 2-week session)

Financial assistance available
Please note: If you plan on requesting financial assistance, the Financial Assistance Request Form MUST be submitted and approved before registering for a session.

The Top’s’l Program is designed for more experienced sailors. This full-day leadership program* builds on skills developed at Stay’s’l I & II programs. Instructors and advanced level sailors will use BSSC’s fixed keel boats as a platform for advancing maritime skills and knowledge. This program also incorporates an advance understanding and respect of the marine environment. Participants work and learn as a team.

Enrollment limited to 2 students per session.

* The development of leadership skills in the Stay’s’l-I, Stay’s’l-II, and Top’s’l programs opens the door to our Apprenticeship Program.

COVID-19 Statement
Boothbay Sea and Science Center’s 2022 summer programs will be COVID-19 compliant. At the beginning of each session, appropriate modifications will be made as directed by Federal and the State of Maine CDC as well as those put forward by local healthcare organizations.

Because this is a fluid situation, our programming plans may change. Our most current COVID-19 policies can be found here.

Helpful links

Themed Sessions

Each session includes weather, basic boating and sailing skills, local marine life, and responsible marine stewardship.

Session I:
Ship to Shore: Discovering BSSC (June 20 – 24)
During this 1-week session participants will experience a sampling of what BSSC’s 2022 summer program will be offering on and off the water. Together we will sail, row, seine, tie knots, explore the shore and touch tank, and have fun with all that’s sea and science. A different topic and related activities each day.

Session II:
Sinking and Floating: Getting Caught in the Current (June 27 – July 8)

In this session, participants will explore where marine debris comes from and where it goes. We will interview people about their plastic usage at nearby beaches and restaurants, in addition to visiting the transfer station to learn more about where our trash goes in order to create “trash stories.” Together we will explore different technologies to help solve the problem of plastics in the ocean and work with an artist who uses marine debris as her medium. Participants enrolled in the Stay’s’l and Tops’s’l Program will be conducting their own research by investigating currents, towing for microplastics, and tracking trash in the local waters and on a nearby island.

Session III:
Melody in Motion: Celebrating our Maritime Heritage (July 11 – July 22)
Together we will take a look at the history of Shipbuilding in Maine. We will talk with the people that design and build boats and meet and work with shipwrights, artists, musicians, and storytellers that celebrate them through their trade, art, music, and sea tales. We will learn sailing techniques and seamanship skills necessary for collecting scientific data. Working alongside scientists, we will do net tows, use secchi discs, and other scientific sampling methods that will help us gain a better understanding of the marine life in and around the Damariscotta River. Together we will explore the tools used in boatbuilding and use them to build model boats. Experiential outreach will Include behind the scenes tours of boats that have been and are now undergoing restoration, explore local art galleries, and work side by side with artists discovering our individual “point of view”.

Session IV:
Stewarding the Blue Wave: The Ins and Outs of Ocean Farming (July 25 – August 5)
During this session we will: explore the vegetation in the Damariscotta River and have conversations with local fisherman, aquaculturists, and scientist about the effects of growing oysters, mussels, and seaweed is having on the ocean and the air we breathe. Together, we will try to answer questions like: What sea life is found in the Gulf of Maine and where? How what we do on and off the water has an impact on natural habitats? What is sea farming and who’s doing it? Activities will include; exploring the vegetation in the Damariscotta River and recording what and where it’s found. Students will gain a better understanding of the laws governing the sea farming and fishing industries and what the impact of the support from coastal communities has on Maine fisheries.

Session V:
Exploring Where the Land Meets the Sea (August 8 – August 19)

During this session we will investigate how geology, weather, and climate change over time and how these changes impact the organisms and plant life living in local rivers and in the Gulf of Maine. Participants will compare and contrast local rivers as they investigate and identify what lies between the surface and the seafloor. Using scientific equipment, students will gain a better understanding of the vegetation and marine life that makes its home in the rivers and in the Gulf. Big questions include: What causes environmental changes? How quickly do these changes occur? How do local species respond to these changes? This is a collaborative program with the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and Maine Maritime Museum.

BSSC Collaborations:
Bristol Marine at the Shipyard in Boothbay Harbor; Southport Island Marine; Bigelow Laboratories for Ocean Sciences; Nathaniel S. Wilson Sailmaker; Washburn & Doughty; Schooner Isaac Evans; Maine Maritime Museum; Maine State Aquarium; Keepers of Burnt Island Light; USG Boothbay Harbor; Department of Marine Resources; Rozalia Project; Blue Ocean Society; OceansWide; Darling Marine Center; Fresh Sea Farms; Springtide Seaweed; Mook Sea Farm; Spartan Sea Farms; Focus Maine/Maine Career Compass; Hurricane Island; Down East Gallery; NOAA; Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens; Lincoln County Regional Planning; Southport Central School; Boothbay Regional Elementary School; Edgecomb Eddy School; South Bristol School; Medomak Middle School; Lincoln Academy; Freeport Middle School; Lisbon Middle School; Harpswell “Home School” … to name a few.

The Boats
See the boats we use in our program

Boating time disclaimer:

We make every effort to provide your son and/or daughter with as much time boating on the water as possible. However, please note that safety concerns raised by local weather conditions may require us to emphasize land-based activites on some days.


  • 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.