With nearly two decades of service at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and 15 years at Towson University, Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Joe Oster has dedicated his career to higher education. Recently, Joe’s weekends have been dedicated to education of a different sort.
Joe is a member of the Downtown Sailing Center, a non-profit organization which promotes community sailing through education and outreach. Most weekends during the April to October sailing season, you will find Joe readying boats on the Sailing Center’s docks near the Baltimore Museum of Industry in Locust Point. The center’s nearly 700 members host dozens events throughout the year, including many geared toward the community.
“There is something happening almost every day at the DSC. Monday and Tuesdays are reserved for lessons, Wednesday open sail, Thursday nights are competitive races, Friday nights are open for sailing and social gatherings and on weekends we have cruises and more open sailing,” Joe said. “You just go down and join up with whoever’s there.”
The weekend open house sails are open to the entire community—anyone can drop by, get out on the open water, and learn about sailing from members of the Center. If guests want to sail more often, they can choose to become paid members. Membership provides access to additional Center offerings such as races, social sails, and sailing courses for a range of skill levels. Those courses are how Joe first learned to sail.
“I wanted to buy a sailboat when I turned 50, but I didn’t know how to sail,” Joe said. “A friend of mine said, ‘No, you have to learn how to sail first. If you like it, then you can buy a boat.’ He took me down to the Sailing Center and I took two series of lessons and was hooked. Eventually I tested to be a skipper, so now I can take the boats out on my own.”
In addition to having access to the Center’s fleet of more than 50 boats, members play a major role in the organization’s maintenance and outreach. They work together to maintain the fleet and teach newer members the ropes. They also help give back to the community: most members volunteer to help out with the at-risk youth and special needs groups frequently hosted by the Center. Several of the Center’s boats are customized for use by children and individuals with disabilities, and the Center hosts a summer camp for local children who want to learn about sailing.
“The goal is to make sailing accessible,” Joe said. “We educate groups in the art of sailing, and in turn they learn the lessons sailing teaches you about the importance of planning, patience and teamwork.”
For more information on the Downtown Sailing Center, go to http://www.downtownsailing.org/.