In December, Skipper and Director of Operations of Sail Buffalo Pierre Wallinder and his shipmates sailed the Pretender, a Tayana 37 cruising boat, from Deltaville, Virginia to the Bahamas. They landed at the Grand Bahama, stayed for three weeks, then sailed to Miami to purchase new radar equipment. Over the next few months, their destinations will include Exumas and the Turks and Caicos before they return to Florida. Over the length of voyage, Sail Buffalo students will come and go as crew members until Captain Wallinder returns home to Buffalo in April.

In addition to my duties at BuffaloVibe/Citybration, I designed and manage the Sail Buffalo website. Through their Facebook posts, I have enjoyed following Captain Wallinder and the crew’s passage. What a relief these pictures of sun and surf have been in the midst of snow and ice. When you join an organization like Sail Buffalo, you get to share the adventure. And, if you are so inclined, you can end up doing adventuresome things. This is the wonder of community.

Sail Buffalo, spearheaded by Captain Wallinder, is a local non profit whose mission is to train people to be safe, confident sailors, and provide on-water access, continuing education, and social networking. The Sail Buffalo project transformed an abandoned inlet on the Buffalo River into a community boating center. Pierre believes that navigating our waterways is a birthright for Buffalonians. To know how to sail your own ship is as vital a skill as riding a bike or driving a car. And this community boating center supports access for everyone. Last summer, the Say Yes Buffalo program, in partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools and the City of Buffalo, provided a summer camp program for grades K-6 at Sail Buffalo. The next generation of sailors are on board.

Over the last few seasons, Captain Wallinder has been dreaming and scheming of sailing the Sail Buffalo community beyond the shores of Lake Erie during the winter months. This successful maiden voyage bodes well for future wintertime excursions. What a thrill to increase and hone one’s seamanship during the summer months, launch them in the winter, sail miles out to sea, and then bask in the warmth of southern climes! Not your run of the mill snowbirds.

One of my favorite posts from this voyage to the Bahamas is a packing list. I puzzled over some of these objects, wondering about their utility and use. This list gave me a true sense of what this kind of excursion entails. Here it is, direct from Pierre’s post, with additional links and abbreviations spelled out.

While the list keeps me on the ship, I disembark via the pictures posted to Facebook. I am reminded of a quote from the Bible, Ruth 1:16, "Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people …"

Below is a slideshow of the trip and two of Captain Wallinder’s videos. I hope that you, too, will enjoy snowbirding with Sail Buffalo!