knot tying
Tom Pahl teaches knot tying on the Wilma Lee to local Girl Scouts (Ms. Patricia Piland, leader, Kenzie, Starr, Mila and Becky). Photo courtesy of Ocracoke Alive.

Ocracoke Alive’s educational programs aboard the skipjack Wilma Lee have begun under the direction of islander Laura McClain.

The island nonprofit recently hired McClain as a part-time educational program coordinator to create and market educational programming for the organization’s historic sailing vessel.

“We are aiming to grow our educational mission,” said David Tweedie, executive director.  “We see that mission involving not just the Wilma Lee but many areas of learning for youth and adults.”

The educational programs will take place around and aboard the Wilma Lee and will be geared toward middle-school students, Tweedie said. 

In a first step, the nonprofit has developed two 90-minute, hands-on entertaining lessons that will be offered free at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays in September at the Wilma Lee at the Community Square dock.

In “BUOY Bingo–Nautical Charts and Navigation,” Sept 17 and Oct 1, students will learn the fundamentals in reading nautical charts, reading compasses and learning about nautical symbols.

“Anatomy of a Sailboat” will be held Sept. 24 and will teach students the differences between sail boats and other kinds of boats.  They will make drawings, learn sailing terminology and classic knot tying.  They may even get to take a ride up the mast in a “bosun’s chair.”

For both of these programs, the Wilma Lee will remain tied up at the dock.  Future programs will involve sailing trips in the Pamlico Sound.

Although walkups are welcome, workshop space is limited.  Please contact, or 252-921-0260 ahead of time as to your participation.

Other possible lessons include the Wilma Lee’s past as an oystering boat. 

“We have a lot of work to do and we have some great on-island experts who we are working with to create a collaborative program,” McClain said.

Ocracoke Alive hopes to be able to offer half-day and then full-day programming locally and to both private and public schools around the state.

Lesson plans developed by LEARN NC, a spinoff of the UNC School of Education, will guide McClain’s program development.

For more information about Ocracoke Alive, click here.

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