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St. Petersburg-Based Non-Profit Gives Children an Opportunity
to Work on their Sea Legs as they Also Work on their
Self-Esteem, Teamwork and Self-Awareness

SAILvation offers 1- and 3-day sailing excursions
socio-economically challenged teens

The 75-foot sailboat, Grand Nellie, sits patiently in the marina, waiting for its first official voyage to begin. That voyage will finally take place next month as a group of deserving young men from Tampa Academy of Hope set out to sea on a sailing excursion aboard the Grand Nellie, piloted by Captain Ron Parfitt. This trip will not only be making the dreams of these young men come true, but Captain Ron’s dreams will finally be coming true as well.

Captain Ron discovered the life-altering joy of sailing as a teenager, along with the pleasure and sense of accomplishment he felt traveling through the water without the aid of an engine. About six years ago, he began searching for a way to share this feeling of empowerment with children who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience sailing and the open sea. Thus, the idea for SAILvation was born.

After searching the globe for nearly two years, Captain Ron’s ship “literally” came in. One day, the “Grand Nellie,” a 75-foot, steel-hulled tall ship schooner appeared in the marina, moored directly behind Ron’s boat. Upon further inspection, he found Grand Nellie to be the embodiment of everything he had been looking for. The minute he stepped foot on her, he fell in love. Through the tireless efforts of Ron and his crew, Grand Nellie was brought up to Coast Guard standards and approved for charter sailing.

The young men and women who will participate in the SAILvation program will work as a team on board the ship, setting sails, steering, navigating and learning how to read the weather, nautical charts and tides. This program, however, is not just about learning how to sail. SAILvation uses the sailing experience as a catalyst for instilling leadership skills, developing a participant’s character and self esteem, forging rewarding relationships with others and learning about the environment.

After six years of hard work and passionate dreaming, Captain Ron stands at her helm, waiting to unfurl the sails and the next chapter of his adventure.

Captain Ron and the SAILvation team have tentatively scheduled a second adventure for a group of deserving young women, also from the Tampa Academy of Hope, in the first part of June.




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