August 4, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
2022 is turning out to be a banner year for Hingham Maritime Center, with a resurgence of energy and enthusiasm during its first full season since 2019 due to the pandemic.
While limited programming was offered in 2020 and 2021, it's full sails ahead this summer, with widespread participation by youth and adults of all ages in the sailing and rowing programs.
"We're trying hard to get more people out on the water. Our programs are open to everyone," HMC Board of Trustees President Liza MacKinnon told the Hingham Anchor. "HMC has the best access to the water in Hingham -- with so much activity here -- and we want to help make the harbor more usable for the community."
This year's "Under the Harvest Moon" Harbor Feast -- hosted by Hingham Maritime Center, the Hingham High School Sailing Team, and the Hingham High School Rowing Association (HHSRA) on Saturday, Sept. 10 -- will be a "better-than-ever" celebration of "another wonderful year on Hingham Harbor." This fundraiser will benefit all three organizations. South Shore Bank is the main sponsor.
The 2020 event was held virtually, and the 2021 one was canceled, so this is an opportunity for HMC staff and supporters to celebrate in-person for the first time in three years.
The fun-filled event -- featuring hors d’oeuvres, a delicious feast by local caterer Frank Showstack of Smokey Stax BBQ, beer from Two Roads Brewing, a raw bar provided by Salty Days Fish Co., s’mores, a selection of wine and a specialty cocktail, and other refreshments -- will take place on Barnes Wharf from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $150 each. This is an adults-only gathering.
Paddle raise 'auction'
HMC supporters who attend will enjoy dancing under the stars, relaxing by the fire pit, and experiencing spectacular views of Hingham Harbor from this perfect location. They will also have an opportunity to participate in a paddle raise, where the "auctioneer" asks for donations of different amounts from the crowd, and donors raise their paddles to commit to giving at a certain level.
While the donations from the paddle raise are not designated for a specific purpose, they could be used to purchase items on any of the three organizations' "wish" lists -- from marine radios and sails to sailboats and crew shells.
Over the years, HMC -- which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year -- has taught sailing and rowing to more than 10,000 participants, fostering self-reliance, teamwork, physical fitness, and a solutions-oriented approach. Those who participate in these programs range in age from seven to 80-plus.
Many of the instructors participated in HMC sailing and rowing programs when they were younger and are now on the high school sailing and rowing teams.
Volunteers from Hingham Middle School who have a history with HMC enjoy volunteering -- helping with classes and rigging boats for new sailors, among other tasks. "They are often here all day and love it," MacKinnon said.
Members of the HHSRA also volunteer, assisting with both the sailing and rowing programs and occasionally stepping in as part of a rowing team if a member can't participate on a particular day or acting as coxswains for adult rowers.
HMC has been building up its adult program offerings and recently added a learn-to-sail program.
Program promotes teamwork
HMC offers youth "healthy summer activities, where they're outside in the fresh air and sunshine learning interpersonal skills and teamwork without being distracted by devices [such as cell phones]," MacKinnon said. "Some of the older kids row in the morning, volunteer during part of the day, and sail in the afternoon."
Devon Moriarty, a 2022 Hingham High School graduate who was involved with the Hingham High School rowing program, is an instructor at HMC this summer. "My favorite part about working here is the environment," she said. "Everyone is genuinely excited to be here and always leaves at the end of the day smiling."
Joe Griffin Sr., who said he has "always been a sailor," accepted an invitation to volunteer at HMC last November "to help in any way I could," including putting his handyman skills to good use. His whole family sails on Hingham Harbor, including his grandchildren. "Joe keeps us afloat!" MacKinnon said.
Amy Conley returned to HMC as executive director last January after serving as waterfront director about 20 years ago, working with HMC founder Ginny Gray.
"I spent last winter learning how the operation works -- it was a steep learning curve," she said. "I have a lot of different roles, from being in charge of registrations and attending board meetings to handling the advertising and social media. I sometimes act as a 'nurse,' address maintenance issues, and communicate with the kids and their parents."
Conley particularly enjoys how "calm and peaceful" it normally is out on the water and sharing her love of Hingham Harbor with others.
'The best place to work ever'
Sarah Dewey, who heads the rowing program, called HMC "the best place to work ever." She is a good fit for this position, describing herself as "hardwired to go fast."
In her role, Dewey said she helps kids refine their technical skills so that they feel comfortable that they can win a race -- "to ensure that they have the technical capability to go fast, which provides them with a solid foundation for when they join rowing programs in high school and college, where they can take their rowing to the next level."
Hingham High School Rowing Association President Ted Matthews is grateful for the many generous organizations and town entities that help fund, operate, and/or support the HHS rowing teams, including Hingham Maritime Center, Hingham Public Schools, the Select Board's office, Bare Cove Park Committee, the School Committee, the Hingham Harbormaster's Department, South Shore Yacht Club, the Hingham Shipyard Marina, "and our many sponsors, foundations, contributors, vendors, and volunteers," he said.
The HHS Crew team is funded by the HHSRA, s a 501 (c) (3) charitable association with its own by-laws designed to operate the HHS Rowing Team, according to Matthews.
The HHSRA has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Hingham Public School Department to fund and operate the HHS Crew Team. The High School Athletic Department provides bus transportation to and from regattas, insurance, and coach training and support.
"HHSRA is completely reliant on student fees, team fundraising, corporate donations, and parent volunteers to operate," Matthews said. "All money raised goes directly to supporting the program, including coaches’ salaries, purchasing, maintaining and replacing equipment, and regatta fees."
Joe Griffin Jr., head coach for the Hingham High School Sailing Team, told the Hingham Anchor that HMC is "a huge reason" why the team has been moved up to Division 1 from Division 2 for the coming year. "Over the 10 years I have coached the team, HMC has helped us out time and time again -- giving us as much time on the water as possible," he explained.
Hingham Maritime Center "is an important asset to the town," Griffin said. "We wouldn't have a sailing team without HMC, which has taught so many kids how to sail who continue to sail to this day."
'One of Hingham's biggest assets'
Hingham Harbor Development Committee Chair Marco Boer told the Hingham Anchor, "As identified in the town’s 2020 Master Plan, one of Hingham’s biggest assets is its location on the water. Less than six percent of Hingham’s waterfront is publicly accessible, which makes Hingham Maritime Center’s non-profit mission to enable all Hingham residents to sail or row on Hingham Harbor so important."
Hingham High School’s rowing and sailing teams are especially fortunate to share in access to the water at Barnes Wharf, Boer said, "although it has to be noted that with all the success, there is a perpetual shortage of space."
The Harbor Development Committee in cooperation with the Bathing Beach Trustees is in the process of updating its 2007 Master Plan for Hingham Harbor, he noted. As part of this "vision project," the hope is to be able to provide additional ideas of how to enable Hingham residents to enjoy even better access to the harbor in the future.
"The cooperation between the town, Hingham Maritime Center, Hingham High School Rowing, Hingham High School Sailing, the Bathing Beach Trustees, and the Harbor Development Committee to help more Hingham residents access the waterfront has never been more aligned than it is today," Boer said.
To purchase Harbor Feast tickets, visit https://www.hinghammaritime.org/events.