Setting Sail

By Lisa Cavanaugh

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea…we are going back from whence we came.”

John F. Kennedy

It is this sense of belonging that informs the mission of Sail Cape Cod, a Hyannis-based nonprofit organization. “Sailing is an experience that is part of the Cape identity,” says Josh Richards, program coordinator of Sail Cape Cod. “But if you don’t own a boat or belong to a yacht club, it’s hard to get a chance to go sailing.”

Which is why Sail Cape Cod offers lessons and on-the-water opportunities to residents for whom this archetypal Cape Cod activity is often out of reach: at-risk youth, physically and developmentally disabled individuals, seniors, veterans and military families.  “Our motto is access to all without limitation,” says Richards. “Last summer, Sail Cape Cod was able to get a gentleman who had suffered a stroke on the water for the first time in 15 years. It was remarkable how much that meant to him.”

Sail Cape Cod was started five years ago by a local group of avid sailors and has developed into a year-round community sailing organization. In addition to offering fee-based sailing lessons to adults and children, they also have an adaptive sailing program and a community outreach initiative.

The organization’s Sea Legs program provides a fly lift and two adaptive sailboats, (Lila and Sneakers), which allow individuals with physical, developmental or intellectual challenges to sail in comfort and safety, accompanied by the skilled Sail Cape Cod team. Their community outreach programs are a collaborative effort in which Sail Cape Cod hosts clients from nonprofit organizations, schools and youth groups on recreational and therapeutic sails around Lewis Bay.

“Especially for the at-risk youth, sailing gives them a chance to learn teamwork and affiliate themselves with an experience that is iconic Cape Cod,” says Richards. “They build self-esteem while gaining appreciation for the water and the natural beauty of the Cape.”

To learn more about Sail Cape Cod and fee-based lessons, visit To inquire about the Sea Legs program and community outreach opportunities, please email Josh Richards at

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