NEWBURYPORT — Youngsters should have more opportunities to access boating, local marine professionals say.
So a task force of about a dozen gathered last week at the Youth Services Center on Milk Street to explore ways that more might be included.
They released a list of water-based learning activities this spring, and vowed to come up with additional programs to involve more children.
“Fewer youngsters are boating than 20 years ago,” said Kate Yeomans, who runs the Merrohawke Nature School on the waterfront. “We’re looking to develop programs that will involve more kids and their families.”
Those present at the meeting represented private marinas, tourist boat companies, the Coast Guard, Newburyport Youth Services, local school systems and several marine-education organizations.
“We had a good turnout, and a useful discussion,” said Randall Lyons, business manager for the Newburyport Marinas. “We are going to work together to offer more opportunities for kids.”
Segments of the boating community associated with the Merrimack River are quite vibrant.
Close to 2,000 pleasure craft are registered with Newburyport and Salisbury harbormasters, and hundreds more come each weekend to launch boats at Cashman Park and other public-access venues.
But marine professionals want to grow the business so that youngsters will pursue boating as adults.
The following programs will be offered this spring, according to organizers:
Youth Fishing Clinic, May 21, Cashman Park, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., sponsored by Newburyport harbormaster and Marine Fisheries.
Maritime Festival, Monday, May 30, 8 to 10 a.m. This is a kids pirate-ship event, tied to the presence of the tall ship, El Galeon. It is being sponsored by the Custom House.
Fishing event, Saturday, June 11, sponsor is Newburyport Youth Services, details to be determined.
Touch a Boat, date to be determined. Merrohawke Nature School is developing this program, akin to Touch a Truck events held locally. Details will be forthcoming, but it appears this will be in June at the city pier.
Lyons said that a formal database and information phone number will be created so that families can contact waterfront managers to sign up, or learn more.