SAILING | BOAT-BUILDING | ADVENTURE 

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Community Rowing

Click here to sign up for rowing! 

BMC has developed  Community Rowing in Erie, Pennsylvania. Focusing on outdoor physical activity, life skills development  including teamwork, leadership and critical thinking, educational attainment, volunteerism and FUN,  BMC is bringing this on-the-water opportunity to youth and adults of the Erie Region.   Community Rowing in Erie, a waterfront city with deep maritime roots, on the best natural harbor in all of the Great Lakes has been conspicuous by its absence.

Community Rowing began during the summer of 2014.  Rowing started on weekday mornings and late afternoons and may include weekends at a later date.     Rowing sessions  will be between one to two hours. With more volunteers and recruited students, the program can expand to fit the demand. Participation will be accessible to everyone.  See the schedule and pick a time at this Doodle Link.

The two St. Ayles Skiffs, Mighty Oak and Blue Pike, are in the water and rowed all last summer! The Ayles Skiffs were built by Erie high school students in the Bayfront Alternative Education Program and BMC’s after-school program Project SAIL.  .  These 22′ foot long, 68″ wide rowing skiffs have four people rowing and a coxswain steering.  These are traditional rowing vessels with stationary seats, and are designed to easily handle windy, wavy, and choppy conditions making them perfect for Erie.  Videos of St. Ayles Skiffs in action.

Boat building at BMC is hands-on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math   cross curricular STEM. Learning takes place in a boat shop fully equipped with traditional tools as well as Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) digital fabrication equipment. The kids created a construction blog in English class that documented their progress


Rowing is one of the most physically demanding sports  because it engages both the upper and lower body, yet remains a low impact activity. This full body conditioning burns large amounts of calories because it engages so many muscles. Rowing is great for joint health because the joints undergo a wide range of motions. Rowing works the upper body, lower body, back and abdominals. Rowing has been shown to improve lung and cardiac function, reduce blood pressure, and increase muscular endurance. In addition to the benefits of physical activity, exercise in a natural setting has been shown to increase attention span, decrease symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children, reduce  stress and protect psychological well-being. In 2009  the University of Essex looked at 10 studies and found increased self-esteem and improved mood after outdoor exercise. The greatest improvements in both mood and self esteem were seen in on- the -water water activities, such as rowing and sailing.

Learning to be a coxswain builds confidence and creates future leaders!

Rich with a boat load of kids_4,4,2015

Erie Housing Authority summer students learn to paddle for the first time!

Skiffs_2015

The golden days of autumn have created some magical evenings on Presque Isle Bay. Photo courtesy of Amanda Loose.

These skiffs are under construction and/or in use at over fifty high schools and rowing programs in the United States. BMC is building the first St. Ayles Skiffs on the Great Lakes. The skiffs are part of a national grassroots program, WoodenBoat Magazine’s Boatbuilding & Rowing Challenge.  BARC was established to get more people, primarily youth, engaged in an outdoor, healthy, rigorous, team activity. Youth rowing and boat building projects have a well-documented record of changing kids’ lives for the better as well as having the potential to lead to collegiate rowing scholarship opportunities. BARC also provides a remedy for the disconnection between youth and hands-on skills, due to a lack of training and apprenticeship and mentoring opportunities. The Bayfront Maritime Center’s youth boat building efforts are being featured in the “Currents” section in the next issue of Wooden Boat Magazine. Developing and sustaining a Community Rowing Program is a long term investment in the health of youth and the community. These 2 skiffs will provide the beginning of a community wide rowing program that will bring diverse people together around the sport of rowing. The rowing as well as the boat building will provide multi-level one-on-one mentoring opportunities in addition to the obvious health benefits of an outdoors, team, exercise program that utilizes Erie’s premier asset, Presque Isle Bay.

The sunsets in Erie are truly amazing! These are our two St. Ayles Skiffs tied to the floating docks just outside  our office window. The Brig Niagara is berthed just to the west of our campus.

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  1. […] skiff is the beginning of Erie’s first ever Community Rowing Program at the Bayfront Maritime […]