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The Bayfront Alternative Education Program (BAEP) is an innovative collaboration between the Bayfront Maritime Center, the Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center and the Erie School District.   The program provides effective, safe and therapeutic learning opportunities for students not achieving educational success in the Erie high schools. These students are in serious risk of not graduating and suffering the subsequent lifelong consequences. These are great kids, not always easy kids, but great kids who need innovative programming and techniques to help them develop a positive sense of future and achieve success in school. The BAEP academic component is a blend of traditional and web based curriculum combined with hands-on maritime projects and activities aligned with Pennsylvania Department of Education standards. Students continue their high school courses as well as experiencing BMC’s fully equipped boat shop, which allows them to work on  significant projects with their head, hands and heart. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM components, are woven into the school day and come alive using BMC’s ShopBot CNC digital fabrication equipment  and Buffalo Computer Graphics 3D Maritime Training Simulator.


BMC’s Project SAIL addresses the need for positive after-school activities for teens which focuses on job skills development. Project SAIL teaches teens how to write resumes, fill out applications, seek employment opportunities, and prepare for interviews. These kids are learning the real world application of math and science in BMC’s boatshop construction projects as well as aboard BMC’s floating classrooms. While underway on BMC’s vessels, whether  sailing, rowing or paddling, students are engaged in inquiry based learning focused on navigation, physics, and environmental science.  They are learning the value of  teamwork, perseverance, problem solving, and cooperation.    After school is when teens are most likely to engage in risky behaviors including drugs and sexual activity, and be subjected to violence and abuse. At best, for many it is unstructured and unproductive time. Project SAIL apprentices are getting outside, sailing, learning to use real world tools while engaged in boatbuilding and other construction projects, and improving their chances of finding employment. The sailing and boating component adds an element of adventure as well as physical activity and skills development. Too often kids turn to risky behaviors to satisfy their need for real adventure. These skills have led to new job acquisitions and students feeling more connected to their community while developing a positive sense of future.


BMC is home of EASE, the Erie Adaptive Sailing Experience, the only adaptive sailing program in Pennsylvania. This program is organized and run by a team of 20 dedicated volunteers. EASE, started in 2001, allows community members, primarily youth, with physical and mental disabilities to sail independently on Presque Isle Bay. BMC’s Access Dinghies and larger keelboats, accommodate a wide variety of mobility and developmental issues. Hoyer lifts help move sailors from wheelchairs into the boats. For some, this is a purely recreational activity that they can enjoy while their families participate on escort/safety vessels, networking with caregivers and other families. The kids are learning teamwork and perseverance. Some participants are learning the sport of sailing. BMC hosted the Access Dinghy North American Championships in 2004, drawing 18 contestants from San Francisco to Quebec. BMC sails with the Shriners Hospitals for Children’s kids, Erie Homes for Children and Adults residents, Housing Authority City of Erie resident youth, the Barber National Institute participants, the Achievement Center patients, and visually impaired students from the Sight Center.


With support from the United Way of Erie County, BMC offers a credit recovery program for teens, who attend any of  Erie’s Public Schools.  On-line curriculum coupled with BMC staff assistance and exciting on-the-water maritime experiences create a fun and productive learning environment. Students have access to laptop computers and high speed Wi-Fi connection . BMC is open four days a week, Monday through Thursday from 9 am to 2 pm, starting Monday, June 19, 2017 and continuing through Thursday, July 20, 2017.  Individuals may register for one course at a time through their home school guidance counselor, principal or school secretary.  Upon completion of the first credit, they may register for a second. Cost is $65 per credit. There are some scholarship opportunities available if the family finds the cost prohibitive. Space is limited.



The Shipwreck Science Program introduces the concepts, hands-on practice, equipment and excitement of scientific underwater exploration to participants, including school students, Erie residents, and tourists. We will get underway with twenty participants on the US Coast Guard inspected motor vessel Canadian Sailor for a three-hour voyage of discovery and adventure.

After departing the dock near Dobbins Landing, participants learn about a variety of topics while en route to shipwrecks located off Presque Isle State Park. Maritime educators from BMC and the professional boat crew present information designed to engage, educate, and captivate, covering subjects including:

  • Presque Isle Bay and Peninsula History
  • Gull Point Sand Succession
  • Point Source Pollution
  • Magnetic Compass
  • Principles of Navigation
  • GPS
  • Chart Plotting
  • Underwater Archeology
  • Rules of the Road
  • Light Houses (we pass three!)
  • Local Shipbuilding
  • Local Commercial Fishing
  • Erie’s Industrial Waterfront

The Side Scan Sonar is deployed as we approach the wreck sites just off of Presque Isle State park, in about 27’ of water. Several passes are made over the wreck as participants watch the Side Scan Sonar screens and learn how to see and interpret the targets observed. The Canadian Sailor then anchors and the Remote Operating Vehicle (ROV) is deployed. Participants see live video from the ROV operating on the lake bottom and are able to observe and identify objects detected previously by the Side Scan Sonar.

Classroom support materials, aligned with Pennsylvania Department of Education Standards and Anchors and differentiated for age groups and abilities are being created, to accompany the adventure. These will help prepare students for the excursion and maximize the cross curricular educational content.

For more information or to schedule a trip, contact Captain Rich Eisenberg. The cost is $55 per person with a fifteen person minimum. Call soon to inquire about the special discount rate for school/youth groups. We are booking school field trips through September 2010!


Students learn to sail aboard one of BMC’s many sailing vessels. Sail training programs build sailing and navigation skills while measurably improving teamwork and self confidence. Logical thinking, algebra and geometry are all vital in navigation and students will get a lesson in the physics of sailing while underway. Program lengths vary based upon student needs. BMC is a US Sailing Certified Keelboat Sailing School. Our 15 hour sailing course is designed to build sailing skills and prepare students to take the US Sailing Basic Keelboat Exam.


BMC offers courses in beginning, intermediate and advanced chart plotting and navigation. Topics include:

  • Introduction to the Nautical Chart
  • Latitude and Longitude
  • Introduction to Plotting Tools
  • Speed, Time, Distance (it’s Algebra, shhhhhh, don’t tell the kids)
  • Magnetic Compass; TVMDC – converting true directions to compass directions100_7204
  • Aids to Navigation; Buoys, Lights, etc.
  • Set and Drift; speed and direction of the Current
  • Course to Steer

BMC has a Buffalo Computer Graphics 3D Maritime Training Simulator. Students learn to pilot a vessel while navigating with Radar and GPS on state of the art Electronic Chart and Display Information System, ECDIS. Students get underway in all kinds of weather and current conditions, day or night, on vessels including an 80’ ketch, a 180’ commercial fishing vessel, a 900’ container ship and many others, without getting wet, cold or seasick! We are able to get underway in San Francisco waters, New York City Harbor, The Chesapeake Bay, and the Lake Erie Quadrangle. This equipment will allow us to offer a USCG RADAR Endorsement Certification Course.

Over the past 15 years we have built 92 boats with 15,000 youth, predominantly from the Erie area but including all of Pennsylvania and parts of New York. Our projects range from 15 foot canoes to our 29 foot Erie Boat, the historic turn of the century fishing boat that helped make Erie the freshwater fishing capital of the world. Our boat building curriculum is aligned with Pennsylvania Department of Education standards incorporating math, algebra, fractions, geometry and technology skills into our lessons. Traditional academics are enhanced by a host of soft skills including teamwork,  critical thinking, perseverance,  effective communication and problem solving. Fees are project dependent; please contact the Bayfront Maritime Center for more information.




If you feel that you or your group could benefit from any of our programs please do not hesitate to Contact Us