Orange Coast College due to see monumental upgrades for the School of Sailing & Seamanship

College will make many changes to the amenities available to maritime students during the next two years.

NEWPORT BEACH — While many boaters might have New Year’s resolutions to overall improve the operations of their boats, it appears the School of Sailing & Seamanship at Orange Coast College (OCC) will spend the next two years resolving to make vast and sweeping changes to the amenities available to sailing students.

Among the changes planned will be a 10,000 sq. ft. Marina Training Facility, a new building connected to the present facility with a pedestrian bridge over Coast Highway, and the possible return of the offshore sailing program. Repairs and renovations are presently being made to the current marina facility with an estimated completion date of Feb. 1, 2018.

“This is going to be quite the year for us,” Brad Avery, the program’s director, said in promotional material issues to those interested in the School of Sailing & Seamanship. “After five decades, our entire marina facility will be replaced. The project start[ed] fall and should be completed by Feb. 1, 2018. This long-planned upgrade includes new pilings, floats, electrical, lighting, plumbing, and fire system. Our faculty and staff did the layout, which will provide a great marina in terms of safety, efficiency, and more room for boats.”

In addition to the project that will see renovations for the marina facility and is planned to be completed in early 2018, an even larger extension of the current facility is being planned to start construction in 2019. “2018 will see final approvals for OCC’s new Maritime Training Center, which will be built across the street from our current facility,” Avery stated.

“A pedestrian bridge over Coast Highway will connect both buildings. The new 10,000 sq. ft. building will be home to our growing Professional Mariner Program, which serves students interested in maritime careers. Construction should begin in early 2019,” he continued.

Avery also hinted the school is looking to incorporate even more hands-on training, hopefully giving student sailors and mariners the opportunity to participate in offshore sailing.

“We also look forward to reviving our offshore sail training program in 2018. We are currently seeking a modern cruising boat in the 53- to 60-ft. range,” Avery said. “After the sale of the incredibly successful Alaska Eagle in 2011, we are eager to again provide students with offshore sailing skills, which can only be acquired by participating in multi-day offshore sailing passages. Many supporters have helped us toward this goal.”

OCC has had much success in obtaining vessels for firsthand training. Before Alaska Eagle was sold and returned to her native Netherlands in 2011, she was donated to OCC and maintained by Rich and Sheri Crowe, instructors of the offshore sailing program for around 29 years.

Avery told The Log in the past, “It’s incredible what they [the Crowes] have been able to do over the past 30 years.”

Avery continued, “They have taken thousands of students offshore including more than 40 trips to Hawaii and other destinations, and have maintained a perfect safety record.”

While the school’s 2018 program mentioned the offshore sailing program is due to return, Avery was not available for immediate comment on whether another vessel will be donated or if other offshore sailing instructors will be appointed in the near or distant future.

OCC’s School of Sailing & Seamanship also currently owns and operates Nordic Star, OCC’s flagship vessel and charter yacht. Nordic Star was donated to the OCC Foundation by the Jerrell Barto family in 2010 and ever since has served to teach students of the Professional Mariner Program the ins and outs of operating a charter yacht.

According to the program, Nordic Star assists maritime students in gaining valuable skills desired by any maritime industry employer. The training covers subjects such as deck operations, man overboard recovery, abandon ship procedures, bridge management, engine monitoring and water management.

Acknowledging the changes coming to the School of Sailing & Seamanship have required much planning and teamwork, Avery stated, “These three initiatives are outcomes from program growth, community input, and long-term planning. It has all been possible by the support of students, donors, staff, OCC, the Coast Community College District, and the County of Orange.”

Adult and young sailor courses are provided through OCC, including courses that provide students to acquire his or her California Boater Card. Beginning Jan.1, 2018, all young adults aged 16 to 20 are required to hold a Boater Card when operating a vessel, powered sailboat, or paddlecraft alone.  By 2025, all boaters will be required to have their card.

Other notable boating courses offered through OCC are sailing courses for all levels, youth and family sailing camps, keelboating classes, cruising courses, powerboat operation, seamanship courses, and a Professional Mariner Program.

The OCC School of Sailing & Seamanship is located at 1801 W. Coast Highway in Newport Beach.

For more information and to view the school program, visit the website at or contact Sailing Program Coordinator Mette Segerblom by email at or Avery at

Photo credit: OCC School of Sailing and Seamanship

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