New boats a real gift

21:23, Dec 22 2013
LAUNCH TIME: One of the six Freemason-funded cadet dinghies takes to the sea for the first time at a celebration to thank The Potter Masonic Trust and Waiheke Lodge. The launch was held at Shelly Beach this month.

More kids will learn to sail this summer thanks to a $30,000 gift from the Potter Masonic Trust.

Six new sailing dinghies have been given to the First Waiheke Sea Scouts along with a safety boat that is due to arrive at the Shelly Beach Rd headquarters in the new year.

The trust is part of the freemasonry movement and its donation was made through Freemasons Lodge Waiheke.

Sea Scouts' parents say the new boats will make a big difference because the troop's four 60-year-old cutters are hard to maintain and unwieldy for youngsters.

"Sailing is fun, like a new skill. But not everyone got into a boat before the new ones arrived so it was quite limiting," 13-year-old Scout Georgie Halstead says.

Constant breakdowns meant only two of the old boats were available at any one time, says dad Stuart Halstead, one of the troop's dozen leaders.


"Two cutters don't cut it."

Now he and his family are anticipating happy holidays using the new lighter boats that are easier for Halstead youngsters Georgie and Max, 9, to get out on the water.

Max's friend and fellow Cub, Jamie Walden, 9, also thinks they will make a difference.

"I'm looking forward to summer," he says.

The boats will be used by more than 100 Keas, Cubs, Scouts and - eventually - older teen Venturers.

Stuart says lots of parents need to be involved so there is always room for new members to enjoy the boatshed and new toys.

"It forces me to get out of my comfort zone, sailing to Hauraki Gulf islands, going to the annual regatta in Whangaparaoa, and having rowing races. It's extremely good fun."

Long-time member Paul Walden, who is also Waiheke Local Board chairman, applauds the logic behind the gift.

"The significant thing for me is to see a locally based charity such as the Waiheke Freemasons recognising a positive thing happening with young people in the community and wanting to support it."

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