Most kids complain about summer school—but the 12 young men who’ll be enrolled in Summer Yacht School, sure won’t, as they’ll be living and working aboard the megayacht Amazing Grace.
Summer Yacht School is being offered by Safe Harbor Maritime Academy, a Christian residential education program established in 1984 in Jacksonville, Florida for teenage boys who are having behavior problems at home and at school. The founders, Douglas and Robbie Smith, got the idea when they were preparing for a world cruise aboard their own sailboat and were asked to take in some troubled boys. Under Safe Harbor, teens work and live aboard donated boats and yachts, learning to operate and maintain them, and sometimes even helping repair them. As you can imagine, the program further teaches them leadership skills.
Summer Yacht School marks the first time that a megayacht will be part of the learning and working experience. Over 90 days, the 12 boys participating will learn piloting skills, engine and equipment maintenance, galley cooking skills, and more aboard Amazing Grace. They’ll live aboard Amazing Grace in the process, assisted by the Smiths as well as a professional megayacht crew.
“Sailing and boating and going to sea is often romanticized (and it can be romantic), but it also requires knowledge, respect, self-reliance, and perseverance,” says Robbie Smith. “These are the same principles and qualities that help at-risk boys get back on track.” Douglas Smith adds, “We’re excited to offer what we believe to be the first of its kind summer program for adolescents to live, learn, work, and play aboard a megayacht. This can be a one-of-a-kind summer experience, or it might be the beginning of a career.
The 114-foot Amazing Grace came to be part of the Safe Harbor program in 2010, when she was donated by an anonymous owner. The megayacht was originally built by Derecktor Shipyards in 1993 as MITseaAH.
Summer Yacht School will additionally include boat-handling, scuba, and fishing lessons aboard a 50-foot Hatteras belonging to Safe Harbor.