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Anacortes Community, Anacortes Waterfront And the new Community Waterfront Program Director

Anacortes, WA is the perfect location for a Community Waterfront Program. We have it all; location, wind, protected bay, a fleet of boats, Seafarer’s Memorial Park and building, a community rich in maritime history, and a large marine trade. So why don’t we have a Community Waterfront Program like other communities?

The vision has always been there. Seafarer’s Memorial Park and building were designed just for that idea — a Community Waterfront Program and Center. It has a beautiful building designed for small boat education, a place for resources, and storage for small boats, kayaks, and paddle boards. The park provides a well-designed dock and launching site, a protected area for small boaters, and a great place to have a picnic.

But, somewhere along the line, the idea stalled and the building and park, meant for small boats and community access to the water, turned into an event center or worse yet, just sits there, underutilized and fast becoming a faded memory.

Here is where the Anacortes Small Boat Center, a nonprofit started years ago and based around an idea for a Community Waterfront Center decided it was time to take matters back in hand. The first order of business — hire a Community Boating Director.

Introducing Kevin Pratt, the new Community Boating Director for Anacortes and the Executive Director for the Anacortes Waterfront Alliance.

Kevin Pratt

Kevin’s first task was to rebrand and redesign the website and logo for the Anacortes Small Boat Center, now doing business as the Anacortes Waterfront Alliance. The idea behind the name was to include all organizations involved in small boating, provide access to the water, education, and more.

Anacortes is fortunate to already have some great organizations; Anacortes OARS (Old Anacortes Rowing and Sailing Society), Hole In the Wall Paddling Club, the High School Sailing Club, Anacortes Parks and Rec sailing programs, and more. As an alliance we can now all come together as one voice and work as a team to build a waterfront community that Anacortes will enjoy, utilize, and be proud of.

We asked Kevin what intrigued him to apply for this position? His response, “I like to build things.” Kevin is a visionary, a creator, and an explorer.

He saw an obvious need for a good waterfront program for the community, a solid and steady program for youth sailing, community access to water, and a way for the community to engage with the waterfront – he saw an opportunity to build from the ground up.

When asked why he thought he was the right person for this, he chuckled, then said because he was young, willing and eager. But he forgot one important word —passionate. Kevin is passionate about the program, about the kids, about the community having access to the water, and about succeeding.

Raised in Idaho, Kevin grew up on the water. Lake Coeur d’Alene had a waterfront program with a fleet of Hobie Cats and that is where he taught himself to sail. He became hooked the day he pushed that little sailboat off the beach and sailed with the wind at his back.

Kevin started his career in Institutional Recreation as a guide assistant in rock climbing programs. One of his first jobs was working at the Salvation Army, where he helped develop an indoor rock-climbing program. In 2012, Youth Dynamics hired him. He worked his way up from guide to instructor to program manager, finally as program developer. As program developer he created a Youth Sailing Program.

“Sailing is an obvious and natural thing to be doing with kids,” Kevin said.

He learned Risk Management, developing programs and how to create documents which reflect industry standards and align with an organization’s vision and mission. In other words, he has the experience required in taking a program and building it from the ground up.

We asked Kevin how he went from rock climbing to sailing? His answer, “because rock climbers make good sailors and sailors make great climbers.”

He enjoys that both require an analytical and critical mindset, both have their own vocabulary, and they champion risk, self-sufficiency, and adventure.

For Kevin, he found rock climbing and sailing to be kindred spirits.

“Sailing is like a ball of tension barreling thru the water and understanding where those tensions are and what they’re doing. What the forces at work are doing and how they affect the boat. It is very exciting, especially for a person with an analytical mind. The same in the rock world — there are forces at play.”

In the first year, the goal is to have a successful summer of youth and adult sailing programs through Anacortes Parks and Rec. This will help solidify the programs and prepare it for future expansion.

What do the kids get out of it?

Sailing has all the aspects of adventure, risk, reward, challenge, defeat, and victory. With each set back they find an opportunity to succeed and with each victory they build strength and confidence.

“Take a 10 year old in the Beginning Sailing program and in a week teach them enough to sail the boat in the direction they wanted to go and back and had a fun time learning. That is a huge success,” Kevin said.

In the beginning the idea is to get them hooked and have fun. Enough basic understanding on where is the wind, where should their sail be and how to keep the boat moving forward. They also learn —Safety. What are the biggest hazards and how to avoid them?

In the intermediate course – they expand upon their knowledge and start the technical education.

As part of the summer sailing program through Anacortes Parks and Rec there is a Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced sailing program for youth and adults. Also, as part of the program, there are three junior instructors (from the high school sailing team) who gain experience by working with Kevin in the program.

Other goals/visions

1. Waterfront Program – Top priority is to build a Community Waterfront Program with public access to boats, paddleboats, kayaks, offer lessons, resources and rentals. Getting people out on the water, equipped with the resources and information needed.

2. To provide a healthy existence of all the various programs functioning and having them work together. All in one location.

3. Growth of our fleet, which includes kayaks, paddleboards, new youth sailing equipment.

“As a community we are village and providing access, education, and the resources to our youth secures our future and the investment (emotionally and financially) in the Anacortes Waterfront. All of the organizations involved should work together to do this.”

Final goal – to see what was envisioned come together.

“Community is really important to me. Community is not for the taking, it’s for the making.”

The Anacortes waterfront belongs to the community and we should all help preserve its future.

Visit the Anacortes Waterfront Alliance website for more information, to join, and to donate.

Created By
Karla Locke
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