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East Haven’s Art Andrea shares his lifetime of experience sailing the Sound with students through the America’s Boating Course. (Photo courtesy of Art Andrea )
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Arthur “Art” Andrea will be back in the classroom this January teaching an ABC class.
But he’s not a Kindergarten teacher. He’s an educational officer for the New Haven Sail & Power Squadron (NHSPS).
America’s Boating Course (ABC), which will take place in East Haven at the Bradford Manor Firehouse, starts on Tuesday, Jan. 21. The class runs for six weeks and teaches participants basic boating techniques and how to operate a personal watercraft.
The program “teaches people how to handle a boat safely and provides them with their boating certificate,” Art says.
The certificate is a state requirement for anyone operating a vessel in Connecticut waters for more than 60 days a year.
“When you go out on the water and the Coast Guard or police stop you, you have to present” your certificate, Art notes.
The certificate, and the knowledge gained from the course, also helps “if your boat breaks down or the Coast Guard does a safety check on your boat,” he adds.
Art’s understanding of the safety requirements for those navigating the waters of Connecticut stems from his time spent on the water as a sailor, his longtime involvement with the NHSPS, and commitment to ensuring public safety.
Presently a volunteer firefighter with the East Haven Fire Department, Art had a 29-year career working for Sikorsky Aircraft’s Fire Services Department.
In this capacity, he inspected fire equipment, maintained fire prevention systems such as fire sprinklers, and worked different shifts as it pertained to fire and rescue.
His greatest reward in his past career and now as a volunteer in his hometown is “protecting the area—serving the public,” Art says.
“You fight like heck [during your shift] and then at the end of the day, you sit down and have a beer and talk about what’s what,” he adds.
Art’s affable nature is readily apparent as he describes the mutual support of firefighting. Joining in a fellowship of like-minded individuals, whether it be in his professional life, or in sailing, permeates his disposition.
“The [sailing] races are a lot of fun—it’s camaraderie,” he says. “After the race, as a crew, we go out to eat. We talk about the different boats and where we goofed up. It’s a learning curve for everybody. I’m still learning after all these years.”
Art started sailing as a child.
“My parents and I lived by the shore, and one weekend the landlord came by and asked if he could take me out sailing,” he says.
From that point, Art says “I just found my niche. It was a lot of fun.”
The size of his sailboats has increased over the years, from a 26-foot craft that he had for four years to his current 36-foot Catalina.
Although he admits “there are a lot of moving parts [to sailing], once you get everything set, it’s fine,” he says.
As someone who has sailed in the waters of Long Island Sound his entire life, Art is especially adept at picking up on the subtleties of weather that can make a difference.
“I was doing a race and the wind died out,” Art says. “I said to the guys—there were four of us—’Let’s get ready.’ They said, ‘What are you talking about?’”
With an ever-watchful eye on the sky and the water, Art was able to connect ripples in the water with a change in the winds that day.
“The wind and the water will tell you everything, especially when you’re sailing,” says Art.
Art suggests that anyone operating a watercraft should take a weather class with the NHSPS or take advantage of other class offerings.
“Education for boaters is very important,” Art says. “I suggest that people advance their boating knowledge, join the power squadron…attend our classes. We have the best [classes] out there.”
Art joined the NHSPS, which is a part of the United States Power Squadrons (USPS), a national nonprofit boating organization, in the late ‘90s, at the advice of a family member.
“I started going to meetings, and eventually they put me on the executive board based on my qualifications,” Art says.
Art’s passion for sailing coupled with his skills as a firefighter and EMT made him the perfect candidate to eventually serve as the New Haven Squadron’s commander.
He is currently involved with three different ranks of the USPS. He serves as staff commander at the national level, is an executive officer for the district, and is an educational officer for the New Haven squadron.
At the District Conference in November 2019, Art and his team’s accomplishments in promoting boating education were recognized with the Everett M. Lebel Education Achievement Award.
Art has been teaching classes on boating safety for the past 12 years and says that today, “the main thing is personal flotation devices. That’s the biggest thing,” he says.
He also recommends that boaters carry a fire extinguisher, flares, life rings and a VHF radio, all of which aligns with the USPS’ national standard.
In 2014, Art and other members of the NHSPS held a dinner dance to celebrate the organization’s 100th anniversary.
As it is the oldest continuously operated squadron in the USPS, Art says “it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
The New Haven Sail and Power Squadron America’s Boating Course begins Tuesday, Jan. 21, for five to six weeks at 6:30 p.m. at the Bradford Manor Firehouse, 85 George Street, East Haven. The cost for the course is $65. For more information or to register, contact Past District Commander Art Andrea, 203-641-0954 or email@example.com.
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