Docks honor 75th, will double in size

Pavilion to be bigger, safer

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Major improvements are planned for the MIT Sailing Pavilion, located on the Charles River across from Walker Memorial.
Source: Department of Facilities

Changes are coming to the MIT Sailing Pavilion next year for its 75th anniversary: the pavilion will more than double in size, some boats will be gone, and new boats will come. The costliest of these changes is the $1.6 million dock renewal project planned by the MIT Nautical Association (MITNA) for the pavilion.

Thomas E. Rose G, vice-commodore of MITNA, said that $0.7 million has already been raised, and construction may start early next year with current projections. According to Francis E. Charles Jr, the Sailing Master at the pavilion, the project is estimated to be completed in September 2011. They plan to install new floating docks that will increase the area that the pavilion currently occupies on the water from 11,170 square feet to 24,837 square feet.

Despite the significant expansion of the dock, Charles said that there is no official plan to increase the number of vessels.

Then why the new docks? Charles said that they want to put more boats out on the dock rather than in storage for increased access to an increasing number of sailors. Given the approximately 1,300 active sailing users since this July, the largest the pavilion has ever seen, Charles said that the pavilion currently serves about 20 percent of MIT students.

In addition, the new floating docks will help address the safety concerns associated with the currently fixed docks, according to Charles. After their time on the water ends, sailors are required to lean over the edge of the dock to pull up vessels and drag them up onto the deck. Charles said the elevation of the currently fixed dock is unnecessarily high, and hauling vessels can be especially dangerous when the water is low. Also, such hauling movements can cause damage to the bottom of the boats, which can be costly to repair.

Charles said the pavilion had to get permits from 23 different departments, since its location isn’t owned by MIT. However, the expansion plan didn’t meet much opposition from the Cambridge community.

“We had various groups that came and supported our expansion of our docks, because we do so much for the community outside of MIT,” Charles said, giving examples of services such as hosting junior championships and Massachusetts Special Olympics.

Another upcoming change for the sailing club is its plan to sell the 37-foot sloop known as Nevermore, which was donated about three years ago. Charles explained that they are selling it because money is needed to renovate the existing boats as part of their next project. Though there is no officially planned expansion of the number of vessels, new boats are being purchased to replace some of the existing ones. For instance, a new fleet of Fire Fly boats, which was primarily used in the UK, is coming in.

Nevermore was used for the blue-water sailing program at the pavilion, in which large groups of people can go sailing in Boston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Rose said that MITNA is looking for a donor for a new large yacht in order to continue the program.