August 11th, 2017Instructor Spotlight: Stewart! by Heather Grosso Where would we be without our sailing instructors? Quality & energetic instructors & teachers make our programs engaging and memorable. They are essential to all we do and we can’t forget to thank our team who provides the knowledge and skills needed to set sail. All sailors have stories to tell, so it is only right to hear those of our very own instructors. This month we share the spotlight with Keelboat Instructor, Stewart Meyers. Stewart grew up in Fanwood, New Jersey and spent his summers on Mill Neck Creek in Bayville. Growing up sailing, his father built a 14ft boat called a Penguin, which he sailed all over Long Island Sound. “One time, a friend and I sailed the Penguin out to Riverhead and camped out on the beach. In those days, there were no vineyards in Riverhead, just potato farms. We hitchhiked into town. I think, we both were about 15 years old… People were amazed when we sailed, one time into a harbor, and said we were from Oyster Bay. They said, ‘What, are you crazy? In that small boat?’” After graduating high school, Stewart attended college at West Virginia Wesleyan where he studied Chemistry, admittedly he did not enjoy math and even avoided Calculous at all cost. Stewart graduated college at the height of the Vietnam War and was drafted in January 1968 where he spent a year in a combat zone, which after that experience he was happy to get back home. Upon his return, Stewart started his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a production chemist, making penicillin derivatives. Throughout his career as a chemist, Stewart worked for a couple of different companies ultimately moving into a research position as a medicinal chemist at Sandoz (now Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation). After thirty-five years as a chemist, Stewart is happy to say that he never had to use Calculus. When asked what his fondest sailing experience was, Stewart remembered a time about thirty years ago sailing to Bermuda on a 40ft Sparkman Stevens designed boat. He sailed with friends, departing from Northport. Around Montauk, they spotted a noteworthy nuclear submarine. Most of Stewart’s sailing experience has been in small boats. He owns a Force Five and Sunfish but has experienced sailing a Cal 20, J 24 and several other boats. When asked his favorite boat to sail, Stewart chose the Sonar, which coincidently, we sail here at the WFC. “My first experience in a Sonar was a revelation. I had sailed one at Seawanaka when I was around 18. A friend was a member and we went out in the sound. This was the first time I sailed in a keelboat.” A sailor’s experience is not necessarily based off the size of the boat that they sail, and Stewart is proof of that. “Larger boats don’t interest me. You’re higher off the water and lose the responsive feel of the tiller.” Stewart is a fan favorite at the Waterfront Center, from his always positive attitude to fun and informative sailing instruction. He teaches many of our keelboat courses including the Veterans on Water (VOW) program and ZigZag Adaptive sailing. For Stewart, working at the Waterfront Center is a whole different dynamic than working in a lab. Luckily for us Stewart enjoys working at WFC as much as we love having him on our team! “I find working at the WFC very interesting. You never know who you’re going to interact with. Everyone has a different story based on their experiences in life; this is what I find interesting. I was lucky to find the WFC after my retirement.” We are glad to have Stewart as a part of our team & thank him for the job well done.