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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

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A day on the water

Published 10:10 am, Thursday, July 31, 2014

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  • Ashwka Ravindranth, left, and Nadjasmine Rei took part in the annual Boat Camp off the coast of Darien on July 25. Photo: Megan Spicer / Darien News
    Ashwka Ravindranth, left, and Nadjasmine Rei took part in the annual Boat Camp off the coast of Darien on July 25. Photo: Megan Spicer

 

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Ashwka Ravindranth wants to name Paul Johnson's boat Sky Walker.

"Looks like we have a Star Wars fan on board," Johnson said from behind the wheel of his boat July 25.

"Nope," 8-year-old Ravindranth said from the bow. "When you go fast, it feels like you're up in the sky!"

Ravindranth and Nadjasmine Rei, 9, took part in the annual Boat Camp in Darien. Campers from Stamford's Camp ROSCCO and Camp Quisqueya of St. John's Episcopal Church spent the day on the water and explored some of the islands off the coast of Connecticut.

Many, if not most, of the campers had never been on a boat. That was the case for Rei, who moved with her family to Stamford after the 2010 earthquakes ravaged Haiti.

She's never been on a boat and never learned to swim, but that didn't stop her from taking the wheel at Johnson's insistence and driving the unnamed vessel for a short while.

Ravindranth, who went on a boat when she was in Florida with her family, wanted the craft to go fast. A smile was permanently affixed to her face throughout the day. She also had the opportunity to drive.

It was while Johnson was steering his boat slowly through Five Mile River that the two girls learned that his boat didn't have a name. They had been reading the names of the boats that were docked or moored on the river.

So Johnson commissioned them to think of a name for his boat.

Along with Sky Walker, the girls also thought of Wind Speeder, Jellyfish Jumper ("Because when we go fast, it's like we're jumping on the water," Ravindranth said.), The Great White and Speed Racer.

Boat Camp is sponsored by Person-to-Person, the Noroton Yacht Club and the Darien Sail & Power Squadron. This year, 23 boaters participated, more than any other year. Boat Camp is an annual event that gives approximately 100 summer campers from Stamford the opportunity to be on Long Island Sound for the day.

As all the boats left from the Noroton Yacht Club -- and under the fire boat's hose stream -- and onto Long Island Sound, Johnson, who is president of the Darien Boat Club, made his way toward Five Mile River. The rumor was that there was a "retired pirate" who now lived on land.

Once Johnson entered the no-wake zone -- about which he taught the campers, as well as the names for the different areas of the boat -- he blew an air horn.

In return, the "retired pirate" sounded her air horn. The retired pirate is a woman who used to go out on her boat during the camp, but has, of late, stayed on shore along Five Mile River.

The campers, accompanied by their counselor, "Miss Nancy," also had the opportunity to explore Sheffield Island and its lighthouse. They also explored Zeigler's Cove, where they met more "pirates," who threw candy on Johnson's boat for the campers.

Lunch was on one of the three Fish Islands, which are on the market along with the property at 23 Contentment Island. The future of the island's availability to the public is uncertain. The previous owners, the Felders, allowed boaters to stop on the islands. However, new owners do not have to be as welcoming because the islands are private property.

The excursion ended with a ride down to Stamford when Johnson allowed the girls to drive the boat again, before turning back for the Noroton Yacht Club.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNews