Friends and supporters of the St. Thomas Sail and Power Squadron gathered Sunday morning at Honeymoon Beach on Water Island for the group’s 25th Change of Watch ceremony.
The annual event marks the start of a yearlong term of service for incoming Commander Roxanne Lettsome and her four bridge officers. A bridge officer harkens back to the days of the tall ships, when the officer of the deck was stationed on the bridge and was in charge of the navigation and safety of the ship. An appropriate title, in that the Power Squadron’s primary role is that of educating boaters on marine safety through free boating courses in navigation, advanced piloting, boat handling and other marine related topics.
Squadron members are also trained and qualified to conduct free vessel safety inspections. Members assist boaters in securing vessels during hurricane season, and two members serve as port captains.
“My goal is to build our groups’ membership while teaching other marine organizations the value of a complete boater safety program” said Lettsome. “We teach the basics you should know before you go boating.”
In upholding the St. Thomas Squadron’s longstanding tradition, the local oath of command ceremony was conducted in knee-deep water before fellow members and family, and conducted by representatives of District 33 Command from Puerto Rico.
The local association has 43 active members and is a part of the United States Power Squadron, the largest all-volunteer, not-for-profit, boating education organization in the U.S.
On St. Thomas, the squadron supports civic organizations such as the make a Wish Foundation and Clear Blue Sky, an organization protecting the well-being of local residents living with mental illness.
“Boating is fun, we’ll show you how,” said out going Commander Lawrence Benjamin. “You should be able to enjoy the process while you are learning, that is our goal”
As a not-for-profit organization, the squadron generates funding by hosting an annual flea market, walk-a-thon and collecting public parking donations at the annual Chili Cook Off. Social events and fellowship play a large roll in the organization, with such event as the annual Lighted Boat Parade and various events throughout the year.
The 2013 Sail and Power Squadron Officers are Commander Roxanne Lettsome, Executive Officer Aswad A. Ojore, Administrative Officer Victoria Bernett, Education Officer Tom McCoy, Treasurer Christian Boschulte, Secretary Lloyd Romeo
The Executive Committee will be Lawrence Benjamin, Maurice Donovan, Alfred Howell and Wayne Fredericks.