A 30-foot open sailboat serves as both home and classroom on this invigorating six-day ocean journey, designed specifically for veterans. This expedition is all about overcoming challenges in the subtropical marine wilderness of Florida Bay, the Gulf of Mexico and the remote reaches of the Everglades. In a phased teaching progression, instructors introduce beginning, intermediate and advanced skills in chart and compass navigation, small boat seamanship, weather observation and anchoring. Regular group discussions allow for reflection on each day’s progress, and ensure that leadership and onboard responsibilities are shared so that every crewmember is integral to planning the next day. As participants live and work closely together, they practice more than seamanship. Veterans return home to families, careers and communities with valuable skills, renewed confidence and a fresh sense of purpose.
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions build on camaraderie and the challenge of the natural world as a pathway to healing. These expeditions encourage participants to connect with existing strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, mission-driven environment. As they harness the power of wartime experiences like carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside, these courses help build the self-confidence and sense of purpose veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
- Build core skills: Veterans receive hands-on training on expedition and personal skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain communication skills, establish trust and validate experiences among other veterans.
- Practice Outward Bound values: Instructors focus on Outward Bound core values like compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and live in the present moment.
- Process and Reflect: Journaling, one-on-one and group discussions help veterans understand how Outward Bound experiences might translate to coping skills back home.
- What participants learn: Veterans return home inspired, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to society.
Our traditional 30-foot sailboats encourage teamwork and leadership like no other classroom. On an open boat with no cabin and no engine, participants live closely together, using only wind and oars as propulsion. As they rotate responsibilities, participants learn the crafts of maneuvering under sail, coastal navigation, rowing and living aboard a small open boat. At night, the group sleeps on deck under a tarp, taking turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies.
Participants will learn to:
- Adjust sails properly for sailing at different angles to the wind and execute sailing maneuvers like tacking and gybing, which turn the boat through the wind.
- Navigate using a chart and compass to arrive accurately at the day’s destination using techniques that include taking bearings, dead reckoning, triangulation and sounding.
- Move the boat under oars, coordinating all of the rowers' movements so that the oars splash as one and precisely maneuvering in and out of secluded anchorages.
- Live (cook, eat, sleep, work and learn) as a team aboard a small open sailboat.
Home to numerous birds and abundant marine life, the Florida Keys are rich with the confluence of water flowing out of the Everglades into inner Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterways are shallow and intricate, providing an exciting cruising area for our nimble sailboats. Winding channels through the backcountry offer challenging shoal draft navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, grassy tidal flats and coral "patch" reefs. The Atlantic side offers open water sailing and, in calm weather, excellent snorkeling at the outer reefs. Turquoise waters, warm temperatures and prevailing easterly winds provide exceptional sailing, both day and night.