MDI Community Sailing
Southwest Harbor
Mount Desert Island, Maine
22 Years and going strong!

The seeds of the MDI Community Sailing Center were planted in the mid-1980s on the Manset shore in Southwest Harbor. This is when a local sailor by the name of Ted Welles created an ad hoc summer junior sailing program in his own back yard. With the hope of supplying a means for both his children and others to connect with the marine environment, Ted decided to launch a non-profit organization called Oceanus Institute Inc. He then purchased two Cape Cod Bullseyes, hired a few teenage instructors and began what he named The Boating School. In the late 1980s Ted went to his alma mater, St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island, purchased their retired fleet of 12 Dragon Firefly Dinghies, brought them back to Mount Desert Island and started the first ever high school sailing team in the state of Maine. During this period the Harbor House Community Service Center in Southwest Harbor became a partner by providing administrative support as well as a meeting place for the growing school. Over the next several years The Boating School was overseen by Harbor House, with instructors hired by Ted and with help from a local sailing club called the Southwest Harbor Fleet, which loaned the program their Cape Cod Bullseyes. However, it was obvious that the program needed to find its own home and identity, and it was in a state of uncertainty in the early 1990s when Ted sadly passed away.

In 1996 Glenn Squires took the reins after attending a national US Sailing Symposium, where he learned of the concept of community sailing and networked with organizers of such programs from across the country. He then brought that concept home to Mount Desert Island, and the MDI Community Sailing Center (MDICSC) opened for its first season in a small office and classroom space at the Hinckley Great Harbor Marina in Southwest Harbor. After this first year it moved up the street to its second seasonal space, which was a bit larger, but was also quickly outgrown. He then formed a steering committee of local marine professionals who began a thorough search for a more suitable long-term home. In 1999 MDICSC’s current home was found, and a lease was signed for classroom, office, and shop and waterfront space at the Southwest Boat Marine Services complex on Clark Point Road in Southwest Harbor.

Attendance has grown from the first years of 25 youth each summer to more than 200. The MDI High School Sailing Team has called the center home throughout this journey and now has more than 40 sailors participate each spring and fall. They have also won the Maine State Championship Regatta three times. The fleet of boats has grown from four to more than 40, and the adult and family memberships have grown as well.

In 2004 The MDI Community Sailing Center and Director Glenn Squires were both recognized by the National Community Sailing Council of US Sailing as Outstanding Seasonal Program and Outstanding Director of a New Program. For a complete list of Community Sailing Awards, visit

In the spring of 2008 MDICSC incorporated and became a non-profit tax exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Stay tuned, as the story has just begun…

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