Down the docks head new sailors off on their maiden voyage. Their captains? John and Arlene Broadhurst, who seek the water to escape the rat race.
"Get away from BlackBerrys and things like that and just enjoy the wind and the weather," John said with a laugh.
They take this new crew aboard the Hell's Bells, glistening on the shores of Shelburne Bay. For most, it's their first time ever boarding a sailboat. The motions, the smells, the sounds-- all new.
"It sounded like thunder. I was like, oh, no, but it was just the wind catching the sails," said Alek Wolfe, 14.
The sailors, like Alek, are students with the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
"I have to say it's quite an experience; it's really amazing," Alek said. "It's awesome, though, because you never know where the wind is going to take you."
Taking the day to experience what a sailboat is like.
"The only way they can truly understand it is to experience it themselves, to get their hands on the sails, the mast, on anything," said Stephanie Bissonette of the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
Before they launch, they get to know the boat, filling in imagination with firsthand knowledge. Then they set sail, even taking command of the vessel.
For Alek, this is sailing.
"Just gliding across the water with no motor, it's like an airplane that just landed and drifted," he said.
For 12-year-old Jacob O'Grady who's colorblind, sailing comes in black in white.
"They let me drive it for quite a long time actually," Jacob said.
Besides getting a feel for the boat, their teachers say it helps these students understand the size of Lake Champlain, something they simply can't fathom from its shores.
"It's not what I expected; it's a lot better than I expected," Alek said.
It sometimes even leads to new discoveries.
"I want to get my own boat," Alek said. "This makes me want to get my own boat and go out on the lake."
A first-time sailor who may have found a lifetime passion.
Blind sailing races are actually a growing competitive sport across the globe. The 2013 World Blind Sailing Championships just took place in Japan and the 2014 competition is being held in Boston.
Even if they never compete, these students say they want to be back on the water soon, with the wind at their back.
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