A Beneteau First 44.7 yacht set to help veterans find their way at sea
Cameron Albin was medically discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in 2011 and did what almost any sane person would — he got himself a sailboat and a puppy, he said.
Life after serving in the military wasn’t easy, but time out on the water helped Albin feel at ease, he said.
And who doesn’t love a dog?
Fast forward several years later, Albin is working to bring that same experience to veterans and first responders living with post traumatic stress disorders through a new organization called the American Odysseus Sailing Foundation, he said.
On an overcast Monday morning in May, Albin stood astride a 2005 Beneteau First 44.7 racing yacht, preparing to take the boat in for some minor repairs.
A history teacher by day, Albin named the yacht, which is docked in Kemah, with meaning. Athena, after all, was the Greek goddess of wisdom who helped Odysseus find his way home after the Trojan War, Albin said.
The boat bearing Athena’s name will, with any luck, serve the same job for veterans some 2,000 years later, Albin said.
“Sailing saved me,” he said. “It can offer unique help.”
The Beneteau First 44.7 yacht was designed by the prestigious Annapolis-based Farr Yacht Design firm and won the Sailing World Boat of the year when it was first designed.
Albin found the Athena languishing at the Kemah Boardwalk Marina after the original owner had been unsuccessfully trying to sell it, he said. Albin was drawn to the specific features of the model, such as two staterooms on both sides of the boat, as well as ample space for cooking and storing supplies.
Albin hasn’t yet had a chance to see how fast the boat can go at maximum speed with the wind at its back, but he took it from Kemah down to Galveston and reached a speed of 9 knots, he said.
The coronavirus pandemic has delayed how much Albin and crew have been able to spread the word about the foundation and its efforts to get more veterans out on the water.
Albin estimated the organization has taken about 20 veterans out so far on three different outings.
The goal, at this point, isn’t to provide formal sailing training to veterans, so much as to just get them out on the water and provide a chance to relax, Albin said.
With any luck, Albin hopes to enter a crew of veterans into the Harvest Moon Regatta out of Galveston later this year, he said.