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Couple floats idea for Forsyth County sailing center

FORSYTH COUNTY — Though it may be difficult at times to remember during the middle of an often frigid winter, summertime draws all types of watercraft to Lake Lanier.

While the vessels range from kayaks and Jet Skis to speedboats and houseboats, one couple wants to see more sailboats.

Rob and Judy James, both retired U.S. Coast Guard captains, told Forsyth’s parks and recreation board Tuesday night about their hope to launch a sailing program through the county department.

“We’d like to create a pilot program that is basically a sailing center — or boating center, if you preferred to expand it — that is hopefully at some point in time lakeside,” Judy James said.

“We think as far as feasibility goes, and putting into it to see if it would work, that the simulator is the place to start.”

The simulator resembles a mix between a boat and a mechanical bull, complete with a moving mast to teach new sailors the basics. The couple said they had taken a simulator they own to several boat shows where it always makes a splash.

“It’s land-based, it’s just a platform on which a small boat could be mounted and electrically maneuvered by the person in the boat,” Judy James said. “I’ve had teenagers and adults waiting an hour and a half for 10 minutes on the simulator, just because it’s fun.

“But it does give them a good grip of what’s going on.”

The board seemed interested in the proposal, but decided to table further discussion until its next meeting so officials could gather more information.

The James said they would eventually like to see the county build a center for sailing.