Frequently Asked Questions


How do Martha's Vineyard and nantucket benefit from the FUEL program?

Not that long ago, ships from the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket could be found on any of the world’s oceans. As a transition into adulthood, young islanders went to sea to learn valuable skills, see the world, and discover themselves.

Today, few maritime opportunities exist for island youth and many are struggling with their transition to adulthood. Drug
abuse, apathy and depression are plaguing this demographic. Moreover, alcohol consumption and depression rates on Martha’s Vineyard are higher than national averages with rates for young adults among the highest. The FUEL Program offers an alternative.

The FUEL Program helps young adults transition to adulthood, the same way great ships from these islands once did. Students will develop practical skills onboard the ship as they progress from passengers to crew to officers. They will become active leaders, team members, and future ambassadors of the islands while they discover the world and their own potential.


Why not buy or lease an existing ship instead of building a new one?

The FUEL Program requires a sailing ship that can:

  1. Carry 30 students.

  2. Facilitate our curriculum.

  3. Be certified by the USCG as an ocean-going sailing school vessel.

We have searched extensively for a ship that meets the above criteria without success. Fortunately, Captain Bob Douglas, advisor has donated to FUEL his plans for a sailing ship that is ideal for our program.


What is a developmental adventure program?

The primary purpose of a developmental adventure program is to change behaviors (plus thinking and feeling) through intermediate facilitation techniques that guide the integration of learning into daily life. Developmental adventure programming demonstrates and practices successful ways to interact with others and is aimed at improving functional behaviors and training people to behave in new or different ways through adventure.


Are there programs already doing this?

The FUEL Program will be the first to combine study abroad and experiential learning on a first class traditional sailing ship. Additionally, the FUEL Program aims to be the first sailing school program accredited by the Association of Experiential Education (AEE).


how much experience is there behind this program?

The FUEL Program's co-founders Captain Casey Blum and Captain Ian Ridgeway have worked in sailing education for over 30 years collectively. Our advisory board is made up of world renowned experts in the fields that contribute to our program including experiential learning, outdoor education, study abroad, deep sea voyaging, conventional sailing, ship design, and fundraising. To see, specifically, who is involved click here or click the "team" tab above.


Who will teach the curriculum?

Working with world renowned author, educator, and researcher Michael Gass, Ph.D., LMFT, our program director is designing our curriculum to be taught onboard by the ship's officers and crew. The courses will be approved and monitored by an academic advisory committee that includes leading experts Michael Gass, Dan Garvey, Anita Tucker, and more.


how will learners get credits?

Credits will be awarded through a school of record. As an example, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) uses the University of Utah as their school of record.


How will the program meet its costs?

We are running a comprehensive campaign for the construction of our ship as well as an endowment for future capital expenses. Learners will pay a tuition for their semester to the FUEL Program. The program can meet its annual operating budget with less than 50% capacity.


Have more questions?
We would love to hear from you.
Phone (774) 563-0731 | Email ian@buildtheship.org