Sea-Fever blog


Why I created this long post about Concordia sinking by Peter A. Mello
February 24, 2010, 11:24 pm
Filed under: maritime | Tags: , , , ,

Concordia by Wojtek Voytec Wacowski

It wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask why have I gone to great lengths to create this long post about the high school tall ship Concordia sinking. There are lots of reasons.

  1. Personal – I spent my high school years on a tall ship called Tabor Boy and launched The Tabor Boy Project, a website/living history project/social network, about that experience. So as a product of a long established, successful sail training program, I passionately believe in the power to transform young lives.
  2. Professional – I was the executive director of the American Sail Training Association from 2001 to 2008. During that period I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of different sail training vessels and tall ships from around the world.
  3. Professional/Personal – When speaking with the public or media at big tall ships events, I was invariably asked which was my favorite. As ASTA executive director, the only answer could be that “Like parents love their children,  I love them all equally.” (politically correct)  However, each sail training vessel and tall ship is unique in its own way and back on April 2, 2008, I wrote “I had the great fortune to spend my 4 years of high school sailing on a tall ship. If there was one educational sailing experience I could be jealous of, this (Class Afloat on Concordia) would be it.” By the way, I still feel that way today.
  4. Leadership – Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with Class Afloat’s founder Terry Davies and believe that it would be difficult to find another educational leader more professional and caring about young people and more knowledgeable about ships.  Similarly, my experience working with various captains and crew members of the Concordia was always very positive.  Leadership defines the success of a program and Terry Davies charted a proper course for Class Afloat.
  5. Reference – Today modern technology and media allow information to be distributed fast, far and wide. Unfortunately, accuracy isn’t always one of the characteristics but that might be a fair trade under many circumstances. Over time, inaccurate reports are generally weeded out and tossed aside.  I’ve attempted to collect as many of the stories told to and by the media as possible. Going back later and trying to find this kind of information would be a gargantuan task. Doing it in real time is slightly easier. This is the web and many of these links will die but overall the post can serve as a pretty comprehensive reference for anyone interested in learning more about the casualty.
  6. Lessons to Be Learned - The Concordia sinking is a sad story with a happy ending. And while it’s very early days in the investigation, it presents a great opportunity to try to figure out what happened without the usual high emotion that surrounds an incident involving casualties or fatalities. In some respects, this is similar to the Miracle on the Hudson. As Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “All we want are the facts” and there are more than 64 individual stories that can be told today but which over time will consolidate into one overall narrative from which we will hopefully learn some valuable lessons for the future.

Up to this post, I’ve avoided editorializing, analyzing or making any judgement about what actually happened on the Concordia on February 17, 2010. I think that I’ll continue to leave the technical analysis to the professional investigators and others with more direct experience and knowledge about these things. I will continue to collect links about the sinking but anticipate (and hope) the pace of stories slows down so that I can get back to Sea-Fever’s regularly scheduled programming.  I will also try to interpret/translate some of the technical findings so that non mariners can get a better understanding of the issues. I believe my Tabor Boy and ASTA experiences leave me well suited to the task. Finally, I will continue to champion sail training because I believe more than ever that there is no greater teaching platform than the tall ship and or campus than the sea.



Bad News Day For Maritime Heritage And Professional Mariners by Peter A. Mello

Some very bad news for tall ships, maritime heritage preservation and professional mariners today.

Plans for U.S. Brig Niagara’s sailing season could be sunk by Kevin Flowers for the Erie-Times News March 25, 2009 (download copy)

Foreclosure For Tall Ship Mystic by Joe Wojtas for The Day (New London) – March 25, 2009 (download copy)

I’ll be writing more about this later.

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Tallest Ship Brings High Hopes to Littlest State by Peter A. Mello

Oliver H. Perry by Onne Van der Wal

While the title of this post sounds a bit like a children’s story, it’s really all big business.

On January 23, 2009, Ariana Green wrote an article in the NY Times titled In Rhode Island, Hoping a Tall Ship Can Help a Sagging Economy about a nonprofit organization, Tall Ships Rhode Island, purchasing a less than half finished tall ship from a foundering Canadian organization with the hopes boosting their tiny states economy, among other things.

Tall ships in America got their start in Newport, RI back in 1973 when Barclay Warburton III, along with a group of like minded maritime enthusiasts including Bart Dunbar, also member of the current group, established a new nonprofit to advance the concept of sail training and organize the US Bicentennial Tall Ships Celebrations in 1976. The American Sail Training Association was founded and over the years has grown to become a national and international nonprofit whose mission is to “encourage character building through sail training, promote sail training to the North American public and support education under sail.” (I was the executive director of the ASTA from 2001 through 2006.)

Warburton and the ASTA founders actions were very important to the local community because up until 1973 Newport was a Navy town. However, in that year, the fleet left, the base was downsized significantly and Newport was left pondering a potentially dismal economic future. Tall Ships and the Americas Cup would end up saving the day by transforming the city into one of the sailing capital’s of the world and a maritime heritage tourism destination.

Fast forward 36 years and can the current group pull another miracle out of their duffle bag? Green writes:

As Rhode Island struggles with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates, city and state officials hope that turning the hull into a tall ship will create jobs, attract tourists and spur interest in the state’s maritime history.

“Today cities realize they benefit from having a flagship for their community,” said Timothy Walker, who teaches maritime history at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. “It’s a way to be really visible and make an impression that can travel. It can literally fly the flag for a community.”

But not everyone is aboard with an optimistic assessment:

But Jeff Bolster, a professor of maritime history at the University of New Hampshire, said officials should not overestimate the economic contribution a ship project would make.

“A vessel of this scale is not going to be a huge help to the ailing economy,” Mr. Bolster said. “It has a modest operating budget, so it alone can’t solve the state’s fiscal problems in a major way.”

It will be all very interesting to watch. This is a very experienced group being led by Captain Richard Bailey who for years ran popular sail training programs aboard the HMS Rose until to she was sold to Fox to star in Master & Commander as the HMS Surprise. Today the Rose/Surprise is part of the San Diego Maritime Museum’s fleet of historic ships.

On the downside is that the Oliver Hazard Perry is a very large ship, second only to the USCGC Barque EAGLE in the United States. Ships this size are very costly to run and often difficult to fill. While nearly anyone who has sailed aboard a tall ship will vouch for it’s power in being a life changing experience, marketing the concept to wider public has always been challenging. The current projected cost of the project is $5 million and her scheduled launch is 2011, but I have yet to see a ship of this scale come in on budget and on time. Tall Ships Rhode Island has always been good at raising money and in this economy and for the foreseeable future, they have to really count on all of the contacts, connections and tricks they can pull out of their ditty bags.

This is a very exciting project for the City of Newport, the State of Rhode Island, the entire region and even the nation. While it seems pretty ambitious in scale, it’s no less so than what Barclay Warburton III pulled off in the early 1970’s. I bet he’s looking down and giving Tall Ships Rhode Island a big Huzzah for their efforts.

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Sea(cret) Santa (4 Days Left): Sexy Women of Maritime Calendar by Peter A. Mello

Sea(cret) Santa is pleased to report that there is no recession in the North Pole and he and the elves have been busier than a crew of one-armed sailmakers. Unfortunately, his Internet connection has been down for a few days so he’s been unable to post some of his favorite maritime gift suggestions. But here’s one that should make up for the silence.

Women of Maritime 2009 CalendarAs CEO of Christmas, Santa uses new and old technology to make things run as smooth as possible. One of his favorite old school tools is the simple printed calendar and this year he’s found one that’s sure to bring a smile to every mariner’s face.  And have no worries, even Mrs. Claus approves of Women of Maritime Calendar put out by Jack Tar Magazine (Rated PG-13). Take it from Sea(cret) Santa, there’s no better way to keep track of your most important dates than having a good old calendar you want to keep coming back to. Here’s who’s inside:

January - Kim Carver of Bill of Rights, Lady Washington, Manitou and others
February – Hilary of Seaward, Corwith Cramer, Robert C. Seamans, Harvey Gamage Spirit of Massachusetts
March – Jen of HMS Bounty, Highlander Sea
April – Alysia of Hawaiian Chieftain, Lady Washington
May – Rosemary of Tole Mour, Mystic Whaler, Exy Johnson and Irving Johnson, Hawaiian Chieftain, Lady Washington
June – Cher of Lady Washington and others
July – Abigail M, works for NOAA, mostly in Alaska
August – Anne Catherine Kruger of Robert C. Seamans, Corwith Cramer, Catalyst
September – Elaine Eno of Lynx, Exy Johnson and Irving Johnson, Lady Washington, Amistad, Hawaiian Chieftain, Californian, Seaward, Bill of Rights, Kaisei
October – Cass of Zodiac, Adventuress, Lady Washington
November – Suzanne, works for fisheries, mostly in Alaska
December – Lia, a fisheries researcher

Since you probably want to learn a little more about the Women of Maritime and Jack Tar, here’s an interview with founder, managing editor and January Woman of Maritime, Captain Kim Carver…

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New Media and My Old School Ship by Peter A. Mello
November 24, 2008, 9:59 am
Filed under: maritime, sail training, social media | Tags: , , , ,

I’ve written about maritime nonprofits using social media tools recently including Tall Ship Sailing and Social Media: US Brig Niagara Video. Here’s another great example.

Spencer Ash, a junior at Tabor Academy who participates in the schools storied sail training program, created a recruitment video for the SSV Tabor Boy and put it up on YouTube over the weekend. It might not be as slick a production as SEA’s Pursue It! but it certainly speaks to you from the heart and is just as effective. I’m looking to see if I can sign up again!

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7GqLS1WJHE]
YouTube – TABOR BOY

Also, check out all of the great photos from Tabor Boy’s Maine cruise last summer that Spencer uploaded to The Tabor Boy Project.

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New Masthead for The Tabor Boy Project by Peter A. Mello

Tabor-Boy-Header-Fortier

We’ve just tacked over at The Tabor Boy Project with a new masthead (above) and color scheme. While you’re there, check out all of the great new content too!


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The Coolest “OverSeas” College Study Program on the Planet! by Peter A. Mello

SEA logo If you are a college student, or know one, who wants to make the most out of your college experience, you (they) have to check out SEA, which stands for Sea Education Association. At SEA, not only will you study “overseas” you’ll study in them too!

Located in Woods Hole, MA, USA, SEA offers semester long college accredited programs on 2 tall ships in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that challenge you intellectually and physically by combining a sailing adventure of a lifetime with the study of the deep ocean. I could go on and on about the benefits of this experience but SEA president John Bullard already made a most persuasive case here.

image

If for some crazy reason John hasn’t convinced you, maybe these short videos shot by program graduates will.

Take your academic career to new heights, literally! Better than looking at a blackboard all day in the middle of January!

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLrmKWz39Xo]
YouTube – Sailing the Pacific- 3

Imagine challenging yourself to do something outside your comfort zone and making some amazing friendships in the process.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MfjUoyvis8]
YouTube – Aloft

How about learning from touching something alive that you actually caught?

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDH0CeCsy64]
YouTube – Squid Jigging on SEA Semester

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lytxMnvyD8]
YouTube – SEA Semester class S213’s Jumbo Squid

And who said school can’t be fun? I guarantee that in the future you will think of the SEA experience more fondly than that Political Science lecture every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0xzwZg6-7s]
YouTube – S-199

Now, if you need a reason for why this might be important to you and the rest of the planet, you have to watch this video of Dr. Bob Ballard’s presentation at the February 2008 TED Conference. There is a whole new world for you to explore and there’s no better opportunity to do so than aboard an SEA tall ship.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHU8G6icwsY]
YouTube – Robert Ballard: Exploring the ocean’s hidden worlds

Finally, some sound advice from Mark Twain:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Launch your SEA adventure here!

photo credit: Meriah Berman via waynepbj on Flickr.com

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