Today’s (Monday, July 9th) Portsmouth Herald has a great article by Susan Nolan about the power of sail training.
Captain Liam Keating, the skipper of the tall ship Prince William, one of 4 tall ships that visited Portsmouth, NH this weekend, tells a great story about how a young man’s life was changed by a sail training experience several years ago. Nolan writes:
When Keating joined the Prince William five years ago, a young man from Dublin named Paul was on one of his first voyages. Paul had scars on his body from cigarette burns and from being bitten by his alcoholic father, Keating said. But the voyage on the Prince William changed the young man’s life. In fact, it changed the lives of Paul’s entire family.
The Christmas after his summer voyage, Paul sent Keating a card.
“He said his dad joined (Alcoholics Anonymous) and life is wonderful.”
A year ago — four years after Paul’s trip on the Prince William — Keating ran into Paul in Dublin. At first he did not recognize the young man, who was wearing a suit and a tie. But Paul recognized Keating. He had been searching for him. He had just graduated from college with a degree in electrical engineering and had just received his first paycheck. He handed the check to Keating and insisted he take it. Someone had paid for his voyage to help him when he needed it, Paul told Keating. He wanted to sponsor another young person, just as he had been sponsored, he said.
“I still get choked up sometimes when I tell it today,” Keating said. “To me, that’s the heart of sail training.”
It’s the reason he does it.
It’s not unusual to hear stories about sail training transforming a life the way Paul’s was. Organizations like the Tall Ships Youth Trust, who own and operate the Prince William and Stavros S. Niarchos, offer young people the opportunity for adventure, challenge and self discovery. Many programs are focused on youth from underserved or disadvantaged communities where this life changing experience has the potential to make all the difference in the world to a young person’s life.