Sail training diary – Day 1 onboard the Sloop Providence

This week I’m going to post about something a little different.

The Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation is one of Sea-Fever Consulting LLC’s clients and today we launched a new sail training program aboard the Continental Sloop Providence for a group of teens from Middletown, RI. This program was made possible by a grant from the American Sail Training Association and is part of their Tall Ships Youth Adventure Program.

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ASTA’s Tall Ships Youth Adventure Program was the result of a federal appropriation under the US Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and is categorized as a demonstration project. This funding was secured and program created when I was executive director of the American Sail Training Association. Enough of that, let’s get on to the good stuff.

The first day of the program was designed to be a dockside orientation with a tour of historic Fort Adams. Most of these young people had never been sailing before, so we wanted to ease them into the program. After welcoming the group aboard and making a round of introductions, the youth took a quick quiz in order to record their knowledge of sailing, history and geography of Narragansett Bay. There were a few grumbles about this being a quiz-free summer but everybody cooperated without hesitation after learning that measuring the effectiveness of important to the people who made this opportunity available to them. We still figure a bribe reward might help, so crew member Jonathan handed out Sloop Providence Pirates of the Caribbean t-shirts as trainee uniforms.

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PMHF board member Col. Bruce Livingston gave a brief history of the vessel from John Paul Jones to the construction of the current Sloop to her role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. We broke the group into 2 watches (port and starboard) and the crew, lead by the first mate Chris, did a great job in providing tours of the boat. Next, all grabbed lunch and headed over to Fort Adams.

We wanted to give the young trainees a sense of place in Newport harbor and greater Narragansett Bay so a tour of the fort seemed appropriate. We wanted them to experience the fort from the inside before seeing it from the deck of the Continental Sloop Providence, one of America’s first warships. Each got a copy of Discover Fort Adams – Tunnel Rat Patch Program which is a twelve page pamphlet which presents 13 multi-part questions about what they were taught during the hour long tour. One of the coolest things, figuratively and literally, was transiting the fort tunnels. Upon leaving the fort, we found a pavilion that offered some shade and a little breeze and teachers Janice and David Roeher organized a quiz competitions between the port and starboard watches. In what is sure to be the first of many heated competitions. Starboard beat port.

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We made our way back to the Sloop Providence where Captain JC Parker took out a chart of Narragensett Bay and really engaged each of the watches with thoughts about where we may sail to over the next four days. First mate Chris and crew member Heather ran a knot tying clinic on the poop deck with the other watch. Soon buses arrived and the group departed. End of Day One.

Was it successful? I think so. Could we do some things better, definitely. Due to circumstances, we had to design the first day dockside. However, this limitation opened up the opportunity to experience Fort Adams. There were a few dull spots during the day but the Roehers did a great job in keeping the kids focused. I can’t say enough good things about the performance of the crew of the Sloop Providence. Without a script and with no lead time, Captain Parker, First Mate Chris and the other members of the crew did a fantastic job orienting the group for the adventure that lays ahead. Kudos to all.

Tomorrow we head to sea!

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Peter A. Mello

Husband, father, son. Lifelong mariner, student of leadership, photographer. Professional creative placemaker.

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