Sail training diary – Day 4 – Fair Wind and Plenty of It

We could not have ordered better weather this week. Each day the wind has grown a little stronger which has allowed our fine trainees the opportunity to handle lines and improve their skills. There wasn’t a breath of air this morning when we arrived at the vessel but as we motored out to Castle Hill the breeze began to freshen; ultimately we ended up having perfect conditions to get the Sloop Providence up to a respectable speed.

Day 4 - handling the jib sheets

Yesterday we decided the Roehrs and I would arrive at the vessel about 30 minutes after the trainees. Now that a pre-sail routine had been established, we wanted to see what initiative and leadership would be exercised in our absence. Not only did our group immediately get to work on readying the ship, but they also completed the prior day’s challenge and elected watch leaders for the day. I don’t think that we were missed! :-) When I arrived at the vessel this morning it was exciting to see 3 trainees out on the jib boom unstopping the headsails with the professional crew.

Day 4 - learning the ropes

After 2 days of sailing, the trainees are really coming together as a team. The watches are learning their lines and taking increasing responsibility in tacking the vessel. The Providence crew has done an amazing job in educating the trainees and giving them room to practice their new found skills.

Day 4 - on the helm

One of the highlights of the day for me was watching one of the young women take the helm for the last half hour of sailing and then all the way through the vessel being made fast to the pier. This brought back a number of memories from when I was her age and on the helm of the SSV Tabor Boy while Cap Glaeser barked the orders “hard left, hard right, midships, hard left, steady” and so on. Frightening but incredibly empowering at the same time.

We did experience our first program’s casualty today which was very difficult and disappointing. A young man who missed the first day but has been sailing since just would not participate and became a significant distraction and potential safety hazard. After giving him an opportunity to rejoin his watch and perform the duties of the ship, which he refused, it was decided that he would not be able to return to the program.

This was a very difficult decision because one of the reasons we wanted to create a program like this was to assist young people going through difficult times. However, the work of the education team was negatively impacted and the learning opportunities for the group were threatened. In th end, for this group and program, I believe it was the right decision, tough as it was.

Tonight is an overnight “expedition” and tomorrow is the parent / guardian sail. More later.

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Peter A. Mello

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

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