The Privilege of Sailing

(Cross posted in The Tabor Boy Project and the Sea-Fever blog)

Those of us who have sailed on the SSV Tabor Boy are, by nearly anyone’s measure, “privileged.” We were privileged to have been given an opportunity to participate in a unique life changing experience and we took advantage of it. Most of us were also privileged in that we grew up in middle or upper middle class families that could afford to send us to Tabor Academy, a school that offers an incredible education and so many other valuable life forming experiences.

That sailing is often equated with privilege is unfortunate because young people from every socioeconomic background can benefit from participating in the sport. In fact, an effective argument can be made that those less “privileged” would have the most to gain from the experience.

There are few activities that teach young people so many important lessons about life the way sailing does: cause and effect, problem-solving, math and science, teamwork, sportsmanship, respect and much more. Participation in a sail training program elevates many of the social characteristics of sailing and creates a very effective platform for learning about leadership in the process.

In last month’s Cruising World magazine, Kitty Martin wrote a great article about a school approximately 200 miles away from Marion and a much greater distance divide in so many other respects. However, the common thread between the 2 schools is their strong connection to the sea and the incredible power that it has to change young lives. Continue reading The Privilege of Sailing

Tall Ship Tales – Old and New

The natural order of things calls for change and renewal from time to time. The old is replaced by the new but tradition still carries on. At least that is the case with sail training and tall ships. Over the past few days there have been several interesting stories in the media about the rich history and the promising future of sail training.

First on Saturday there will be an auction of a collection belonging to Captain Arthur Kimberly, former owner and “skipper” of the storied Brigantine Romance. You can read the Monroe News article about the auction here.

There is an interesting website devoted to the Romance which you should check out. On it there is a 1996 letter from Captain and Mrs. Kimberly about the demise of the vessel in Hurricane Luis in 1995 in which they write:

Romance was our only home from 1966 to 1989. Together we sailed extensively through the South Pacific, and twice around the world. She carried stuns’ls –the extra wings of the clipper ship era, as she does in the photo above–for 26 straight days crossing the South Atlantic in 1977, a modern record which may never be broken. Her Caribbean cruises gave thousands a chance, if they wished, to “pull braces” before the mast in square rig. She made boys into men; Masters and Mates of many of today’s sailing vessels. They are her finest legacy.

Check out the guest / crew list where you’ll find a number of industry leaders like Captain Dan Moreland of the Barque Picton Castle, Bert Rogers, executive director of Ocean Classroom Foundation and other who continue the tradition of changing lives at sea under sail.

Over the past few days there have also been a number of articles in the Charleston Post & Courier about the new sail training vessel Spirit of South Carolina. This has been a very exciting project to watch, especially over the past few years with the arrival of the dynamic team of Brad and Meaghan Van Liew. You may recognize Brad as a past winner of the Around Alone Race. The Van Liews have energized a project by raising much needed funds, finishing construction of a beautiful vessel, assembling a strong team of professional sailors and educators, and communicating a compelling vision to their community. The Palmetto state is lucky to have a finest kind vessel with world class leadership.

Finally, I launched The Tabor Boy Project a little over a week ago with very little promotion and no real expectations. Well, it is developing into a very interesting website. There are a few stories and some great photos and I am sure that more are on the way. One of the most interesting things is that The Tabor Boy Project currently has members from the Class of 1962 to the Class of 2008! That nearly half a century of life changing sail training experiences! As the site develops and additional stories are told, we’ll learn more about Tabor Boy, sail training and maybe even ourselves.

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The Tabor Boy Project – Storytelling and Living History

The Tabor Boy Project

I just launched a new website called The Tabor Boy Project. 

Part storytelling project, part social network, all experiment!

As long as humankind has gone to sea, incredible stories have been told upon a ship’s return to port.

A community is an accumulation of stories told. In keeping with this long maritime tradition, The Tabor Boy Project is an online community that invites you to tell your sea stories, photos and videos.

Please visit and join in the conversation. If you have EVER sailed aboard the schooner Tabor Boy in any capacity (student, crew, parent, guest, Sea Ranger, etc.) you MUST tell your story. 

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Sea Stories – Changing Lives, Saving Lives

Over the past few years there have been several great stories of young people participating in sail training programs and ending up in a real adventures saving lives at sea. A few come to mind:

Sea Scout vessel Argus rescuing a scuba diver left behind

St. George’s School’s Geronimo rescuing a Polish sailor that had fallen off an ocean bound freighter

Sea Education Association’s rescue of some Haitian refugees.

Last week, a group of students from the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy were participating in a educational sailing adventure aboard the three master schooner Denis Sullivan when one of them spotted a flare on the horizon. It turned out to be  from three fisherman in dire need of help.  Riviera students on educational voyage help rescue imperiled boaters (Check out all of the comments) and Youth, school reap rewards for rescue.

In the January issue of Soundings Trade Only, Beth Rosenberg wrote a great article about the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy. At this charter school, nuts plus bolts equals jobs. This is a great program that demonstrates a valuable partnership between the maritime industry and traditional high school education. It helps fill a niche that benefits employers and the youth involved.

For young people, going to sea under sail is truly a life changing experience. The risk of the adventure can be directly correlated to the impact that it will have on the participant’s lives long into the future. Saving human lives in peril is a time honored responsibility and obligation of going to sea and the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy students will never forget their brief experience aboard the Denis Sullivan.

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Book Review – The Go Point by Michael Useem

Over the past week we have been on a family vacation in Grand Cayman staying in beautiful condo in the Rum Point section of the island and minutes walk away from the beach. This is our first trip here and I can’t recommend it enough. (Blog and photos.)

The Go PointIt’s also a great place to read and I finally had the chance to sit down with Michael Useem’s newest book, The Go Point. I am really interested in his work and enjoyed several of his earlier books including Upward Bound: Nine Original Accounts of How Business Leaders Reached Their Summits (with Paul Asel), Leading Up: How to Lead Your Boss So You Both Win and The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for All of Us.

Michael Useem is the Wiliam and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, as well as the director of its Center for Leadership and Change Management.

In October 2005, I had the good fortune to participate in Wharton’s Executive Education Program The Leadership Journey which is lead by Professors Useem and Greg Shea. As its name implies, its is a weeklong intensive experience uniquely exploring leadership from academic and personal perspectives. This was clearly one of the most significant adult learning experiences that I have ever had and I was looking forward to reading The Go Point. Continue reading Book Review – The Go Point by Michael Useem

Life’s lessons learned under sail

Picton CastleToday I came across a great blog called  MHC at Sea 2007: Mount Holyoke students take to the high seas during January term. It’s a group blog that captures the adventures of a crew of Mount Holyoke College students during a sail training experience onboard the Bark Picton Castle. From their blog:

Thirteen students and Professor Chris Pyle of the Politics Department will book passage on the 300 ton steel barque Picton Castle for a 14-day voyage from Grenada to Martinique, with stops at Cariacou and Bequia. Students will be integrated with the ship’s crew of 16 (on a three-watch system) as sail trainees, and will learn the arts of piloting, seamanship, and tall ship handling, much as sailors did in the late nineteenth century.

This will be a working voyage, not a Caribbean cruise. Trainees will be expected to participate fully in the ship’s operation, working aloft, walking on ropes 80 feet in the sky to set and furl sails, hauling lines on deck, manning the helm, navigating, standing watch, helping in the galley, and doing basic maintenance. Students will also write a running weblog, transmitted daily via satellite phone. Sleeping accommodations are in tiers of narrow bunks; there is no hot water for washing or bathing.

What I find particularly remarkable is that this group of students joined the Picton Castle shortly after Laura Gainey, a member of the vessel’s professional crew, was lost overboard during the transit from their homeport of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia to the Caribbean. If you only have time for a few posts, I encourage you to read Laura and Laura in my heart which deal with the loss of a crew member at sea. Continue reading Life’s lessons learned under sail