Rhode Island’s State Flagship looking for crew for the summer and beyond

Providence Maritime Heritage Foundation based in Providence, RI, operates the Continental Sloop Providence and is seeking crew for the 2007 sailing season, which will include tall ship events in Newport, RI and Halifax, Nova Scotia and beyond.

The Continental Sloop Providence is an historic 110′ tall ship engaged primarily in sail training and educational programming. Built in 1976, this reproduction of a Revolutionary War-era ship participates in educational programs for youth, sail training, re-enactments, corporate charters, and team-building programs throughout New England. The Providence carries a minimum crew of four professionals plus the captain and up to 49 passengers. Continue reading Rhode Island’s State Flagship looking for crew for the summer and beyond

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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NY Times – Study of Solo Sailor Stress and How Humans Cope

Today’s NY Times published an interesting article by Chris Museler entitled A Very Lonely Journey Across the Globe – Researchers Study Solo Sailing to Find How Humans Cope with Stress.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth (UK) department of sports and exercise science are studying the effects of stress on the five single handed sailors still in the Velux 5 Oceans Race. The conditions under which they sail and the duration of the experience creates a unique opportunity to study how human’s cope with stress. The organizer of the study, Michael Tipton, states:

“We’re trying to identify some of the common characteristics of people who consistently think clearly and perform under extreme conditions. We simulate helicopter escapes in pools but we don’t know how much longer they’d hold their breath if the real consequence would be drowning. With these sailors, that’s a real consequence every minute.”

In case there is any question about the constant danger and incredible stress under which these sailors work, watch the following 3 videos. The first is raw footage of the final hours and minutes that racer Alex Thomson has aboard the Hugo Boss vessel before abandoning it to join Mike Golding on the Ecovervessel. In it he explains what happended and the potential consequences if he doesn’t get off in time.

The second video is Thomson detailing how the rescue will be undertaken and it captures him jumping into the life raft leaving the camera rolling on his vessel.

The third video is a slicker production with music that uses some of the same footage but presents a wider perspective.

In an unfair twist of fate, hours after Thomson joins Golding on the Ecover boat, she dismasts and both sailor end up out of the race.

“Above all, these sailors are rational, calculating individuals,” Tipton said. “Their inventiveness and tough mindedness is what gets them through safely.”

Deep water sailing, solo or as a member of a crew, can be exhilarating, challenging and character building. What was written in the Times article and represented in the above 3 videos is the extreme. However, the power of the going to sea under sail in developing leaders is that there is real risk and self-challenge integral to the experience.

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Some Good News from North Carolina

Grand NellieYesterday I received an email from my friend Captain Ellen Troeltzsch of the Schooner Grand Nellie with the picture below . If you were around the tall ship fleet on the Atlantic Coast or Great Lakes in the early part of the decade you might recognize this vessel by the unique crew she kept. Her “Skipper” was actually a Dalmatian that epitomized the term “sea-dog.” Guaranteed he traveled more miles under sail than any other dog around. Unfortunately, Skipper passed away last year and will be sorely missed.

The good news out of Oriental, NC is that Captain’s Ellen and Jeff have welcomed aboard a new “sea-dog” named Hoosier. (Something to do with the fact that he was born in Indiana and there is a question about who his daddy might be.) 

Hoosier

Congratulations to the Troeltzschs and let’s get that beautiful schooner back to sea and changing more young lives (including Hoosier’s)!

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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