George Stroumboulopoulos, the host of the popular CBC tv show The Hour, did a terrific interview with Natasha Carruthers, a sail trainee/student aboard the high school tall ship Concordia when it sank off the coast of Brazil on February 17, 2010. The video is a little jumpy but the audio does the job. Carruthers tells an amazing first hand account of what happened. She’s joined by Class Afloat instructor Ryan Cleland who had recently gotten off the ship and tells what transpired in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada, the ship’s homeport.
Today’s New Bedford Standard Times has a great article about Tom Borges, the artist who built this beautiful model. He started the project in 2003 and recreated, in painstaking detail, every element of this classic yawl. Better yet, he’s designed it so that it can actually be sailed.
According to the article and the Whaling Museum’s blog, which has more information about this project, it will only be on display in the museum’s Jacob’s Gallery for the next few weeks. It really is an extraordinary work of maritime art and if you can, you should make every effort to visit the museum to experience it.
I enjoy White Squall, but PLEASE note (especially parents of prospective sail trainees) many parts of it are pure fiction and over the top Hollywood. However, it does capture the spirit of sail training and the camaraderie of going to sea.
Ridley Scott’s White Squall is a much fictionalizsd version of the true story of the Albatross, a “step” sistership to the SSV Tabor Boy, a ship on which I sailed during my 4 years of high school. Captain Dan Parrott’s great book Tall Ships Down, devotes a chapter to the Albatross and is a must read for anyone interested in tall ships and safety at sea.
Here’s the official trailer for White Squall. Order it from Netflix before the winter’s over. It’s an entertaining movie for a snowy weekend evening.
It’s alway helpful to hear the story directly from those involved.
David Teegarden was part of the professional crew onboard the SV Concordia and served as her medical officer. In this video interview he tell his story of resetting his dislocated shoulder so that he could climb out of his cabin and escape the sinking vessel. Interestingly, he used the light from the screen of his laptop to navigate his way through the dark, overturned vessel.
Personal – I spent my high school years on a tall ship called Tabor Boy and launched The Tabor Boy Project, a website/living history project/social network, about that experience. So as a product of a long established, successful sail training program, I passionately believe in the power to transform young lives.
Professional – I was the executive director of the American Sail Training Association from 2001 to 2008. During that period I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of different sail training vessels and tall ships from around the world.
Professional/Personal – When speaking with the public or media at big tall ships events, I was invariably asked which was my favorite. As ASTA executive director, the only answer could be that “Like parents love their children, I love them all equally.” (politically correct) However, each sail training vessel and tall ship is unique in its own way and back on April 2, 2008, I wrote “I had the great fortune to spend my 4 years of high school sailing on a tall ship. If there was one educational sailing experience I could be jealous of, this (Class Afloat on Concordia) would be it.” By the way, I still feel that way today.
Leadership – Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with Class Afloat’s founder Terry Davies and believe that it would be difficult to find another educational leader more professional and caring about young people and more knowledgeable about ships. Similarly, my experience working with various captains and crew members of the Concordia was always very positive. Leadership defines the success of a program and Terry Davies charted a proper course for Class Afloat.
Reference – Today modern technology and media allow information to be distributed fast, far and wide. Unfortunately, accuracy isn’t always one of the characteristics but that might be a fair trade under many circumstances. Over time, inaccurate reports are generally weeded out and tossed aside. I’ve attempted to collect as many of the stories told to and by the media as possible. Going back later and trying to find this kind of information would be a gargantuan task. Doing it in real time is slightly easier. This is the web and many of these links will die but overall the post can serve as a pretty comprehensive reference for anyone interested in learning more about the casualty.
Lessons to Be Learned – The Concordia sinking is a sad story with a happy ending. And while it’s very early days in the investigation, it presents a great opportunity to try to figure out what happened without the usual high emotion that surrounds an incident involving casualties or fatalities. In some respects, this is similar to the Miracle on the Hudson. As Sergeant Joe Friday used to say, “All we want are the facts” and there are more than 64 individual stories that can be told today but which over time will consolidate into one overall narrative from which we will hopefully learn some valuable lessons for the future.
Up to this post, I’ve avoided editorializing, analyzing or making any judgement about what actually happened on the Concordia on February 17, 2010. I think that I’ll continue to leave the technical analysis to the professional investigators and others with more direct experience and knowledge about these things. I will continue to collect links about the sinking but anticipate (and hope) the pace of stories slows down so that I can get back to Sea-Fever’s regularly scheduled programming. I will also try to interpret/translate some of the technical findings so that non mariners can get a better understanding of the issues. I believe my Tabor Boy and ASTA experiences leave me well suited to the task. Finally, I will continue to champion sail training because I believe more than ever that there is no greater teaching platform than the tall ship and or campus than the sea.
West Island College International began with a leased vessel and had the Concordia built in 1992. A second ship was leased to handle an extra-large enrolment last year, but the Concordia was the only vessel the company operated this school year, Mr. McCarthy said.
He would not say how much the lost ship was insured for, but noted that the tall ship Prince William, which is for sale, was a roughly comparable vessel.
Chris Law, chief executive of the U.K.-based Tall Ships Youth Trust, said the trust hopes to get about £4.5-million for the nine-year-old Prince William. She noted that building a new version of such a ship would cost nearly four times as much.
The Prince William needs a new home and Class Afloat needs a ship if it plans to continue. Makes sense to me.