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Libby’s Last Blog

Posted by Tall Ships America on August 29, 2010

By Libby Drew

It’s all over now. 

The Great Lakes United TALL SHIPS CHALLENEGE® 2010 Race to Save the Lakes is drawing it’s last breath and many of the shipmates I grew to love over the past two months are leaving via plane, train and automobile. Although I myself am moving onto the next port with US Brig Niagara before school starts, many ships are turning over crew almost entirely, making this a very bittersweet day. 

I can remember when I first heard about the TALL SHIPS CHALLENGE® and having a tall ships fleet traveling in company for a summer back when I was a teenager sailing on the STV St. Lawrence II. I knew it even then that this is what I wanted to do even if I had to wait until I was much older (luckily I didn’t!). To have been able to sail, race and hang out all summer on tall ships, especially with this fleet, has been beyond amazing. Tall ship sailors are definitely a different breed, and living in close quarters with so many of them these past two months have definitely given me stories to last a lifetime. 

What I find amazing about tall ships sailing is how much of a social, emotional and developmental catalyst it can be, not only for the crew members but more so for the trainees that come aboard for a short time. I think for the crew members of these ships, it can be hard to recognize just how much of a difference they make to people every day. I understand from personal experience how long and repetitive a day of deck tours can be, especially considering some of these ships have over 5000 people cross their deck in one day. But what I think a lot of these crew members don’t realize is how much being on these ships, talking to crew members and taking pictures can mean to people. This also goes for the trainees. In one summer, a crew member could’ve taught over 100 people how to sail, tie knots, climb aloft, or just feel more comfortable and confident in their skills. Again, I don’t believe that many of the sailors in the fleet recognize how much of a difference they’ve made because it can get so hectic sometimes with races, festivals and parties happening around them all the time. That’s why I’d like to take the time to praise the sailors in the fleet for their hard work, support and endurance this summer. I’ve seen the difference they’ve made firsthand and I’ve also been on the receiving end of their patience, lessons, and friendship. It’s definitely what sail training is all about and it sometimes can be easy to forget why we are at these festivals. We want sail training to stay alive and stay strong for generations to come because we believe it builds character, self-reliance and interpersonal skills among other valuable life skills.

 Because you are reading this blog I assume you have an interest in sailing tall ships. If you have never sailed before and are not sure whether or not it’s right for you yet, I would encourage you to do it as soon as possible. I have been so lucky this summer to have been able to sail aboard so many ships and with so many amazing people and I can’t imagine anyone wanting to miss an opportunity like this one. The ships are beautiful and sturdy, the crews are eager to teach you what they know,  the Lakes are waiting to take you on an insane adventure. So even though it’s all over now, I know I’ll see some of these ships and shipmates again in the future, maybe not all in one place. But the sailing community is surprisingly small and simultaneously infinite and I’m excited to see where I’ll go from here.

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One Response to “Libby’s Last Blog”

  1. Margaret Willard said

    Thank you Libby and others for all the blogs, I have enjoyed them so much! I could not be there so reading about the ships and your adventures at the Great Lakes was wonderful! Especially enjoyed the pictures!

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