Tall Ship Pathfinder Ready for Summer Tour 07/12
The 72 foot Brigantine "Pathfinder" will be making her annual tour of the Great Lakes this summer with stops at Amherstburg, Windsor, Sarnia, Goderich, Tobermory, Owen Sound, Parry Sound, Killarney, Little Current, and various other ports around the Lake Huron, Georgian Bay and the North Channel this summer.
The "Pathfinder" will spend part of the summer in company with the Tall Ships fleet that has come up into the Great Lakes this summer from overseas. When the main branch of the fleet heads North up Lake Huron, and into Lake Michigan bound for Chicago’s 200th Anniversary celebrations, the Pathfinder will be returning to her old stomping grounds in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.
"We will be able to add two additional cruises in the area by staying close to home instead of going all the way down Lake Michigan to Chicago. By doing this we can still sail the most beautiful waters in the Great Lakes area, says Seann O’Donoughue, one of Toronto Brigantine’s board of directors, "At the present time we still have many spaces available for local youth from the Georgian Bay, Huronia & Bluewater, and Michigan regions. Being a Mariner, I would personally like to see more of our local kids get the chance to sail a tall ship on the Great Lakes- and this is it! - I did it when I was in high school and I loved it! - I loved it so much that I continued it for 4 summers, and I would recommend it to anybody. I even chose to make a career out of it, and went to Georgian College in Owen Sound. I think more local kids from the Great Lakes Region would benefit from a tall ship experience like this."
The Pathfinder will be carrying out crew changes in Goderich, and using the port as their start and terminus point for four different Lake Huron cruises. The ship will be in Goderich on the following dates: July 24,25,26,27 August 1,2,3 August 12-19 August 28,29 & 30th. Open ship public viewing tours will be announced at a later date this summer.
On the ship’s way back to home at Summer’s end, she will rejoin the Tall Ship flotilla for the 2003 Sarnia Reunion, prior to sailing down the St. Clair & Detroit Rivers, across Lake Erie, and Down the Welland Ship Canal, Across Lake Ontario back to her home port of Toronto. Her sister ship, the "T.S. Playfair", Is in Kingston this summer on charter to the Canadian Sea Cadet Corps, operating out of HMCS Ontario.
The Brigantines Pathfinder and Playfair are a familiar sight all over the lakes, and offer youth aged 14 to 18, the opportunity of a lifetime to sail on board a square rigged tall ship as real active crewmembers. Founded in 1962, Toronto Brigantine has put thousands of teenagers aboard the two vessels which ply the Great Lakes in the summer, and tie up for winter at their home port in Toronto. The ship takes on Eighteen new trainees who join our staff of ten, in the true tradition of the sea and are divided into three "watches" of six people: red, white or blue. Each member of the watch will be supervised and instructed by a Petty Officer and a Watch Officer who also provides leadership during the voyage. The system is based on the traditional Naval routine of running a ship on a 24 hour basis, and each watch gets the opportunity to stand the night watch, taking turns at the ships wheel, assisting in Navigation, standing lookout, helping out in the galley, assisting the Bosun with the anchors or ships maintenance, and docking the ship. Climbing aloft in the rigging for the first time is a challenging experience, but once done, they become old hands at it. It is amazing to watch them rise to the challenge! This system is a good way to allow the crew to interact and build good teamwork relationships. There is also time to read a book, and "catch a few rays" too. Every crew member will get an opportunity to participate at their own level.
"On an average 12 day voyage, we will usually spend 2 days at sea at a time and then go into a nice anchorage or a port to enjoy some leisure time ashore. As with any ship, our current position, and the weather conditions will determine the day’s curriculum. We love to get local Manitoulin Island ice cream, and the freshest fish & chips, where we go. Some of our favourite cruising areas are among the beautiful tree covered rocky islands on the exposed Canadian Shield in the North Channel. You can do some pretty amazing star gazing up there at night, and see the Northern Lights on a regular basis. The ship also traverses the fjord of Baie Fine, all the way up to "the pool", where we take a hiking excursion up the quartzite mountains within Killarney National Park to swim in Lake Topaz," says Captain Timothy Pyron, the Pathfinder’s Skipper who has been with the organization for five years having sailed through all five Great Lakes [Including the mighty Lake Superior] and the St. Lawrence Seaway. "The ships are Coast Guard inspected annually, and we are required to meet the most stringent safety and training standards."
Everyone joins in sail handling, "knot tying contests", "tacking races"and other tests of skills. At the end of the trip, there is usually a traditional ship’s concert made up of skits and songs performed by the watches and officers.
"My favourite place to stop is the Bustard Islands in Georgian Bay, where we can go for a hike, pick wild blueberries, swim & have a nice campfire", says Heather St. Louis, a former Watch and Training officer, "sailing on these ships is a wonderful way to spend your summer, and to see sights and sounds that most people only get to dream about.
There are about 50 berths still available this summer for interested youth on various trips in the area, on both six and ten day courses. Costs run approximately $110 per day. Upon request, bursaries are available for young persons not able to finance the program themselves. Toronto Brigantine is a non-profit organization, supported by charitable donations. No previous sailing experience is necessary; the applicant must be physically fit, and able to swim.
"Our motto is: "Building Character through Adventure", says Seann. O’Donoughue, "and for a teen to actually take the wheel of a 52 ton ship, to climb the rigging and help in furling the sails, and to feel the majestic wind and seas is a completely new experience. All the traditional terminology is used in operation of the ship, flag etiquette, ringing of the ship’s bell - port & starboard, and speed measured in knots, it adds to the true feeling and sense of adventure. It’s as real as it gets, and I am really proud to be a part of such a fine Canadian tradition! "
For more information or bookings, please call Danielle Sloane, at (416)-596-7117, or visit the web site at www.tallshipadventures.on.ca. There are approximately 50 spaces left on the Pathfinder for the summer and we are also offering a 6 day Adult cruise departing from Port Dover through the Welland Canal and onto Toronto from August 30th -Sept 4th , which has about 14 spaces available.
Reported by: Seann O'Donoughue