Tillotsons send Townships teen on adventure
Learning how to climb the mast was just one of the lessons learnt by Jordan Saint-Laurent Jugan when he sailed the Gulf of Maine, in August, on the Roseway.
If you’re curious how a young, Francophone teenage boy from St. Hermenegilde ended up on an historic, American schooner sailing the Gulf of Maine with seventeen other teenagers, all English-speaking, last August, there is one answer:
through the generosity of the Tillotson Family.
Although it is widely known that community organizations in this region have been receiving funding from both the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund and the Tillotson Coaticook Regional Fund for several years now, the late Neil Tillotson’s son, Thomas Tillotson, recently began an annual program with the Tillotson North Country Foundation to send three young people, one from the Coaticook area and two from the region just south of the border, on a maritime adventure, called the Summer Ambassador Program, with the World Ocean School.
“When Neil Tillotson’s grandson went on a two week sailing adventure for youth with the World Ocean School, he benefitted from the experience so much that his father, Thomas, decided to start this project so other young people could try it,” said Helene Saint-Laurent, the mother of Jordan Saint Laurent Jugan, the Township teen who was accepted for this year’s excursion.
“It was quite complicated to apply. Before getting accepted, I had to meet with a teacher from my school for a reference letter and I had to see a doctor and get medical papers. Then I had to bring all
the papers to the Town Hall, last winter, where someone took care of it from there,” explained Jordan, quite articulately for a young teen. He continued: “Once I was accepted, Mrs. Rioux (the general director of East Hereford who was in contact with the Tillotson North Country
Foundation) called and asked if I’d still want to go even if all the other kids on the boat spoke only English. I said yes, but I was a little worried, at first. But the reality was, in the end, it wasn’t hard at all. I had just finished a summer school course in English because I hadn’t passed my course last year, so that helped!”
Improving his English-speaking skills was one reason Jordan applied for the spot on the schooner. “I also wanted to take the trip because both my father and my step-father have worked on boats, so that inspired me, too.”
After months of anticipation, the day finally came, in August, when it was time to bring Jordan down to Boston to board the boat. “We thought we had plenty of time to get Jordan to the boat, but then we got lost in Boston for four hours! We finally had to take a taxi to find the right place and we got there just in time,” said Jordan’s mother, able to laugh about it now.
On August 4th, Jordan sailed off with his group of new friends, aged between twelve and sixteen, and a qualified crew, for a two week tour of the Gulf of Maine. And they weren’t just sailing away on any old boat, but on the Roseway, an eighty-eight year-old, 137 foot schooner that has been designated a United States National Historic Landmark. “The Roseway was first built as a fishing vessel, but it was so fast that they used it during war times,” said Jordan.
Built to incredibly high standards in 1925, the vessel was so well-maintained that the coal for the stove was washed before storing on board. During the Second World War, when all navigational lights were turned off around
the Boston Harbor, only the
Roseway guided the ships through the minefields and anti-submarine netting that had been installed to protect the harbor. She was the last ‘pilot schooner’ in operation in the United States when she was retired in 1973, just before being transformed into a windjammer. The famous boat, which was completely restored about ten years ago, even appeared in a television movie version of
Once the teens were all on board, the main crew of the Roseway began their task of turning their young protégés into sailors. “Each day we had our tasks, like cleaning the deck, washing dishes, even taking down the mast. When climbing the mast, you are attached and have two cords to work with. And you always have a person at the bottom holding on to one cord, in case you fall,” described Jordan. “We also learnt to use a compass and to steer the boat. That was strange because the wheel is at the back of the boat and you can’t see where you’re
going!” Having to wake up at regular intervals during the night, to take turns making sure the boat was well-anchored, was perhaps one of the less appreciated lessons.
Besides learning to sail a schooner, the kids had to send a journal entry and photo to the World Ocean School headquarters daily, for updates to the organization’s website where parents could go for the latest news and photos. They also did volunteer work during shore visits, such as repairing nature trails, tending community gardens and working in a soup kitchen. “I was the ‘food runner’ there, bringing juice and coffee to everyone,” said Jordan.
When asked what was most unforgettable about his adventure, Jordan sounded like a real seaman when he said: “Riding on the prow!” “And I was the first one on board to spot a whale. It came close to the boat, it was a small one, well, small for a whale!”
It will be time again soon to apply to take part in the World Ocean School’s Summer Ambassador Program, however, although he admittedly had a wonderful time, Jordan won’t be filling out any papers. “I’d rather leave the opportunity to my younger brother or sister,” said the young mariner.
Jordan Saint-Laurent Jugan, of St. Hermenegilde, at the wheel of the historic schooner, the Roseway, which was named after a woman named Rose who often got her way!