A life changing experience
A form filled out on a whim led to an experience not soon forgotten by one Queens Co. teenager.
Eli Whynot recently completed a one-month tour on the SV Concordia, a tall ship which takes on students aged 15-18 from all over the world.
Whynot didn’t really think he’d be accepted when he filled out the form at school. However not only was he accepted, he also received a full bursary to travel on the ship. Regular applicants have to pay $3,100.
Whynot had no experience either.
“Before this, I think I went sailing on a yacht maybe three times.”
The first day, the 40 students were split into four watches and assigned their tasks.
A typical day on the ship starts at 7:30 a. m. with breakfast, followed by the colours, which are morning announcements and the raising of the flag. Afterwards the crew goes to their cleaning stations. Depending on which watch was on duty, cleaning was followed by either leadership classes or working on deck doing sail maneuvers, ship maintenance and assisting with ship duties.
After lunch was seamanship classes and then back on deck to continue with the chores.
There was some free time in the evening, but most couldn’t stay awake to enjoy it.
“Most people just went to bed. You get pretty tired from all that work.”
All the students on the ship take turns on bridge watch as well. One is on the helm, while two others watch for hazards on the port and starboard sides.
Along with the 40 students, there were about 20 professional crewmembers on board to train and keep an eye on them. The students were ordered around, but he says they actually made it fun. Whynot says when they gave orders, they explained how their actions affected the ship, and why.
The Concordia left from Lunenburg, and sailed to Grand Manan, Boston, Halifax, Louisburg, and finally finished in Sydney. They joined up with the tall ship fleet at Boston, and continued with the group until the end of the tour.
It was hard for him to pin any one stand-out memorable moment; however sailing past cliffs and rock crevices by Grand Manan was awe inspiring.
Whynot says he doesn’t like heights at all, but did manage to climb the shrouds, rope ladders that go up the masts, up to the first crossbeam.
“I might have tried to climb to the top if I was on for the full year,” he laughs.
He adds however that even from there, the view was amazing.
Other memorable moments include swimming in the middle of the Atlantic, seeing tall ships lit up during the tall ship festivals in ports, and being part of all the festivities.
Whynot also saw whales and dolphins, and he could see how sailors of olden days came up with sea monsters.
“ The dolphins come up one after another, and it looks like a line. It looks like the fins of a sea monster.”
The experience, he thinks, will have a
sailing lasting impression.
“I’m a lot more confident now, and I learned some leadership.” He adds he has a lot more of a work initiative now as well.
He isn’t sure if his time on the Concordia will lead to any more sailing in the future, mostly because he got really seasick. Although it would pass after a day at sea, it wasn’t pleasant to go through.
However Whynot says the experience was well worth it, and he was glad to get the opportunity.
“I would definitely recommend it to anyone,” he says.
The SV Concordia is part of the West Island College Class Afloat, based out of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The goal, according to the group’s website is to offer young people from around the world the opportunity, in the microcosm of a sailing ship and the macrocosm of the planet, to challenge a rigorous programme of academic study, while engaging in sensitive and sustainable practices, developing leadership skills and raising cross-cultural awareness.
The Concordia was built specifically for Class Afloat.
Eli Whynot didn’t expect to be out in the Atlantic Ocean this summer, when he filled out an application form to be a crewmember on the tall ship SV Concordia. However the Queens Co. teen was not only accepted, he got a full bursary for his one-month tour.
The SV Concordia, lit up as the sun sets in the background.
The rigging of the SV Concordia. Whynot says normally he’s terrified of heights, but did manage to climb up to the first crossbeam. The view, he says, was incredible.