A life chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence

The Queens County Advance - - FEATURE - By Nick Moase

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.

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