Former Corner Brook resident savoured opportunity to return aboard a tall ship
When a friend first suggested a teaching job aboard a tall ship to Justin Burnett, he thought it would be fun gig … for someone else.
After contemplating it some more, he decided to apply anyway.
That one decision led him to, not only landing the job, but also the opportunity to sail into Corner Brook aboard the ship he taught on.
Burnett lives in Torbay, but moved to Corner Brook with his family in 1987 and lived in the city for about 15 years. He was among the crew of the Fair Jeanne, one of five tall ships that docked in Corner Brook this past weekend.
The Canadian brigantine is an educational sailing vessel owned by a youth charity called Bytown Brigantine, which offers adventure camps for young people, aged 12-18.
Burnett became a crew member July 1 when he boarded the ship in Hamilton, Ont., and spent the next three weeks visiting various ports in Ontario and Quebec.
“This was not the kind of thing I ever imagined being able to do,” Burnett said after docking in Corner Brook Saturday. “The atmosphere aboard the ship is really good. The young people give it a lot of energy. The crew is really young too, so there is a real vitality to it.”
Although his work ended when the ship stopped in Quebec City, he was invited to stay aboard an extra week to be given a ride back to Corner Brook since the Fair Jeanne was heading that way anyway.
“They reclassified me from being a crew member to being a trainee, so I got to see both sides of it,” said Burnett.
He climbed high up one of the ship’s two masts to get a bird’s-eye view of their arrival into Corner Brook.
Whether crew or trainee, everyone has to learn about how the 110-foot ship sails and do their share of washing the deck and other daily chores needed for up to 30 people to live comfortably in such small confines.
“The great thing about this program is, because it’s geared around kids, they can come on with absolutely no knowledge,” he said. “Despite living next to the ocean all my life, I have very little sailing experience, but it wasn’t an obstacle at all.”
Burnett’s life as a sailor ended in Corner Brook. He plans to be a landlubber for the rest of the summer before returning to Torbay as a substitute teacher in a more traditional classroom setting.
Justin Burnett, a former Corner Brook resident, poses for a photo aboard the Fair Jeanne after he spent the last month on the educational tall ship as a course teacher and then as a trainee.