A Reminder Of Our Sailing Ethos

Working aboard a Thames barge under sail

For a sail training vessel to have value beyond the virtues of voyaging for its own sake, she must carry commercially viable cargo, and she must do so without mechanical assistance.

To be a vital part of a venture which delivers the real goods to their destination using only wind and tide is not only to discover the obvious satisfactions of muscle-cracking labour, it is to appreciate one’s place in the natural world. Using only vernacular artefacts we cannot hope to defeat the elements. The best we can do is to work with them and, so far as is humanly possible, turn them to our ends.

Anyone working under sail alone soon learns to accept those things which cannot be changed. They also develop the fortitude to alter what can and must be altered. Understanding the difference between the two is a basic key to wisdom which few adults today ever achieve. When a young person steps ashore after discharging a cargo they have personally worked across days and nights of deep water and shoal, they will look up at the towering spars and begin to know their true worth as individuals.

It’s as simple as that. The cost in money terms is minimal by today’s standards. The pay-off in turning lives around will be incalculable and is the basis of our thinking for Blue Mermaid.

Tom Cunliffe. Sailor, writer, broadcaster and Sea-Change Appeal Patron

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