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Tall ships sail into Collingwood

By Hannah Vanderkooy, Enterprise-Bulletin

One of two tall ships, Playfair, sails into Collingwood on Wednesday afternoon.

One of two tall ships, Playfair, sails into Collingwood on Wednesday afternoon.

Two tall ships are spending the weekend in Collingwood to pick up a new crew for the final leg of their summer sailing through the Great Lakes.

Playfair and Pathfinder were designed by the same naval architect for the purpose of training youth.

The ships are part of a youth sailing program developed by Toronto Brigantine Inc. to give teenagers a tall ship experience.

Each boat is equipped with a captain, full-time crew, and a rotating training crew.

“All of them, except for myself, are between 13 and 18,” said Captain Sam Neale, who heads up the crew of the Playfair.

The full-time crew trains with the captains during the winter for the opportunity to volunteer in the full-time summer crew.

The trainees are mostly new to sailing, especially the challenges that come from sailing a tall ship.

“We don't require that new trainees have any sailing experience,” said Neale. “The first couple of days you'll end up with a few little snags... it takes probably five days to get used to it for the trainees.”

They stay on for one or two weeks before the next trainee crew starts.

Neale says even the full-time crew are challenged by the intricacies of the tall ship.

“The officers aboard who have been with me a year to three years are still learning because there is so much,” he said. “There are about 50 lines on board all doing a specific thing and you need to be able to tell them apart.”

Playfair has spent the last two weeks without a training crew and has followed their sister boat Pathfinder from Parry Sound to Manitoulin Island, and on to Collingwood.

“My summer crew is all volunteers and this is our favourite place to go,” said Neale. “I didn't want to rob them of that experience.”

Playfair and Pathfinder came in to Collingwood Wednesday afternoon. Both ships have another two weeks at sea before finishing in Kincardine.

“It's a huge experience,” said Neale. “This gives them a lot of responsibility, and that can be a little bit stressful, but I think for the most part they find it very empowering to have people who are willing to give them responsibility on board.”

The ships are docked alongside the harbour promenade for the weekend.

Members of the ships’ crews will be onsite Friday from 12pm to 6pm and on Saturday from 11am to 5pm to speak about the ships and the Toronto Brigantine’s Youth Sail Training Program.

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