While our Society has not expressed as one of its fundamental aims the development of interests pertaining to sailing under canvas, it may well be presumed that such a fascinating field, so indelibly founded in the world's maritime history, knocks so naturally at the door of any Marine Historical Society.
It is with this thought in mind that we present a rather novel pursuit of one of our members, R. W. Barnett, who is hoping to have a three-masted schooner built for use on the Great Lakes expressly to be correlated to High School education. He feels that youths would have much to gain from exposure to shipboard life both socially and academically.
The vessel would be Bermudan-rigged with the sail area broken up for ease of handling. She would be approximately 115 ft. overall with a beam of 30 ft. Accommodation would be provided for Captain, Mate, Teacher, Engineer, Cook and, in three-berth cabins, thirty-six students. The whole concept of the schooner's design would have in mind maximum student participation allowing for a large chartroom, lecture saloon and library. She would be well endowed with electronic equipment not only as a navigational measure but also as an educational facility.
Each cruise, from May to September, is planned to be of 12 days duration sailing between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay. Most of the sailing progress would take place during the day with safe anchorages strategically planned at interesting places en route. Small boats, probably lifeboats meeting Department of Transport regulations, would be available for the use of students wishing to learn the arts of small boat handling whenever the schooner is at anchor.
Under way, the student body, divided into two watches, would alternate between deck and lecture saloon. For example, following the schedule of one watch, the eighteen youths on deck for four morning hours ( 9 - 1 ) would be split evenly into three groups, six junior officers for bridge and navigational experience, six deck hands for practical work, and six quartermasters for look out, helm and galley duties. This period would essentially be under the jurisdiction of the master and mate. They would then have an hour's lunch break followed by three hours pursuing academic correlations with the teacher in the lecture-saloon and library. The other watch, of course, would be in the saloon and on their lunch break for the first four hours and on deck for the last. Watches would switch about each day for a more rounded deck experience.
Some of the subjects dealt with would include general ship knowledge and seamanship, chartwork and pilotage, navigation, astronomy, meteorology, magnetism and electricity, mathematics, England, history, geography, geology, oceanography and ecology.
There are, of course, many sail-training and pre-sea navigation schools in the world today making use of sailing vessels to further their cause. But this proposal is basically different in form wishing only to take the child out of school for a short spell and place him in a situation which can allow him to relate practically those subjects already presented to him in conceptual form at school.
Strides have been made toward the realization of this dream. A Toronto marine architect is most anxious to commence preparatory working drawings. School Boards, both Public and Private have fully endorsed the educational value of the enterprise to the extent that they are anxious to make its facilities available to students under their jurisdiction. Tentative quotations on the building project have been received from Denmark, Finland, Holland, Hong Kong, England and our own East Coast yards, but the eternal problem of financial sponsorship is yet in its infancy.
Who knows, but that one day, not too far distant we hope, we will be able to add to our own increasing membership the name of a schooner and a Junior affiliation to the Toronto Marine Historical Society.
Reproduced for the Web with the permission of the Toronto Marine Historical Society.