My family has a cottage on Lake Ontario near Niagara Falls, NY. One of my favorite parts of summer's to watch and track the freighters and ships on the lake. When I was 12, I asked my mom if I could take sailing lessons. I had my boating license so I could take our boat out, but I wanted to learn more. My mom started looking for sailing programs, and found a site for Toronto Brigantine online. She showed it to me, and I told her right away that I wanted to sign up. I had to wait a year, but as soon as I saw the ship in Hamilton harbor, I knew I would love it.
The first year, I did one course, because I had never been away from home overnight. This wasn’t like a regular camp. We sailed as part of a big tall ship celebration that summer. All the ships sailed into Bath as part of RDV2017 and it was the best experience of my life. I couldn’t wait until the next summer. In 2018, I added more courses and spent 3 weeks aboard TS Playfair. My 3rd year with the program, I returned as a Petty Officer and spent 10 weeks sailing with Brigs from the Toronto Redpath Festival up to Georgian Bay and back again to the tall ship festival in Erie, PA. It was an amazing season.
Winter program gives us the opportunity to learn seamanship and navigation, and spend time with our crew off season. We make repairs and prepare the ship for the next season. Bluffer’s Park is a great home for Brigs and my family usually comes along to see me off or greet the ship when we return.
The experience with BRIGS gives me confidence and skills I never thought I could have at my age. I’ve made friends from Canada and the US and it’s always great to see everybody arriving for a new season with their bags and gear. Trainees and crew get a chance to disconnect from electronic life and experience the ship and the Great Lakes for a week, or a summer. I know Brigs will be a part of my life forever, and the friends I’ve made there are friends for life.
If you’re looking for a really unique and lifelong journey, BRIGS is an amazing organization. I’m proud to wear my crew uniform. Please join us for the summer of your life!