Preserving the Skills

There was a lot of talk back in the early 1900s about losing the skillset needed to sail large wooden vessels. As sailing ships were replaced by steam, there were fewer and fewer people that knew what was needed to set sail aboard a classic frigate. Over the next century, maritime museums, community foundations, charter organizations, and private individuals have invested in keeping enough of these boats sailing that we have a rich variety of them on the water today.

Image (c) Historic Vessel Vega

Even more important than the boats, we have a whole new generation of sailors. Tall Ships America, among other such groups, has gone to great effort to provide training opportunities and crew lists. So now, when many groups around the world are looking at the viability of sail as a sustainable method of ocean transport, there are sailors available. People that know things like (as posted in a Facebook group I am a member of in response to the image to the right): “Looks like they are braced squared… so a dead down wind run… a little water on deck not so bad for rolling. Short handed, they may have run down wind to make the apparent wind less for taking in the course. Then once on deck brace around. The foretopsail would want to be kept as long as possible because it keeps the side to side roll down and makes for a more comfortable ride.”

I think we are in good shape for the future, so that when the next generation of young people catches the tall ships bug, they will have a chance to make a living on the water in wooden boats. That is a good thing.

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