TBI Alumnus Jurgen Braunohler remembers Waupoos Island

[Submitted by Jurgen Braunohler, TBI alumnus 1973-1975].

During shore training we learned sailing in dinghies, in the p-boats (22 foot lifeboats, slide 43) and during overnight trips in cutter Trident.

Mine took us from Belleville to Napanee, to Glenora, on the Bay of Quinte (44 – that’s skipper John Hamer sitting on the coach roof as we tacked our way down Long Reach in the direction of Lake Ontario). We did it under full sail in stiff winds and ran aground once. What a job that was, hauling her off the sand bar into deep water again.

Life on Waupoos Island approximated life aboard ship, complete with nightwatches. I could write a book about the whole thing, but a few things stand out. One was the infamous Waupoos Island “fire drill”, featuring a “real” and very healthy bonfire in the middle of the night.

What made things even more interesting was the fact that we were all thrown out of bed. Then our attempts to put out the fire bordered on the comic. But most memorable was the fact that this was the night that I, ahem…”lost my pajamas”. Being soaking wet after putting out the flames, I dispensed with them for the first time in my life and the habit stuck. A fitting start to my brig career.

Naturally, the end of that week brought the “Evolution”, a venerated Toronto Brigantine tradition. Since “Building Character Through Adventure” was (and still is) our motto, this was a test to see how much we had all learned.

Mine involved a camp-out that quickly soured when a violent storm all but washed everything into the lake, and then my sleeping bag was accidentally torched. It was a very long night. Next day we tacked home in the three p-boats, in strong winds such as in slide 45 – actually taken earlier. That’s the Pegasus with, left to right, skipper Randy Dittums, Petty Officer Farquharson and the young lad – his name was Greg, I believe, who showed such good leadership and who sailed on St. Lawrence II the following week.

We had an experimental, “two ship” program for those two weeks, in preparation for bringing Playfair into the program later. I got reminded of that Evolution in the movie “Wild Hogs”, starring John Travolta: with the scene of the flaming marshmellow that was accidentally flicked into the tent.

The shore training had value besides the character building and teaching us how to sail. It was also a good conditioning system, to produce reliable crew (perhaps expecting a vacation cruise?) who could be counted on to fall out of bed for an emergency, when the call was for “all hands on deck”, like that infamous fire drill.

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