Tag Archives: Youth Sail Training

Pathfinder in Gananoque area, 1970s

Here is a picture of Pathfinder taken by Jim King in the 1970s when she was in Gananoque area.  I came across the photo reading an article  “More Nostalgic  Vessels”, by Tom King, Thousand Islands Life.com, Mar 13, 2011.

[Photo: Pathfinder in Gananoque are in 1970s. Source J W King Photography Collection, used by permission of Tom King.]

And both Pathfinder and Playfair are coming back to Thousand Islands again this summer. [thanks to Thousand Islands Life.com for promoting the program for us]

SAILORS Wanted: Come sail with us in Thousand Islands in Course 1 and 2 of the 2012 Summer Program.  This is perfect for teenagers age 13 to 18 that are looking for an extraordinary summer adventure – making new friends, meeting exciting challenges, learning new skills … a traditional sailing experience.

There will be many unscheduled stops throughout the Thousand Islands area depending on the wind and weather and where we can arrange dockage, water and dump out that can accommodate our ships that are 70 feet long with an 8 foot draft.

The Details of each course in the 2012 Summer Program are provided at the Toronto Brigantine website. http://www.torontobrigantine.org/summer-program/schedule-and-fees/

Sign up today for your tall ship adventure through the Thousand Islands or the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay.

Toronto Brigantine Inc 413-215 Spadina Ave, Toronto ON M5T 2C7

tel: 416-596-7117 e-mail : office@torontobrigantine.org website: www.torontobrigantine.org

Registered Canadian Charity 11926 5924 RR0001

Reenactment of Battle of Sackets Harbour, 1975

Jurgen Braunohler remembers sailing Playfair in reenactment of Battle of Sackets Harbor, Summer 1975:

The following week I found myself aboard Playfair. While some cruises went eastwards through the Thousand Islands of the St. Lawrence River, all of mine went well out into Lake Ontario. I’m only guessing that as a petty officer in the making, the more challenging stuff was deliberately
being thrown my way.

At any rate, a boisterous, overnight passage took us around Prince Edward County to Cobourg, where we had shore leave. We also lowered the topsail yard to work on it, an involved operation.  [Drawing of Lowering the topsail yard of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]

Then we sailed east in nice weather, through the Murray Canal into the Bay of Quinte and on to Kingston.  [Drawing of View of Playfair, by Jurgen Braunohler]

We dropped anchor in Presqu’ile Bay for the night before motoring through the canal, where we had a game of rigging races: to see who could climb to the fore masthead and slide down again the fastest.

The nice weather followed us through the Bay of Quinte and once more I was busy with the leadline and other things. I generally preoccupied myself with every job I could find. Petty Officer Bruce Hunter called me his leading seaman and the role pretty much stuck to the end. On passing Belleville, we had a little drama in waiting for the bridge to swing open, as we sped before a fairly good breeze. The horn was blown and all hands were ordered to stations. But that bridge opened in the nick of time, with traffic backed up in both directions. Sightseers lined the rails, snapping pictures as we stormed through, our lower yard arms just clearing the bridge girders.

We sailed all night to Kingston and on our departure from there, headed through fleets of dinghies preparing for the sailing Olympics the following year. Boisterous conditions greeted our beat out into Lake Ontario, to Main Duck Island, were we anchored for the night.

Departure came very early the next morning, along with an unusually thorough clean-up on deck, as we headed for Sackets Harbor, New York. Pathfinder could be seen scudding along to weather, off our starboard quarter, with Galloo Island in the distance. Both ships sailed into Sackets Harbor, where we re-enacted the War of 1812 Battle of Sackets Harbor, the first major naval engagement of that conflict. We had very little wind for this and when it died altogether, had to motor along slowly and just look like we were sailing. Then Playfair’s engine quit, so we wound up being towed by Pathfinder.

Aside from that, the effects of the re-enactment were startlingly realistic. First of all, the booming cannon fire from shore, from several guns. Even though none of it was real, it felt just slightly disconcerting having cannon aimed at one’s ship. Groups of locals armed with muskets crowded our decks and returned fire. The noise notwithstanding, the concussions or shockwaves that assaulted our ears caused enough pain that we shoved wads of cotton in our ears. Then the drifting battle smoke nearly obscured the large spectator fleet that surrounded us. But I could still just make out fire control parties on shore stamping small grass fires.

Somewhere, someone must have been shooting off firecrackers, for the air was full of shrieks and whistles. It certainly scared the fish, for a large one jumped right out of the water and landed with a colossal splash almost right next to me, as if it was a cannon ball! Up to this point we had not been doing very much, just handling sails as needed. That was about to change.

In 1812, the British squadron from Kingston (which we represented) was repulsed by American defences. Those included a battery of cannons on shore, as well as the brig Oneida, using it’s own broadside battery from a moored position. When the British, led by HMS Royal George, suffered damage, they retreated. Therefore, it was our job to look like we had lost. To that end a small fire was
lit in a metal bucket on Pathfinder’s deck, to send up some smoke to show we were beaten. But that fire got a little out of control and melted the bucket. Soon, officers prancing around with fake swords were now dashing about with fire extinguishers. Our own officers soon yelled at us and now we chanted “Heave! Heave!” in unison as we hauled on the towline to come alongside and render assistance.
But before we got there, someone on Pathfinder grabbed an oar from a dory and used it to fling the bucket overboard.

After a long shore leave, during which the entire town turned out to celebrate and we were the guests of honour, we got underway just before midnight. Although we could have sailed, time was of the essence to get back to Waupoos on time, so we motored. With our engine still broken, that meant that Pathfinder towed us all the way home. It was a long night watch from 12 to 4, with little to do, but not free of incident. While crossing the shipping lanes in foggy conditions, I had to give a yell when a large freighter crossed our path at high speed, requiring evasive action. Aside from my nerves, all was good. I was also not tired anymore.

[Years later, Jurgen writes about  the “Battle of Sackets Harbor” for the Flotilla Newsletter. The article is provided here:

https://tallshipsintoronto.wordpress.com/2012/02/26/jurgen-braunohler-article-about-reenactment-of-sackets-harbor/ ]

Steve Dennis did exchange on TS Royalist, 1992

Steve Dennis is a TBI Alumnus and was both a Seamanship Award Winner in 1991 and Deep Sea Award Winner in  1992. As part of the Deep Sea Award, he went on an international exchange and had the opportunity to sail aboard the TS Royalist from Gosport (Portsmouth) through the English Channel around Land’s End and into Cardiff.

[In writing this update, I just noticed that in 2012, Steve will be a 20 year alumnus of TBI – that is the year of TBI’s 50th anniversary.]   I asked Steve for a perspective of his Deep Sea Award exchange experience almost 20 years later (I hope that he doesn’t mind me “rounding up”).

He shared the following when asked how his exchange experience impacted his life and in fact, he was writing from an overseas assignment in the Middle East:

This exchange was my first overseas travel and introduction to different cultures.  I believe the experience was influential in opening my eyes to the world.  After finishing with TBI and my university degree, I started working overseas.  I continue to be humbled and in awe of the diversity of people across the world, and the similarities we share.  The Deep Sea award was a wonderful experience for me.

Steve provides the following favourite memory from tall ship sailing exchange experience:

I arrived in Portsmouth with some time to spare.  From the bus station, I walked down the hill reciting the poem in my head, “take me down to the sea.”  I wasn’t just breathing in salt air, I was breathing in the culture and traditions that walked down the same streets, duffle bag over shoulder, for hundreds of years before.  In the distance, I saw three masts, crossed with many yards, painted in the Royal Navy’s yellow and black.  I had to see it, I read so much about it, this vessel graced every book on British naval history, and there she was.  The HMS Victory was Lord Nelson’s flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar, and there her restored glory rested.  I toured the ship, and several others in the harbour, before grabbing a ferry across the sound to Gosport, where the T.S. Royalist awaited.  Walking through a naval dockyard, I could feel the sense of history staying alive.  Approaching the Royalist, I noticed she was alongside a modern naval submarine.  Walking across the deck of modern ship of war completed my visit to naval history past and in the making.  I came aboard and started my journey.

[One of the things that I have enjoy much how much about learning about TBI and tall ships is getting caught up on all the history and geography that I didn’t know! Every conversation that I have causes me to learn something new … and today I refreshed myself about The HMS Victory, Lord Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar.  My old highschool history teacher, Mr Kroh, would be proud.]

Steve Dennis is one of the more than 40 Deep Sea Award winners that have gone on an international exchange with another tall ship sail training program.

Learning the Ropes with Toronto Brigantine

Here is a flier for Toronto Brigantine’s Summer Program. Come Learn the Ropes of tall ship sailing this summer.  TBI Summer Sail Flier

The term “learning the ropes” originated from shipping. As a young lad came aboard he became a deck hand and one of the first things he’d do is climb the ships ropes to handle the sails.  “Learn the ropes” means learning the basic runnings of an operation or job.

Get a look at these ropes from the Pathfinder. Alan Gillis took this picture August 2008.

Try this for “learning the ropes”


And in addition to “learning the ropes”, trainees also get “all tied up in knots”


You, too, can learn the ropes on a tall ship this summer. For more information about our programming, see our website.

To sign up for the Summer Program:

Happy sailing.

Come Visit us at the Redpath Toronto Waterfront Festival – Canada Day Weekend

The first stop of the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Festival will be in Toronto. The Tall Ships Challenge theme is “the Race to Save the Lakes” and promoting a message of conservation and protection of the worlds largest source of fresh surface water.

The Playfair and Pathfinder are two of fourteen tall ships participating in the Redpath Toronto Waterfront Festival (Jun 30 to Jul 4). We will be the smallest vessels in the show, but we look just as pretty as the rest of them!

During the Toronto Waterfront festival,  both vessels will be there, and one or both of them are available for group or adult sails.  Book early to get this opportunity for a behind the scenes  – up close look at the Tall Ships visiting Toronto this summer on Canada Day weekend. Check out the Group Sail  flier

Trainees participating in Toronto Brigantine’ s Course #2 summer sail will participate in Leg 1 of the Great Lake Challenge down to Bay City leaving from Toronto.



A Channel in Ottawa has a contest to win a trip for four to the Toronto Waterfront Festival.

For those of you in Ottawa, check it out. http://www.atv.ca/ottawa/promo/tallships/family.html 

Our very own captain Julian Schroer was interviewed on the May 31st morning show on A Channel to talk about the Toronto Brigantine’s youth sail training program and the Toronto Waterfront Festival. Click here to see his interview of Youtube.


To sign up for any of the Toronto Brigantine Summer Sail Program or to make arrangements for a group charter event at any of these port events, sign up today before all the spots are gone:

We look forward to seeing you around the Great Lakes – and in Toronto, Bay City and/or Chicago to join in the festivities for the Great Lakes United Tall Ships Challenge.

Here is the list of Tall Ships that you will see in Toronto.

Vessel Type Home Date built Sparred Length A photo
Roald Amundsen Brig Eckernforde, Germany 1953 165 feet
Europa Bark Amsterdam, The Netherlands 1911 185 feet
Flagship Niagara Brig Erie, PAUSA 1911 198 feet
Roseway Schooner St. Croix, US Virgin Islands 1925 137 feet
STV Pathfinder Brigantine Toronto, ON 1962 72 feet
TS Playfair Brigantine Toronto, ON 1974 72 feet
Amistad Topsail Schooner New Haven, CT USA   129 feet
Denis Sullivan 3-masted Schooner Milwaukee, WI USA 2000 137 feet
Pride of Baltimore Square Topsail Schooner Baltimore, MD USA 1988 170 feet
HMS Bounty Full rigged Ship Long Island NY USA 1962 180 feet
STV Unicorn(Sisters under Sail) Topsail Schooner Clinton, NJ USA 1947 188 feet
Empire Sandy Schooner Toronto ON   200 feet
Challenge Schooner Toronto ON   96 feet
Kajama Schooner Toronto ON 1930 165 feet