CSI Goes Sailing - How Toronto Brigantine Gave Me My "Sea" Legs!
I always knew being a member of the Centre for Social Innovation would enrich my life.. but I never knew that was going to include learning how to sail a tall ship!
Toronto Brigantine is a CSI Spadina tenant on the 4th floor that turns Urban Youth into Harrrdened Sailors, teaching leadership, discipline, skills and having a whole lot of fun doing it. They are a charitable organization and also provide a bursary program to get a greater diversity of youth out onto the water. They sail not one, but two old time, Pathfinder tall ships. So if you have ever wanted to yell Aaaar matey.. this might just be the organization for you... but back to the story of how Toronto Brigantine turned this landlubber into a pirate for a few hours.
I headed out one evening last week along with 40 other eager CSI members to Harbourfront to learn how to... well, I wasn't sure what we would learn how to do. Did I have an image of yelling "heave. ho!" while we all pulled on rope the size of our forearms (maybe not the size of my forearms, but somebody's impressive forearms) and saying other things like "Starboard on the horizon" and other such nonsensical jibberish?
And yes, I did google search how to spell "Starboard," but I did not google search a proper sailing phrase.
The evening did start off with us giving each other pirate-styled nicknames (hint: just add "arr" on the end of any name and people will be suitably amused, eg. Timn-arr, nickname credit: Jelayna). So, creativity may not have been at its peak right off the bat and the adventure may not have ended up being exactly what was vaguely pictured (Jonny Depp circa Pirates of the Carribean), but it was an adventure none-the-less! There were high school volunteers crewing the Tall Ship (if you have any pre-conceived notion that you will come across as impressive or as any sort of sailing expert in this situation, it is immediately destroyed when you realize the people climbing effortlessly up the mast and hauling in the line faster than you flip through TV channels are between the ages of 16 and 18 and are way cooler doing all that than you will ever be).
Everyone pitched in; we were hauling with the best of them! And once you are out on the water seeing the gorgeous view of Lake Ontario ahead of you on what has to have been the most perfect evening, let me tell you, it is something else!
The crew were capable and patient with their unknowledgeable cargo and you quickly forgot that they were all high school students (with the exception of the twenty-something captain) and not seasoned sailors smoking pipes filled with tobacco and telling you to be weary of the sea-creature who lures you in with a pretty song.
That would have been cool.
A few of us even took a huge "leap" and climbed the mast of the ship (some more confidently than others...). From up there the view was even more beautiful, the wind even more horrifying, and my stomach all the more uneasy. The 17-year-old crew member, Lily, assured me that you cannot actually fall to your death if you are clipped in to the cable in front of you. Likely story Lily. My plans of cutting and swinging down the rigging were put on hold though by the fact that I couldn't let go of Lily. She was nice.
I think by the end we all got our Sea Legs (Lake Legs?) -- I swear my shrieks from the top of the mast were shouts of encouragement to others...
Everyone did a great job out there on the open water and I think I speak for everyone when I say... Arrrrr we going again any time soon? Killed it.