Captain Moreland and I were at the Tall Ships America annual conference in Boston last week. Picton Castle is a member of Tall Ships America, whose mission is “to encourage character building through sail training, promote sail training to the North American public, and support education under sail.”
We try to make sure that Picton Castle is represented every year, especially in the years leading up to a tall ships event summer. Picton Castle will be taking part in a number of tall ship festivals and events in the summer of 2017, so it was important for us to be there for the general learning that takes place at the conference as well as some specific sessions that relate to planning and logistics of these upcoming events.
And, my goodness, are we excited about the upcoming voyage this summer!
There is still work to be done, but we were able to meet with port organizers from many of the ports we’ll be visiting as part of the Rendezvous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta. Meeting them in person and talking with them about the events they have planned makes us think our crew are going to have a fantastic time this summer. From a reggae concert in Bermuda to the hospitality of Charleston, the crew parade in Boston to fireworks in Quebec City, we’re in for a treat!
The packed conference schedule kept us on our toes. Sessions started at 0745 or 0800 and ran until about 1800 most days, followed by receptions or dinners most evenings. Wednesday’s safety forum and education forum, which are aimed specifically at ship operators, covered topics ranging from ship stability to managing crew fatigue to individual donor fundraising. On Thursday and Friday, ship operators were joined by host ports, suppliers and others interested in the business and sailing of tall ships. Session topics included tips on sailing to Cuba, financial management and shared resources, how to produce a series of promotional videos (go check out SeaMester’s webpage for some videos that made me want to go sailing!), human resources, weather for passage planning, and so much more.
The Captain often tells me that while the sessions are good, meeting and talking with people is what it’s really all about. We both had a chance to catch up with old friends and colleagues, find out what they’re doing now and share some old memories. We also both met lots of new people and made new connections.
As I kept seeing shipmate after shipmate, I realized that this particular conference had a high concentration of current or former Picton Castle crew present. Although I may have forgotten someone, I counted at least 21 Picton Castle sailors either attending the conference or visiting during the conference. While I didn’t quite manage to coordinate a photo with all of us, it was great to see so many people who have spent time aboard with us still working or somehow engaged in the industry.
Captain Moreland was asked to speak twice during the conference. Once was a lunchtime presentation about Picton Castle’s upcoming seventh world circumnavigation voyage, which I recorded and hope to get uploaded soon to share with you. As he spoke, a slideshow of tropical images from previous voyages played behind him, in sharp contrast with the snowstorm that kept us all inside the hotel and conference centre that day. His second talk was at the very end of the conference, wrapping up the official business of the conference before the gala dinner. In that short talk, he wisely pointed out that every ship and every program does something better than you, so you should learn what that is, adapt it and adopt it on board. One of the points of a conference like this is to talk with our colleagues to find out how they do things, share how we do things, and learn to do things better. As I’ve heard Tall Ships America Executive Director Bert Rogers say a number of times, “the rising tide floats all ships.”
The conference ended with a gala dinner and dance, commonly referred to as the “prom.” Those of you who have seen photos from crew parties or receptions know that sailors clean up well, and those at this conference were no different. Everyone put on their finest outfits for a classy sit-down dinner (did I mention that the food all week at the Seaport Hotel in Boston was wonderful?), followed by dancing to music by a live band until well into the night.