Tall ship sails into Juneau

188-foot barkentine flies 10,000 square feet of sail

Posted: Sunday, August 03, 2003

The sailing ship Concordia, used as a floating classroom by a Canadian school, sailed into Gastineau Channel near downtown at about 8 p.m. Saturday.

The ship was scheduled to depart on Monday. Because it will not be able to tie up at a dock, there will be no public tours, a representative said.

The Concordia, built in 1992, is a barkentine. The 188-foot-long steel vessel has three masts 115 feet tall. Its 15 sails cover 10,000 square feet, but it also is powered by a 570 horsepower diesel engine. It is crewed by 12 professional sailors.

During the regular academic year the Concordia is used by its owner, West Island College International Class Afloat of Montreal, as a classroom for high school and junior college students preparing for college. During those months it carries 48 students, a third to a half of whom are Americans.

But in the summer the cruises are open to anyone. This summer the Concordia is carrying about 30 guests age 15 to the 60s who will learn some basic seamanship and may take noncredit courses in photojournalism and business management, said Director of Development Eric Prud'Homme from Montreal.

They pay $1,600 U.S. for the experience, which began July 19 in Victoria, British Columbia, and is scheduled to end there on Aug. 14. In the meantime, the ship visited two other B.C. ports and Ketchikan. After departing Juneau, it is scheduled to stop in Prince Rupert and Tofino, B.C.

During the regular academic year, students age 16 to 19 study English, history, math, science and physical education while also learning seamanship and visiting ports around the world such as in Hawaii, Samoa, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and Japan.

And the students learn the intangibles of how to get along with others onboard a ship and be independent from their families and old friends, Prud'Homme said. One aspect of the voyage can be seen on a map; the other voyage is in personal maturity, he said.

"It's pretty much skills for life that you develop in a year, that others may not have," Prud'Homme said.

The students also learn the customs of other countries, and understand the power of nature.

"Your way of thinking will be affected by that," he said of visiting other countries. "You will always think there's another way of thinking or looking that you might not have thought of.

"And of course being at sea you learn there are things you can control and things you can't be in control of."

Eric Fry can be reached at efry@juneauempire.com.

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