Learning sailing’s ropes, one knot at a time

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Brian Gauvin
Bert Rogers, executive director of Tall Ships America, talks about the organization’s cadet training program while aboard the barque Picton Castle in April 2018.

While the tall ships were in New Orleans, a special sail education opportunity was realized by nine cadets from the New Orleans Military/Maritime Academy (NOMMA). The idea originated during a casual discussion at the International WorkBoat Show a couple of years ago.

Rick Schwab, senior director at the Delgado Community College Maritime and Industrial Training Center, suggested that students involved in basic STCW training at the academy should sail on a tall ship. He said it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Schwab presented the idea to NOMMA and subsequently to Bert Rogers, executive director of Tall Ships America. The nonprofit group focuses on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of North America’s maritime heritage.

“We all worked together to have them sail on Picton Castle,” Schwab said. “The seed for the concept was planted (years ago) at WorkBoat, but was planned and executed in a few months by all the parties involved.”

Aristide Muganda, a NOMMA maritime teacher, was the instructor on the voyage from Galveston to Pensacola to New Orleans. He said the rigor of 17 days at sea was “a character-building experience through which the cadets matured. In the process, they developed seamanship by learning sail handling as well as being at the helm, and tying essential knots to secure parts of the ship in crucial moments.”

Categories: Publication > Professional Mariner