'I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, And all I ask is a Tall Ship and a star to steer her by',
Caribbean youngsters as trainees on the Eendracht
The beginning of a well know poem written by John Masefield in 1902 is now more and more turned into reality by the sail training vessels, the so called 'Tall Ships'. Several vessels are preparing their winter season with the intention to sail in the Caribbean by the end of this year and the beginning of 2014.
Sailing to and around in the Caribbean with a sail training vessel used to be a costly adventure, but many of those costs have now been reduced or even eliminated for the vessels that are members of the Caribbean Sail Training Association.
We know those majestic vessels mainly from the Tall Ship events that are often organized by or in cooperation with Sail Training International in harbors all over the world. The Mediterranean Tall Ships Regatta just started in Barcelona from where the vessels sail to Toulon and further on to La Spezia while on the other side of the world the Sydney to Auckland Tall Ships Regatta 2013 will be under way as from October 7th.
Christian Radich approaching Great Bay Harbor Philipsburg
Last winter season more than 30 Tall Ships visited the Caribbean Islands, most of them through the cooperation of the Caribbean Sail Training Association, a nonprofit foundation that aims to bring more of those vessels to the Islands. While they mainly sponsor Caribbean youngsters who don’t have the funds to participate as trainees, the CSTA also helps the ships with discounted or free harbor and docking arrangements, free ship agent services, reduced fees for custom and immigration and more.
Agreements have been made through the organization with many 'Tall Ship Friendly' Caribbean ports for charging smaller fees and where arrangements are not in place as yet the CSTA comes to the rescue with sponsoring. Several vessels like the Christian Radich, Picton Castle, Fryderyck Chopin, Alva, Eendracht, Eye of the Wind and many others paid only a fraction or were hosted free of costs at several Caribbean ports and harbors last year due to their CSTA membership.
Many of the Sail Training Vessels are owned by charities, foundations, schools or universities, governments or other institutions and appreciate assistance with no-cost or low-cost access to tug boats, pilot boats, docking, berthing or anchorage, and a reduction or elimination of harbor fees.
Maintaining and sailing a Tall Ship involves huge costs that are mostly only covered by the payments that the vessel receives for the sail experience that trainees receive during their voyages and donations. Some vessels also take a few paying guests on board during selected trips to generate some extra income and most of them also try to sell T-shirts, pins, caps and other souvenirs. A few regular (commercial) Tall Ships / charter vessels like the Eendracht and the Eye of the Wind are offering the CSTA limited places on board for Caribbean trainees in order to help educate youngsters and provide some important sail training and character building.
Sail training takes place all over the world and on board many different types of vessels. The Caribbean Sail Training Association ( CSTA ) has been established some years ago as a registered nonprofit foundation with the aim to help in providing education and sail training towards young people of all nationalities, cultures, religions and social backgrounds and specially towards people living in the Caribbean. The Caribbean Sail Training Association basically receives funds from businesses, private persons and other organizations that are used to provide youngsters with sponsorship to board ships and yachts as trainees so that they don't need to find the necessary money themselves. Many of the Caribbean youth or their parents and family are not wealthy enough to come up with necessary funds to provide their youngsters a sail training term on board a vessel, so that's where the CSTA comes to help.
The organization selects cooperating Tall ships, square riggers, large yachts and even race boats that are willing to take youngsters on a sail training trip. The CSTA arranges the funds (as each sail training vessel need some money from trainees in order to keep working and exist), they do all the paperwork, arrange and pay for transport to and from the ship (and airline tickets if necessary) pay for food and drinks and most of the expenses for the trainees.
The ultimate goal of the Caribbean Sail Training Association is to build, restore or acquire one day a Tall Ship to run sail training and educational programs at sea all year round for the Caribbean and other youth.
In the meantime more and more of those wonderful vessels seem to sail towards the blue Caribbean waters each year.
For more information visit Caribbean Sail Training Association