The Ocean State’s Official Sailing School Vessel, Tall Ship Oliver Hazard Perry is changing lives every time she sails from her homeport of Newport, Rhode Island. With education-at-sea at the core of her mission, she provides innovative and empowering programs to promote personal and professional growth.
This spring, the 200-foot Perry sailed her inaugural ocean passages to Cuba and Bermuda, and this summer she is offering teen voyages in New England and the Canadian Maritimes, sailing to Lunenburg (Nova Scotia), Boston and Portland (Maine). Perry also offers several Adult, Family, and Educator opportunities at sea.
“Cuba was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Ian Kreinsen, age 14, of Westwood, Mass., who goes to Thurston Middle School and decided he wanted to try something not-so-traditional for summer camp. “It was amazing, a great country to visit, and doing it by Tall Ship was really cool, because sailors hundreds of years ago went to Cuba to explore it, and a hundred years later we were doing that same thing.”
SSV Oliver Hazard Perry is not a replica, but a modern, steel-hulled vessel purpose-built for training and education to the highest modern safety standards (accommodating 49 people overnight, including 17 professional crew). The first sea-going full-rigged Tall Ship to be built in America in over a hundred years, she is USCG-approved and all who participate in her sailing programs become part of the crew. No one is a passenger. Instead, everyone lives aboard and works side-by-side with professional crew to learn square-rig seamanship, including bracing the yards, steering the ship and even going aloft if they wish to do so.
“For me, going aloft is such a natural feeling,” said Charlie Downey, age 16, of Easton, Mass., who attends Xaverian High School (in Westwood, Mass.) and also sailed to Cuba. “It gives me a sense of discovering things about myself that not everybody in the world will have the opportunity to discover in their lifetime.”
Rafael Lipp, age 14, from Brookfield, Conn. had this to add: “I’m homeschooled and like to keep my horizons open to all sorts of possibilities, because I don’t know of all the things I can do in the world. This adventure is priceless. There’s no way you could say ‘I’d rather do this, this, or this, because it’s worth more’…you can never touch an experience like Tall Ship sailing.”
In early summer, Perry made several one-week voyages with students from regional high schools and the Naval Academy Preparatory School (NAPS) located at Naval Station Newport.
“I’m a believer!” said NAPS Midshipman Candidate Jordan McDaniel, who counted spotting large pods of whales off Provincetown as one of his trip highlights. “If you really want to get into sailing or have any kind of interest in the sea, this is the place to be. The crew was outstanding, and they did a very good job of teaching us the mechanics of sailing. They also taught us a lot about teamwork ?C how in the Navy, like here, a large vessel would take dozens of people to make sure everything is done correctly.”
More recently, a group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors who attend Newport’s Rogers High School were aboard Perry for a week.
“I loved going aloft and the experience of sailing not only on a Tall Ship but also with friends my age, being able to bond, share stories and just enjoy the trip with them,” said Rogers freshman Colin McCabe, age 15. “Once, when we were at anchor, I was 120 feet in the air for an hour and 45 minutes, on the front mast, working with the top two sails. It’s the highest climbing I’ve ever done in my life!”