Young Sailors Embarking On A Trip Along B.C.'s Coast

A crew of young sailors are embarking on a trip from Prince Rupert along B-C's Coast to explore what it takes to get a ship to their destination. 

The Pacific Swift is a 111-foot long ship built in Vancouver in the mid-80s by the Sail and Life Training Society and has traveled to areas like Australia and Europe.

Now, Pacific Swift explores the B.C. coast, giving youth between the ages of 13-25 a chance to take control of a ship.

"S.A.L.T.S. has been around for about 35 years. It involves the idea of getting kids out of their comfort zone. We're teaching them about themselves. We do that through sail training and through different experiences. They get to explore the coast around them," said Captain Tristian Hedley.

The ten day trip will take them to Port Hardy through the Great Bear Rain Forest. He says it's up to the young crew members to get them there.

"There are different watches on the boat. They're steering, keeping a watch out front, they're listening to the radio, and they'll be doing some navigating as well. The other watches include free time and there's times where we have to help the cook down below. It's a rotation like that. At times, we are sailing through the night. When we're anchored, there are people responsible for anchor watch on board."

Captain Hedley says the experience keeps the youth busy.

"For example, setting our main sail, one of the sails back there, it takes about 18-24 people to raise that sail. If people aren't engaged in it, we can't do it. It forces them right from the beginning to work as a team."

Hedley first joined S.A.L.T.S as a youth 15 years ago and he says it's special to see parents who use to be in the program dropping off their kids.

"I have an almost instant connection with their parents. They're so connected to the boat. Some of these parents have spent months on board. Whether sailing to Europe and all of these different places. That's a really unique thing there. The history that's there and there's also history in the boat. There's a lot of tradition, a lot of heritage in a classic boat like this. That's being passed on as well which is unique."

The crew now heading off to Vancouver Island will be a part of the journey for 10 days, and another batch will come aboard and explore British Columbia's coast.