Sail Training Aboard Schooner Pioneer


Schooner Pioneer is a tall ship that was built in 1885. She is a 103 ft, two masted steel schooner, and her home is the South Street Seaport. This summer, several peers and I committed to sail training once a week aboard Pioneer. Our day would begin at about 8am and end at about 1pm. Sail trainings are 90-minute sails around New York Harbor. Throughout each sail we would work on basic crew duties and commands aboard Pioneer. Some crew duties include docking and undocking from the seaport, repeating commands, coiling lines, raising sails, and striking sails.

When the vessel is underway, there are multiple watches (a watch is a group of people who stay together to complete a specific task) that are occurring. For example; Watch A would be at the helm, Watch B would be at the jib sail standing by for commands, and Watch C would be on bow watch. Each watch would rotate jobs so that everyone was receiving proper training on how to crew Pioneer. Being at the helm demonstrated how to navigate and steer the vessel.

While sailing, we used a maneuver called "tacking." Tacking is the process of turning the bow of the vessel  into the wind to change direction. Tacking is carried out by shifting the jib sail (the forward most sail) from one side of the vessel to the other. Whoever is on the helm will call out "ready about" which means prepare to shift the jib sail. Standing by the jib sail is one of the watches aboard Pioneer.

Bow watch is the 3rd watch aboard the vessel. Bow watch is conducted at the bow (forward most part) of the vessel. Bow watch is required to point out anything in the water that can possible harm the vessel in 360 degrees. We have to point out other vessels, anchorages, wood in the water, etc. When on bow watch you would like to point these things out to the person on the helm and be sure they understand what you are alerting them about. Sail training expanded my knowledge of tall ships and how to specifically crew a vessel such as Pioneer.