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Learn, do, teach: sail training’s invaluable lessons

Peter Mello believes that finding ways to measure the benefits of sail training will prove that its valuse exceeds its cost.It was 1973 and my first day as a freshman at Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts. I was at an awkward age in a new school with not a single recognizable face — and everything seemed to be happening at an accelerated pace. Although at the time it was all a bit of a blur, today I remember it like it was yesterday. The proctor came down the aisle handing out sheets of paper and pencils so we could select our afternoon activities, which are just as integral to the prep school experience as mountain-high stacks of books and small class sizes.I could feel the mounting pressure that day to make the first of many important decisions, but four decades later this is the only one I still recall.

I had the great opportunity to attend Tabor as a result of two things.



Fair winds or foul: tough times for some tall ships

It's been a tough few years, but those who have experienced the benefits of sail training are rallying to find long-term solutions.The Ocean Classroom Foundation, a nonprofit sail-training organization that closed its doors at summer’s end after 20 years of educating students at sea, has sold its tall ships — Harvey Gamage, Spirit of Massachusetts and Westward — to operators who plan to put one, maybe two, of the schooners back on the water in semester-at-sea programs and the third into service as a dockside attraction in southern Maine.

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‘Do whatever it takes’ to get a search resumed

The Coast Guard covered 25,000 square miles in two separate searches for the crew of the 39-foot sailboat Cheeki Rafiki.The search for survivors from the sailboats Niña and Cheeki Rafiki ended badly for both, with no lives saved. Yet friends and family of Cheeki Rafiki’s crew fought for a second Coast Guard search and won, with help from a massive political and public relations blitz, while the push for renewing the search for Niña fell on deaf ears in New Zealand.



A will to win drives this maritime lawyer

James Mercante in his office at Rubin, Fiorella & FriedmanThree decades of dissecting accidents on the water has made James Mercante a very cautious boater. The New York City-based maritime lawyer has handled such high-profile cases as the sinking of the Silverton 34 Kandi Won in Oyster Bay, New York, on July 4, 2012, in which three children drowned, and last year’s accident when a powerboat struck a barge moored at the Tappan Zee Bridge on the Hudson River in New York, killing two people.



Questions of character

Two high-profile maritime tragedies have left many with a vexing question:

Are captains bound by law to go down with the ship?

Capt. Henrik Kurt Carlsen became a hero in 1952 for his refusal to abandon the Flying Enterprise after a wave cracked the freighter's hull.Lore or law: The captain must go down with the ship? Answer: Lore. How about the master being responsible for his passengers and crew? Answer: law.

“The master’s primary responsibility is the safety of his passengers and crew,” says Richard Dein, a retired Coast Guard officer and expert witness who has worked as a master on passenger ferries and towboats.



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