A 72-foot (22 m) brigantine (two-masted sailing vessel with a fully square-rigged foremast and at least two sails on the mainmast) built for youth sail training, St. Lawrence II (Sail Training Vessel) is run by a crew of 14 to 19 year-olds. It was built with the sole purpose of youth sailing training by Francis MacLachlan and Mike Eames in 1952. In the Kingston, Ontario shipyards, the hull was designed in 1953, with the rest of the ship completed by local craftsmen, Kingston sea cadets and enthusiastic amateurs.
The homeport of St. Lawrence II is Kingston, Ontario. Travel by the brigantine is mostly the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, but occasionally it ventures to New York City.
The programme and accommodation are quite close to canoe tripping or backcountry camping as an experiential adventure platform – there is a basic cooking setup, cabin style bunking; it’s all very cottagey and efficient use of space is evident. A full modern navigation suite including Electronic Chart System, AIS, GPS, Radar, Depth Sounder and two VHF/DSC radios is available on St. Lawrence II.
There are three watches on the ship: red, white and blue. Each watch is directed by a watch officer; the remainder of the watch consists of up to 6 trainees and a petty officer or chief petty officer. Those who sign up for the course during the summer on the St. Lawrence II become trainees who form the ship’s basic unit and who complete most of the tasks, directed by petty officers.
Typically, the Captain and the executive officer are the only people over 18 years of age on the ship, and they are the most qualified. The watch, cook, bosun and petty officers are mostly under the age of 18, but during the winter training programme they would have participated in numerous training cruises before taking on these duties.
Thanks to Helen Cooper of Dive Brockville Adventure Centre for her photo contribution. Note: the water is not frozen at the time of the photo in January 2021.